Nico Rosberg finishes first in qualifying, grabbing his third straight pole
Lewis Hamilton claims second to give Mercedes the top two spots in Monaco
Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel comes third in his Red Bull
Ferrari's Felipe Massa is last on the grid after he couldn't compete in qualifying
Nico Rosberg claimed his third consecutive pole, finishing fastest in qualifying Saturday for the Monaco Grand Prix. Now the question is: Can Rosberg and Mercedes win a race?
Rosberg was also on Pole in Bahrain and Spain but the team’s tire issues meant he was unable to land on the podium.
The good news for Rosberg, however, is that in eight of the past nine races in Monaco, the pole sitter has triumphed. Monaco, the shortest and slowest circuit on the calendar, provides few opportunities to overtake.
If Rosberg does prevail Sunday, it would come 30 years after his father, Keke, won in the glamorous principality on the Cote d’Azur.
“It’s always nice to hear statistics like that,” Rosberg 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 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.”
Rosberg, a German raised in Monte Carlo, posted a time of one minute 13.876 seconds to edge teammate Lewis Hamilton, a Monaco resident, by 0.091 seconds. Much of qualifying took place in the rain.
Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull completed the top three, barely missing out on second. Through five races, Vettel leads the standings.
“The conditions were all over the place,” Rosberg said. “Then it started drizzling again so the lap times got a lot slower. It was changing so much. You have to be on the right tires at the right time. Everything went to plan and the last lap went okay.”
Despite Rosberg’s success in practice – he was first in all three sessions – Hamilton expressed surprise in coming second in his Mercedes.
“I’ve struggled all weekend,” Hamilton said. “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.”
Last year’s winner, Red Bull’s Mark Webber, Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus – second to Vettel in the standings – and Fernando Alonso of Ferrari rounded out the top six.
Alonso, who won in front of his home fans in Spain, is bidding to become the first racer to capture the Monaco Grand Prix with three different teams.
If Alonso faces a difficult task given his spot on the grid, it’s almost mission impossible for his Ferrari teammate, Felipe Massa.
Massa crashed in practice earlier on Saturday and couldn’t participate in qualifying because his car couldn’t be fixed in time, sending him to last on the grid. He was unharmed.