Nico Rosberg finally ended Lewis Hamilton’s run of pole positions albeit in controversial circumstances in a tight qualifying in Monaco.
The German’s 1:15.989 was enough by just .059 of a second, however, on his final run a mistake at Mirebeau caused yellow flags and meant Hamilton was unable to improve his time.
Daniel Ricciardo claimed another victory over Sebastian Vettel on a Saturday taking third ahead of his German team-mate in fourth.
The Noah’s ark theme continued as the two Ferrari’s were fifth and sixth as Fernando Alonso held a seven tenths advantage over Kimi Raikkonen.
The surprise team of the day was easily Toro Rosso as both Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat made the top ten shoot out.
The Frenchman was very quick throughout the qualifying session taking seventh and, despite and earlier collision with the barriers exiting the tunnel, Daniil Kvyat showed off his vast talent taking ninth on his first trip to Monaco.
In between them another rookie as Kevin Magnussen enjoyed one of the best days he has had since Australia claiming eighth for McLaren as Sergio Perez completed the top ten for Force India.
Further back the lack of advantage from the more powerful Mercedes power unit was apparent as four of the six cars were German-powered.
Nico Hulkenberg was the man who just missed out in 11th in the second Force India as Jenson Button was outclassed by his team-mate with the Briton only in 12th.
The Williams were the big disappointments as Valtteri Bottas could only take 13th with Felipe Massa unable to take part in Q2 after an incident with Marcus Ericsson’s Caterham in the first segment, that means he will start 16th and the two Lotus’ of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado were in between the Martini striped cars.
At the back of the grid Sauber’s poor weekend continued as both Esteban Gutierrez and Adrian Sutil were knocked out along with the Marussia’s and Caterham’s.
Jules Bianchi had looked quick in final practice but a late incident between Felipe Massa and Marcus Ericsson at Mirebeau meant he and Sutil were unable to improve on their last run.
The Frenchman was still the fastest driver of the slower teams ahead of Max Chilton with the two Caterham’s on the final row of the grid.
At the front, however, and as the apparent mind games between Rosberg and Hamilton continue to increase, Rosberg’s pole in the circumstance it occurred produced a very interesting reaction back in Parc Ferme as Nico was clearly keen to show his delight as Hamilton looked on.
As expected the gap between Mercedes and Red Bull was much smaller than in recent races but still the Silver Arrows had enough in their pocket to claim a third one-two of the year.
Looking ahead to Sunday it will be interesting to see how the different tyres work with no long run simulations in practice. The super-soft look a good race tyre and we should expect a one-stop strategy, however the increased risk of rain may still throw another spanner in the mix.
Rosberg will be favourite starting from pole but with so much on the line and a lot of unknowns, the always unpredictable marathon that is the Monaco Grand Prix will once again keep us on the edge of our seats.
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