Michael Schumacher might have been fastest around the streets of Monte Carlo but it will be Mark Webber who starts the Monaco Grand Prix in pole position with the German receiving his five-place grid penalty for crashing into Bruno Senna in Spain.
The seven-time world champion vaulted his Mercedes from a provisional fifth after his first Q3 run to the top grid slot with a time of one minute, 14.301 seconds at the end of an exciting qualifying session.
But the penalty for his Barcelona incident means Schumacher will not be able to claim the first pole position since making his Formula One comeback. Instead Red Bull driver Webber – who was only 0.08 seconds slower – will head the Monte Carlo grid for the second time in his Formula One career.
Nico Rosberg held provisional pole for most of Q3, before slipping down to third. The Chinese Grand Prix winner will start the race on the front row following his Mercedes team-mate’s penalty.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was fourth quickest, ahead of Romain Grosjean. The Lotus driver was a likely contender for the top spot but a poor middle sector on his final lap left him fifth.
Ferrari could not manage the pole challenge it had been tipped for, with Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa sixth and seventh, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.
Spanish Grand Prix winner Pastor Maldonado made it to Q3 and was ninth, but his Williams will also be moved down the order due to the ten-place penalty for his incident with Sergio Perez in final practice.
As for the championship leader Sebastian Vettel, the defending world champion elected not to run in Q3 despite making it through into the top-ten shootout.
For the second successive weekend Jenson Button failed to get beyond Q2. The McLaren driver could not improve on his time of one minute, 15.536 seconds and he will start the race down in a disappointing P13.
Twelve months on from his dramatic crash at the Nouvelle Chicane, Sergio Perez was in trouble in Monaco qualifying again as he slid into the Swimming Pool barrier early in Q1.
Television replays showed his front-left wheel was not pointing in the correct direction before he hit the barrier. It’s possible that this was damaged following his collision with Pastor Maldonado at Portier during the final practice session.
The Mexican tried to drag his broken Sauber back to the pits but succeeded only in causing a red flag when he shed a wheel and had to park at La Rascasse.
Perez’s team-mate Kamui Kobayashi also had a brush with the wall on the approach to St. Devote, but continued intact and qualified P12.
Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne was the other driver to crash, losing control under braking for the Nouvelle Chicane and clouting the barriers, causing wing and suspension damage. That left him P17 on the grid – but this was just one position behind team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
Neither Force India made into Q3, with Nico Hulkenberg P11 and Paul di Resta P15.
Bruno Senna again failed to match Williams team-mate Maldonado’s pace and was only P14.
While at the back, Heikki Kovalainen came within a tenth of getting his Caterham into Q2. The Finn did beat his team-mate Vitaly Petrov by nearly a second.
Pedro de la Rosa in the HRT managed to split the Marussias and was only a tenth off Timo Glock.
So an impressive lap by both Schumacher and Webber. If only Michael didn’t hit the Williams at the last race in Spain… Can Mark become the sixth winner in Formula One? We will find out on race day.
Qualifying positions for the Monaco Grand Prix:
1. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m14.381s
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m14.448s
3. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m14.583s
4. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m14.639s
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m14.948s
6. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m14.301s*
7. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m15.049s
8. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m15.199s
9. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault no time
10. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m15.421s
11. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m15.508s
12. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m15.536s
13. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m15.709s
14. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m15.718s
15. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m15.878s
16. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m16.885s
17. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m16.538s
18. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m17.404s
19. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m15.245s**
20. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m17.947s
21. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m18.096s
22. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m18.476s
23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m19.310s
24. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari no time
107 per cent time: 1m20.697s
*Five-place grid penalty
**Ten-place grid penalty