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Page last updated at 17:51 GMT, Saturday, 23 May 2009 18:51 UK

Superb Button steals Monaco pole

Venue: Monte Carlo Dates: 21-24 May (no action on Friday 22) Coverage: Comprehensive live coverage of Sunday's race - which starts at 1300 BST - across BBC TV, radio and online platforms. Find complete listings here

Jenson Button

Highlights - Button takes pole in Monaco

By Chris Whyatt

Jenson Button landed his fourth pole position of the season after a dramatic Monaco Grand Prix qualifying session.

The Brawn GP driver came through late to pip Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen with a time of one minute 14.902 seconds.

Disaster struck for McLaren's world champion Lewis Hamilton, who will start last after crashing out early on.

Rubens Barrichello qualified in third for dominant Brawn, ahead of Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and the second Ferrari belonging to Brazil's Felipe Massa.

Championship leader Button, who has driven brilliantly in a responsive car to win four of this season's first five races, has never before claimed victory in Monaco but will fancy his chances on a tight, twisty street circuit which is notoriously difficult for overtaking.

BBC SPORT'S FUEL-ADJUSTED GRID (with projected race first pit stops*)
1 Button (lap 20)
2 Raikkonen +0.113 (lap 18)
3 Barrichello +0.162 (lap 19)
4 Massa +0.635 (lap 18)
5 Rosberg +0.691 (lap 17)
6 Kovalainen +0.702 (lap 18)
7 Vettel +0.769 (lap 11)
8 Webber +0.776 (lap 19)
9 Alonso +0.945 (lap 23)
10 Nakajima +1.929 (lap 31)
* Calculated on the weight of fuel left in cars after qualifying had finished

He may, however, face a real challenge in the scramble off the line as Raikkonen's Ferrari is running with Kers (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), which can store energy to give cars a power boost.

"Starting on pole is obviously an advantage... but it's a long race and anything can happen, as they say," said Button, who also proved the fastest man in the field after the weights of the cars in qualifying were published.

"Some people say Monaco can be a procession but I don't think that will be the case. It's not as easy as just qualifying on pole and you've won the race.

"Today was a really hard fight. I have been battling with Rubens all weekend, and he has probably had the upper hand. But it's been tight with the Ferraris and the McLarens.

"It is such an adrenaline rush here and a few times I thought I was going to be in the wall as we are right on the edge here."

England's Hamilton had been considered one of the favourites to get on the front row after utilising his aggressive style on the demanding track in all three practice sessions prior to qualifying.

But he wrote off his chances of winning this year in one of the world's finest sporting theatres after he lost his car's back end on the entrance to Mirabeau's hairpin and smashed into the tyre wall in the first part of qualifying, breaking its rear suspension.

"I don't know what I was thinking, I made a mistake," Hamilton, who finished 16th but is demoted to the back of the grid as he now needs a new gearbox, told BBC Sport.

"I apologise to the team for wasting their time.

It is good to be on the front row again. It is nice too to fight for victory I hope tomorrow

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen

"It's been tough but you learn from these mistakes. They are bound to happen, but it's just a shame it happened in the first qualifying session.

"My race weekend for a win is for sure over."

Second and fifth on the grid marks a real upturn for Ferrari as the Italian team - the reigning constructors' champions who have threatened to quit the sport if a proposed £40m budget cap is introduced - bid to recover from their worst start to a season.

"The car is the same here so we have done well and I am pretty happy to be second now after what has happened since the start of the season," said Raikkonen.

"I made a mistake on my lap when I had a moment at the first corner, but it is good to be on the front row again. It is nice too to fight for victory I hope tomorrow."

McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen drove well to land seventh ahead of Australian Mark Webber in the second Red Bull while two-times champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Renault starts in ninth.

Both Williams cars made it into the top 10 for the first time this season, with perennial practice front-runner Nico Rosberg in sixth and Kazuki Nakajimi in 10th.

Lewis Hamilton crashes at Monaco

Hamilton crashes out of qualifying

Force India's drivers recorded the team's best-ever qualifying performance but it proved a miserable day for BMW Sauber, who admitted they are seriously struggling after both Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica were knocked out in session one.

"Currently, we don't know what's wrong," conceded Heidfeld. "In Barcelona we made a step forward, but here we are way behind expectations."

The same fate befell Toyota, who are third in the constructors' championship but appear to be falling away after an impressive start to the season.

Drivers Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock are set to start from the back of the grid, though Trulli later revealed that an appeal had been submitted to race officials after claiming he was blocked on a hot lap by Renault's Fernando Alonso.

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see also
Monaco Grand Prix qualifying results
18 May 09 |  Results
Monaco GP qualifying as it happened
23 May 09 |  Formula 1
Button's flying Monaco qualifying lap
23 May 09 |  Formula 1
Brawn praises Button's last-gasp lap
23 May 09 |  Formula 1
Button 'chuffed' to snatch Monaco pole
23 May 09 |  Formula 1
Progress made in F1 crisis talks
22 May 09 |  Formula 1
Monaco GP practice as it happened
21 May 09 |  Formula 1
Monaco Grand Prix practice photos
21 May 09 |  Formula 1
Ferrari fail in budget-cap appeal
20 May 09 |  Formula 1
Vettel targets Button in Monaco
20 May 09 |  Formula 1
Worried Alonso ponders F1 future
20 May 09 |  Formula 1
Fighting Massa eyes Monaco podium
19 May 09 |  Formula 1
Hamilton refuses to concede title
15 May 09 |  Formula 1
F1 on the BBC
01 Dec 11 |  Formula 1

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