Formula 1

Ricciardo has led every session so far this weekend.

Daniel Ricciardo unstoppable as he claims Monaco GP pole

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Daniel Ricciardo was simply unbeatable as the Australian claimed his second Formula 1 pole in three years at the Monaco GP on Saturday.

With teammate Max Verstappen nothing more than a spectator in qualifying, it was upto the rest to challenge the Red Bull driver and no-one could step up with Ricciardo the only man to go sub-71 seconds with a remarkable 1m10.810s.

Sebastian Vettel came closest, a little over two-tenths behind in second after producing an excellent final lap to jump championship leader Lewis Hamilton and start on the front row.

On a weekend that has been more about damage limitation for the Mercedes driver though, he will likely be very satisfied in third.

Kimi Raikkonen couldn't match his pole from 12 months ago as the Finn was fourth in the second Ferrari, as Valtteri Bottas completed the order among the top three teams in P5.

Verstappen flops again

As mentioned, Max Verstappen was unable to take part in qualifying after a gearbox problem was found in his Red Bull while the team tried to repair his car following a crash in final practice.

The Dutchman would break his suspension after hitting the inside barrier on the entry to the second part of the Swimming Pool complex, directing him over the large kerb and into the wall on the outside in a near-direct copy of his crash there in 2016.

It's likely Red Bull will opt to start him from the pit-lane for Sunday's race to avoid any problems at the first corner as well as having more opportunity to optimise his car to try and make up places.

Surprise midfield leader

On a weekend when McLaren, Renault or maybe Toro Rosso were thought to be likely candidates for 'best of the rest', it was Force India's Esteban Ocon who emerged from nowhere to take P6.

F1 Grand Prix of Monaco - Qualifying

In fact, much like last year, the Silverstone-based team would have both cars inside the top 10 with Sergio Perez in ninth in the second 'pink panther'.

Fernando Alonso ensured McLaren were represented in Q3, taking seventh, as Carlos Sainz continued his strong form in eighth for Renault.

Though the later return to Paul Ricard means Monaco is no longer a home race of sorts, Pierre Gasly made it two Frenchman inside the top 10 in 10th in what was a strong performance for the junior Red Bull driver.

With several unexpected names shining on the streets of the Principality, it meant Nico Hulkenberg and Stoffel Vandoorne were the two highest-profile drivers to drop out in Q2.

Rookies shine

Both will line up on row six in 11th and 12th respectively with Sergey Sirotkin a very good 13th for Williams and eight-tenths faster than a very frustrated teammate in Lance Stroll, who was only 18th.

F1 Grand Prix of Monaco - Practice

Charles Leclerc will start his home first home race in 14th for Sauber as Romain Grosjean completed the midfield in 15th, but the Haas driver will take a three-place grid penalty for causing the first lap crash in Spain.

While his teammate made the top 10 and amid rumours he could be replaced, Brendon Hartley didn't do his stock many favours by being a surprise casualty in Q1.

The Kiwi, who was the fastest midfield driver in the final practice session, could only manage 16th in his Toro Rosso but will move up one position thanks to Grosjean's drop.

He and Kevin Magnussen, who was slowest overall in 19th for Haas with Verstappen not taking part, both saw their chances of progressing hindered by Leclerc, who had to take to the escape road at Sainte Devote late in Q1, causing a yellow flag which meant drivers had to back off.

The full grid can be below (Note: Grosjean drops to 18th place after penalty):

Who can stop Ricciardo?

Now attention focuses to Sunday and whether anyone can stop the rampant Ricciardo from finally getting his own back on Monaco for the devastating loss after his first pole in 2016.

In practice, the Red Bull has looked just as dominant on long runs as it has in qualifying, therefore, it may take something unexpected to stop him taking a second win of the year.

The big battle could be between Hamilton and Vettel for second with Mercedes looking stronger in Monte Carlo than a year ago, although if the world champion can leave with most of his current 17-point advantage left intact he'll likely be very happy indeed.

F1 Grand Prix of Monaco - Qualifying

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Sergey Sirotkin
Charles Leclerc
Valtteri Bottas
Esteban Ocon
Sebastian Vettel
Max Verstappen
Daniel Ricciardo
Kimi Raikkonen
Fernando Alonso
Lewis Hamilton
Force India
Red Bull
Formula 1

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