Nico Rosberg shone in Monte Carlo to lead the grid for the Monaco Grand Prix ahead of Mercedes AMG team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
Nico Rosberg claimed pole position for Sunday’s 71st Monaco Grand Prix with a brilliantly-judged drive in capricious conditions as he and Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton locked out the front row of the grid.
The 27-year-old German delivered a fastest lap of one minute and 13.876 seconds in the final seconds of a rain-hit session to outpace 2008 world champion Hamilton by 0.091 seconds.
It was Rosberg’s third successive pole, the team’s fourth in a row and the fourth of his career, and it set him up perfectly to attempt to become the first son of a victorious former Monaco winner to triumph on the streets of the Mediterranean principality.
His father Keke Rosberg, watching the action from the paddock, won the race 30 years ago in 1983.
“You know, it’s always nice to hear statistics like that,” Rosberg junior said.
“But it doesn’t change much for tomorrow. Of course, I’m very happy.
“But, in Barcelona, we were struggling such a lot in the race (after starting from pole) and I finished 70 seconds behind the winner.
“We’re improving step by step, but there are still a lot of questions remaining. It’s still our weakness. But we will make the best of it and who knows.”
Hamilton, who has been outpaced by Rosberg in all three practice sessions as well as qualifying, said: “I’ve been struggling all weekend and my pace has been slacking.
“I’ve struggled with the car and this is the first time that’s happened since 2005. It’s been a difficult weekend so I’m happy to have been able to lock out the front row for the team. It’s been a massive improvement for me.”
On a day when two German clubs were to meet in football’s European Champions League final, it was perhaps fitting that the Mercedes team dominated as they seek to become the first Mercedes works outfit to win in Monaco since 1937.
The Mercedes men, Monaco neighbours, good friends and keen rivals, qualified first and second ahead of a clearly disappointed defending triple world champion Sebastian Vettel, who was third ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Australian Mark Webber.
“It was very close. Mercedes were very quick all weekend. We know they’re quick one lap. I don’t want that to sound like an excuse,” said Vettel.”
“There was more than a tenth missing – I think I had that today, but it didn’t come together on the last lap. If anyone is to blame, then it’s me.
“The car was very good. I’m not entirely happy with my last lap but happy there’s not a Lotus or Ferrari ahead so therefore sitting in third I think is still a good result and should be a good opportunity to win the race.”
Finn Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 champion, was fifth for Lotus ahead of two-time champion Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, Mexican Sergio Perez of McLaren and German Adrian Sutil of Force India.
Briton Jenson Button, the 2009 world champion, qualified ninth in the second McLaren ahead of Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne of Toro Rosso.
Alonso’s Ferrari colleague Brazilian Felipe Massa did not take part after mechanics failed to repair his car in time following a high-speed crash in the morning that his team attributed to ‘driver error’.
Meanwhile, Frenchman Romain Grosjean qualified only 13th for Lotus after crashing in all three practice sessions.