Sebastian Vettel claimed the 20th pole position of his Formula 1 career after going fastest in a heavily interrupted qualifying session for the Monaco Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver's time of 1m13.556s was set midway through Q3 and was enough to give him the top spot by 0.441sec from Jenson Button's McLaren.
A heavy accident for Sergio Perez at the chicane with two minutes remaining brought out the red flags for 40 minutes while the Sauber driver was stretchered away and the 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 tires warmed up sufficiently to improve on their previous times. The top six on the grid, therefore, did not change during the final two minutes with Button ahead of Mark Webber's Red Bull and Fernando Alonso's Ferrari.
Michael Schumacher equaled his best grid spot since his return to Formula 1 with Mercedes in fifth, while Felipe Massa put his Ferrari sixth.
Lewis Hamilton had been quickest in both Q1 and Q2, but was the main loser as a result of the red flags as the McLaren driver had been on-track at the time and with four super-soft Pirelli tires on his car. He could only manage the seventh-best time when the session resumed, enough to put him ahead of Nico Rosberg's Mercedes and Pastor Maldonado's Williams. Perez would have started from a career-best 10th place, but has now been ruled out of the race (see separate story).
Vitaly Petrov missed out on Q3 for the first time all year, his final flying lap splitting Maldonado from his Williams team-mate Barrichello, while Nick Heidfeld in the second Renault was a disappointing 16th.
The biggest name not to make it into Q2 was Jaime Alguersuari, who was only 20th quickest – slower than Team Lotus drivers Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli. It was Alguersuari's worst qualifying performance since the 2009 Italian GP.
One of the Spaniard's late efforts on super-soft rubber was thwarted when he came across Kamui Kobayashi on an out-lap at Rascasse and made a minor collision with the rear end of the Sauber. Both drivers were summoned to the race stewards to explain his actions.
Neither Hispania took to the track. Vitantonio Liuzzi's machine was not repaired in time following his practice accident this morning, while a rear suspension problem was discovered on Narain Karthikeyan's car. Neither, therefore, set a time within the 107 percent qualifying limit and may not be allowed to start the race.
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Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m13.556s
2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m13.997s + 0.441
3. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m14.019s + 0.463
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m14.483s + 0.927
5. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m14.682s + 1.126
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m14.877s + 1.321
7. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m15.280s + 1.724
8. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m15.766s + 2.210
9. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m16.528s + 2.972
10. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari No time
Q3 cut-off time: 1m15.545s Gap **
11. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m15.815s + 1.540
12. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m15.826s + 1.551
13. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m15.973s + 1.698
14. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m16.118s + 1.843
15. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m16.121s + 1.846
16. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m16.214s + 1.939
17. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m16.300s + 2.025
Q3 cut-off time: 1m16.813s Gap *
18. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m17.343s + 2.136
19. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m17.381s + 2.174
20. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m17.820s + 2.613
21. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m17.914s + 2.707
22. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m18.736s + 3.529
23. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth No time
24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth No time
107% time: 1m20.471s
* Gap to quickest in Q1
** Gap to quickest in Q2