Sebastian Vettel will start the Monaco Grand Prix in pole position after setting an impressive lap around the challenging street circuit.
The reigning world champion set a time of one minute, 13.556 seconds to take his twentieth career pole position in a severely interrupted qualifying session.
McLaren’s Jenson Button will join him on the front row while his team-mate Lewis Hamilton will start in a disappointing seventh.
A heavy accident for Sergio Perez at the harbour front chicane with two minutes remaining brought out the red flags. The session was stopped for 40 minutes while the Mexican was stretchered away and the safety barriers were reset.
Once the green flags were waved, there was not enough time left for any of the nine remaining drivers to get their Pirellis warmed up sufficiently to improve on their previous lap times.
Therefore the top six remained unchanged in the final two minutes of Q3, with Button ahead of Mark Webber’s Red Bull and Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari.
Michael Schumacher equalled his best grid position since his return to Formula One with fifth for Mercedes, while Felipe Massa put his Ferrari in sixth.
The biggest loser in qualifying was McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton. He had been the quickest in both Q1 and Q2, but as a result of the red flags he had no opportunity to set a competitive lap time to challenge Vettel for the top spot.
The best he could only do was the seventh quickest time when the session resumed, which was only sufficient enough to place him ahead of Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes and Pastor Maldonado’s Williams. As for Sergio Perez – should the Sauber driver be fit to take part in Sunday’s race – he will start in tenth position.
Vitaly Petrov missed out on Q3 for the first time this season. The Renault driver’s final flying lap splitting Maldonado from his Williams team-mate Barrichello, while Nick Heidfeld in the other Renault was a disappointing P16.
The biggest name not to make it into Q2 was Jaime Alguersuari, who was only twentieth quickest – slower than both Team Lotus drivers Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli. It was Alguersuari’s worst qualifying performance since the 2009 Italian Grand Prix.
One of the Spaniard’s late efforts on the super soft ‘Option’ tyre was thwarted when he came across Kamui Kobayashi on an out-lap at Rascasse and made a minor contact with the back end of the Sauber. Both drivers were summoned to the race stewards to explain his actions.
Neither Hispania took part in qualifying with Vitantonio Liuzzi’s final practice crash leaving the team with no time to repair the damaged car. As for his team-mate Narain Karthikeyan, a rear suspension problem was discovered. With no time set – never mind the 107 per cent qualifying limit – both drivers may not be allowed to start the Monaco Grand Prix.
Qualifying times from Monte Carlo:
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m13.556s
2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m13.997s
3. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m14.019s
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m14.483s
5. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m14.682s
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m14.877s
7. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m15.280s
8. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m15.766s
9. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m16.528s
10. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari No time
11. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m15.815s
12. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m15.826s
13. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m15.973s
14. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m16.118s
15. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m16.121s
16. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m16.214s
17. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m16.300s
18. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m17.343s
19. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m17.381s
20. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m17.820s
21. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m17.914s
22. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m18.736s
23. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth No time
24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth No time
107% time: 1m20.471s