Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo broke Mercedes’ monopoly in qualifying by taking pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix on Saturday.
Ricciardo, who had been sublime throughout practice, lapped the circuit in 1:13.622 to beat Nico Rosberg by just a tenth of the second. The Australian, intriguingly, will start the race from the slower, but more durable supersoft tyre, opening doors to a different strategy.
Behind, Lewis Hamilton could only manage third place, despite being quicker than Ricciardo up to the second sector on his sole flying lap. The British driver suffered a scare due to an apparent engine issue, but was able to return to the track with a quarter of the session remaining.
Ferrari again struggled to transfer their practice pace into qualifying with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen only managing fourth and sixth places. The two drivers were nearly a second slower than Ricciardo, showing Ferrari still have a lot to catch up.
Meanwhile, Force India enjoyed arguably their best qualifying session of what’s been a difficult season so far for the Silverstone-based outfit. Nico Hulkenberg qualified in fifth place, in-between the two Ferraris, with Sergio Perez not far behind in eighth place.
Both Toro Rossos also made it to the Q3 with Carlos Sainz qualifying seventh and Daniil Kvyat finishing 9th.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso made it to the final leg of qualifying for a second race in succession, but could qualify no higher than 10th.
Earlier in FP1, Max Verstappen made contact with the barriers at the Swimming Pool chicane, damaging his car’s suspension in the process and going straight into the wall.
The Dutchman is set to start from the last row of the grid, alongside Sauber’s Felipe Nasr who suffered from a blown engine.
Both Williams were eliminated in Q2 as the Grove-based team’s struggles on low-speed tracks continued, despite significant effort having gone in this respect during the winter.
Valtteri Bottas was 11th quickest while Felipe Massa qualified in only 14th place, behind Esteban Gutierrez and Jenson Button.
Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen also got knocked out in Q2.
by Rachit Thukral