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Mark Webber pips Robert Kubica to pole in Monaco

Red Bull's Mark Webber

Highlights - Monaco GP qualifying

By Phil Dawkes

Red Bull's Mark Webber produced a superb display in qualifying to snatch pole position from Renault's Robert Kubica in Monaco.

The Australian's time of one minute 13.826 seconds edged out Kubica, who had earlier set an impressive 1:14.104.

Webber's team-mate Sebastian Vettel was third, just ahead of Ferrari's Felipe Massa and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.

Nico Rosberg claimed sixth place on the grid, ahead of team-mate Michael Schumacher, with Jenson Button eighth.

Williams' Rubens Barrichello and Force India's Vitantonio Liuzzi rounded out the top 10.

One notable absentee from qualifying was Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who crashed into the barriers at Massenet during final practice on Saturday morning, causing such severe damage to his chassis that he was unable to take part and will start Sunday's race from the back of the grid in the spare car.

In his team-mate's absence Felipe Massa produced one of his strongest qualifying displays of the season, setting the initial pace in the first part of qualifying before ultimately taking fourth with a time of 1:14.283.

Red Bull's Mark Webber with Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel

Monaco GP qualifying - Top three drivers

Once again, though, Red Bull have come out on top, continuing their record of being on pole for every one of this season's six races, with Webber taking his third.

"It was a bit of a blur to be honest," said the 33-year-old. "I told the team it was all about lap three and four.

"It all came together in that lap, the car was a pleasure to drive and I am delighted because the guys have worked really hard.

"To get pole at Monaco is obviously a great feeling so I am really pleased."

Kubica had been fastest in Saturday morning's final practice and his performance in qualifying was comfortably his best of the season, improving on his previous best of sixth at Malaysia.

In the space of two flying laps he firstly recorded a time of 1:14.284 and then improving it by 0.280secs to seemingly claim only his second pole, after Bahrain in 2008. But Webber then pipped him in the final two minutes of the session with two laps that were good enough for pole.

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"If the same car [Red Bull] was half a second quicker at Barcelona, there was no reason why we should have qualified in front of them," said the 25-year-old.

"I was very surprised with our pace in practice and qualifying, but miracles don't happen from one day to the next.

"All in all when you are so close, you have to be realistic, and it was a great day for Renault.

"So I'm not disappointed. For myself and the team, it's a great day, a great achievement."

Vettel, with three poles himself this season recorded a fastest lap time of 1:14.227 to take his place in the second row.

Monaco's short, tight circuit ensured that many of the drivers in the third part of qualifying remained competitive and Hamilton (1:14.432), Rosberg (1:14.544) and Schumacher (1:14.590) all posted good times.

McLaren's Jenson Button

Button points finger at Massa

However, they, like many of the drivers suffered from traffic, which contributed to clear moments of frustration even if they were not as calamitous as had been feared before the race.

While the talk in the build-up had been all about the new teams' cars blocking the top drivers in the first session, the biggest complaints came after the top-10 shoot-out.

The most notable involved Button and Massa, with the latter slowing down into Anthony Noghes and disrupting the reigning Monaco champions flying lap.

"I don't know what Massa was thinking during Q3," said Button.

"There are only 10 cars out there so it should be easy to stay out of each others way but he was clearly blocking me."

Massa played down the incident, saying: "It was at the beginning of the run, there was a car in front of me that backed off, so I backed off. It's like I lost my last run. These things can happen. Nothing you can do."

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton expects to challenge at Monaco GP

Button only just scraped into third qualifying but rallied to post a fastest time of 1:14.637.

"In Q1, the car felt good on harder tyres but we didn't run them in Q3 which might have been a better option. I struggled a lot of movement at high speed in the rear and at the front on the apex," said Button.

Liuzzi was the only real surprise, recording a time of 1:15.170 to match his 10th place start in China.

The Italian narrowly edged out Williams Nico Hulkenburg by 0.217secs, who himself was just 0.001secs ahead of Force India's Adrian Sutil.

Mercedes' Michael Schumacher

Schumacher accuses Rosberg of holding him up

Toro Rosso pair Sebastien Buemi (1:15.413) and Jaime Alguesari (1:16.176) will start 13th and 17th.

Kubica's team-mate Vitaly Petrov (1:15.576) is 14th, while Sauber duo Pedro de la Rosa (1:15.692) and Kamui Kobayashi (1:15.992) are 16th and 17th.

With a proposal to split qualifying due to the potential for traffic caused by the pace differential between teams having been ruled out last week, 23 cars flooded the track for the first 20 minutes.

Early on, both Rosberg and Kubica were victims as fast sector one and two times were tarnished with traffic in sector three but there was little to justify the earlier concern.

Robert Kubica

Kubica targets podium finish

As expected, the six cars of the three rookie teams, Hispania, Virgin and Lotus were first qualifying's victims, joining Alonso in comprising the bottom seven places on the grid.

Lotus driver Heikki Kovalainen was the fastest driver out of the new teams in 18th place.

The Finn spun twice on his final lap, but explained that he was going for broke. He said he already knew he would top the private new teams' battle and was simply chancing his arm in an attempt to bridge the 0.9-second gap to Kamui Kobayashi's Sauber in 17th.

Kovalainen's team-mate Jarno Trulli was 19th, ahead of Virgin pair Timo Glock and Luca di Grassi and Hispania duo Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok.



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see also
Monaco Grand Prix practice results
24 Feb 10 |  Results
Button accuses Massa of blocking
15 May 10 |  Formula 1
Monaco GP qualifying as it happened
15 May 10 |  Formula 1


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