Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton took the first Monaco Grand Prix pole position of his career as Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg blew his own hopes of a qualifying hat-trick.
Rosberg, winner from pole for the past two years on the twisty metal-fenced streets where passing is almost impossible, qualified second in an overcast final session with rain threatening.
1. Lewis Hamilton – 111
2. Nico Rosberg – 91
3. Sebastian Vettel – 80
4. Kimi Raikkonen – 52
5. Valtteri Bottas – 42
“It’s been a long time,” said an elated Hamilton, whose only win in Monaco came in his 2008 championship year with McLaren from third place on the grid. “It wasn’t an easy session…I didn’t have the rhythm until the last two laps.
“This is incredibly special for me,” added the Monaco resident, well aware the race has been won from pole for the last six years, of his 14th successive front row start and fifth pole in six races.
Rosberg’s hopes disappeared when he locked up the front wheels at the Sainte Devote corner at the start of his abandoned final quick lap to leave Hamilton 0.342 seconds faster.
Sebastian Vettel will start third for Ferrari on Sunday, after struggling to get heat into his tyres, with his former Red Bull team mate Daniel Ricciardo alongside him on the second row.
Dutch 17-year-old Max Verstappen qualified an impressive 10th for his first Monaco Grand Prix with Toro Rosso with Spanish rookie team mate Carlos Sainz eighth.
McLaren’s hopes of starting in the top 10 evaporated but 2009 champion Jenson Button was 12th fastest and will be 11th because Frenchman Romain Grosjean, just ahead for Lotus, has a five-place penalty for a gearbox change.
Button’s team mate Fernando Alonso, who predicted earlier in the week that McLaren could score their first points of the season on Sunday, qualified 15th but will also move up a place.
Starting grid (top-10):
1. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes
3. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) RedBull – Renault
5. Daniil Kvyat (Russia) RedBull – Renault
6. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari
7. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India – Mercedes
8. Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) Toro Rosso – Renault
9. Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Lotus – Mercedes
10. Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Toro Rosso – Renault