Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo took pole position for Sunday’s Monaco Formula One Grand Prix after an action-packed qualifying session where previous race winner Max Verstappen qualified 21st after a crash.
Australian Ricciardo seized his first ever pole on Saturday and will be followed on the grid by championship leader Nico Rosberg, whose Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton suffered an engine problem and only qualified third.
Pole in Monaco is mightily important given the street circuit makes it difficult to overtake and Ricciardo was overjoyed to make his mark on the most famous circuit in motor sport.
“It is definitely a special place. I knew coming into the weekend we would have a shot at it (pole),” Ricciardo told a press conference.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was fourth with Nico Huelkenberg a surprise fifth in the Force India ahead of Kimi Raikonnen.
Qualifying was held up twice, first when Felipe Nasr’s Sauber started spewing smoke from the back and later when Red Bull’s Verstappen, who became the youngest ever F1 race winner with his shock success on team debut in Spain this month, crashed out.
It was from the sublime to the ridiculous for the 18-year-old, who clipped a barrier to mess up his suspension and he ploughed into the wall. The car was damaged but he got out unhurt.
“Maybe I underestimated the grip I had, turned a bit too early. Then it all goes wrong,” the Dutchman said.
Verstappen was also involved in a high-speed collision at last year’s Monaco race and was then criticised as driving dangerously by other drivers.
The two red flags in Q1 upset the rhythm of the other drivers but the big names all got through to Q2 where normal service was resumed.
World champion Hamilton’s Q3 then got off to a late start after an engine fuel pressure issue left him stranded in the pitlane.
He managed to get back on track but had only one realistic shot at a big lap and a scrappy end meant he had to settle for third on the grid after his latest setback this year.
The engine problem also partially affected Rosberg’s car.
“It didn’t totally work today,” said the German, who leads Raikkonen in the drivers’ standings with 100 points to the Finn’s 61. Hamilton has 57.
Carlos Sainz Jr in the Toro Rosso qualified seventh with Sergio Perez in the other Force India eighth. Daniil Kvyat in the Toro Rosso was ninth.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso managed to sneak into the final qualifying phase while team mate Jenson Button again missed out. The Spaniard was 10th while the Briton will be 13th on the grid.
Ferrari’s Vettel was fastest in final practice earlier as the winding streets of the principality were bathed in sunshine.