Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo will start the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix on pole position after registering a perfect lap around the tight streets of Monte Carlo.

Ricciardo’s pace was looking promising since Thursday when he topped the timesheets in FP2 and set the fastest lap of the weekend until qualifying, where he improved by almost a full second to take Red Bull’s first pole position since Brazil 2013.

Lewis Hamilton experienced more problems, when his Mercedes lost fuel pressure at the end of pit lane at the beginning of Q3 leaving his mechanics to rush out and wheel him back to the garage. The issue was Hamilton’s third such mechanical drama in four qualifying sessions.

The Briton made it back out to the track with six minutes left to run in the session, and after failing to put together a fast flying lap on two occasions, Hamilton set a purple first and second sector but lost time in the third and failed to qualify on the front row.

His teammate Nico Rosberg set a best lap of 1:13.791 which was 0.151 seconds faster than Hamilton’s, but it was 0.169 seconds off Ricciardo’s benchmark.

While every other driver was on the ultra-soft tyre during Q2, Ricciardo made the bold call to make the switch to the super-soft tyre during Q2 to try and set his best time on the more durable tyre. His strategy worked as he was able to improve by one-tenth of a second, meaning the Australian will now have an alternative strategy for tomorrow’s race as the top-ten qualifiers must start on the tyre they set their best time with in Q2.

At the other end of the grid, the hero of the Spanish Grand Prix, Max Verstappen, was eliminated from Q1 after he buried the sister Red Bull Racing RB12 in the barriers. The teenager took too much kerb exiting the Swimming Pool complex and clipped the apex, breaking his front right suspension which then sent him into the barrier.

The incident brought out the second red flag in Q1 as an engine blowout from Felipe Nasr’s Sauber left the Brazilian stranded on the track.

Sebastian Vettel qualified fourth for Ferrari, although the pace he showed in the final practice session this morning didn’t translate to qualifying, as his best time was close to a second slower than Ricciardo’s pole time.

Force India’s Nico Hülkenberg beat out both Kimi Räikkönen and the two Toro Rossos for fifth position for his best qualifying performance this season.

Räikkönen, who will incur a five-place grid drop tomorrow due to a gearbox change, finished over a second off the pace in sixth position, while Carlos Sainz pipped Sergio Pérez to seventh position.

Fernando Alonso rounded out the top ten after squeezing his McLaren into Q3, narrowly beating Williams’ Valtteri Bottas for the final berth.

Q3 Qualifiers Team / Entry Result Gap
1. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB12 1:13.622
2. Nico Rosberg de Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 W07 Hybrid 1:13.791 + 0.169
3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 W07 Hybrid 1:13.942 + 0.320
4. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H 1:14.522 + 0.900
5. Nico Hülkenberg de Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM09 1:14.726 + 1.104
6. Kimi Räikkönen^ fi Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H 1:14.732 + 1.110
7. Carlos Sainz Jr es Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR11 1:14.749 + 1.127
8. Sergio Pérez Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM09 1:14.902 + 1.280
9. Daniil Kvyat ru Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR11 1:15.273 + 1.651
10. Fernando Alonso es McLaren-Honda MP4-31 1:15.363 + 1.741
Q2 Qualifiers Team / Entry Result Gap**
11. Valtteri Bottas fi Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW38 1:15.273 + 1.230
12. Esteban Gutiérrez Haas F1 Ferrari VF-16 1:15.293 + 1.250
13. Jenson Button McLaren-Honda MP4-31 1:15.352 + 1.309
14. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW38 1:15.385 + 1.342
15. Romain Grosjean fr Haas F1 Ferrari VF-16 1:15.571 + 1.528
16. Kevin Magnussen dk Renault Sport F1 Team RS16 1:16.058 + 2.015
Q1 Qualifiers Team / Entry Result Gap*
19. Marcus Ericsson Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C35 1:16.299 + 1.689
17. Jolyon Palmer Renault Sport F1 Team RS16 1:16.586 + 1.976
22. Rio Haryanto id Manor Racing Mercedes MRT5 1:17.295 + 2.685
21. Pascal Wehrlein de Manor Racing Mercedes MRT5 1:17.452 + 2.842
Outside 107%*** Team / Entry Result Gap*
DNQ. Max Verstappen nl Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB12 1:22.467 + 7.857
DNQ. Felipe Nasr br Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C35 no time

* Denotes gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:14.610 posted by Sebastian Vettel
** Denotes gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:14.043 posted by Nico Rosberg
*** Q1 107% cut-off was 1:19.832

Post-Qualifying Penalties:

  • Kimi Räikkönen will serve a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change

Image via Red Bull Content Pool

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Josh Kruse

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