Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton clinched his first ever pole at the Monaco Grand Prix after a strong drive Saturday while his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg will start from second as he bids to win the race for the third straight year.
In last year's race, Rosberg took pole but angered Hamilton when he crashed under no apparent pressure right at the end of the session, bringing it to a halt just as the British driver was poised to beat his time.
There was no repeat of that incident on Saturday but Rosberg had to pit right at the end of qualifying after locking his right tire.
Hamilton, who has taken pole in five of six races, clocked 1 minute, 15.098 seconds, with Rosberg .342 behind and Sebastian Vettel .751 back after being fastest in third and final qualifying.
“Did I get it?” asked Hamilton as he finished his run, but there was no doubt he'd taken his 43rd career pole position.
“I can't express how happy I am, it wasn't the easiest session. I didn't have the rhythm until the last two laps,” Hamilton said. “This track is so hard, it's like climbing a ladder: sometimes you slide back down, sometimes you go back up. This is not even half the job. There's so much to do tomorrow, it's going to be mentally and physically challenging.”
Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat were fourth and fifth, respectively, ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen as drivers switched to the new and faster Pirelli supersoft tires.
Nine of the past 10 winners at the Monaco GP have been from pole, with the only exception being Hamilton when he won from third place in 2008 — the year he won his first title.