2014 Monaco GP Qualifying: Nico Rosberg takes 'hollow' pole after last-lap mistake
Rosberg mistake at Mirabeau prompts yellow flags for oncoming Hamilton, but German is cleared in post-qualy probe; Ricciardo again outqualifies Vettel; Ericsson punished for Massa clash
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 24/05/14 7:08pm
Nico Rosberg will start the Monaco GP on pole position after surviving a post-qualifying investigation into a controversial last-lap incident which effectively ended team-mate Lewis Hamilton's chances of beating him.
Eight years on from Michael Schumacher's infamous 'parking' incident at Rascasse, when the German blocked the circuit in a bid to protect his provisional pole and was later disqualified, Rosberg was at the centre of a similar fevered debate on Saturday at F1's most famous event after he brought out the yellow flags in the decisive closings stages of Q3 by running off the track.
Having held provisional pole from Hamilton at the end of the opening runs in the final shootout, Rosberg was attacking Mirabeau but locked up into the braking zone and went down the escape road. Although the German's car was off the circuit, the incident prompted the yellow flags to come out, meaning all oncoming drivers had to slow down - signalling an effective end of the session.
Hamilton was among those behind on the road starting his final lap and although the Briton did clock the fastest first sector of all, he had to back off thereafter and finished up in second place to Rosberg for the second year in a row in the Principality.
"It's a bit of a hollow pole," declared Sky F1's Martin Brundle.
Rosberg was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing by the stewards three hours after the end of qualifying and will therefore head the fourth successive all-Mercedes frontrow.
Although Rosberg immediately denied he had deliberately run off the road, a tight-lipped Hamilton appeared far from impressed with his team-mate and remarked to Sky F1: "It is ironic. I was up a couple of tenths."
The Briton had caused a stir on Thursday by claiming in an interview that the "hunger is different" between himself and Rosberg owing to their contrasting upbringings and the team-mate's bristling title rivalry may only be heightened up the events of Monaco qualifying heading into Sunday's blue-riband race.
With the yellow flags compromising the end of Q3 for all the remaining nine runners, Daniel Ricciardo stayed in third place and therefore outqualified World Champion Sebastian Vettel for the fifth time in six attempts.
However, the results of qualifying will come as a disappointment for Red Bull given they had hoped to be closer to Mercedes this weekend.
The Ferraris will share the third row, Fernando Alonso outqualifying Kimi Raikkonen by a massive seven tenths on this occasion, with Jean-Eric Vergne a superb seventh as both Toro Rossos made the top ten.
Kevin Magnussen will start eighth on his Monaco F1 debut, but McLaren team-mate Jenson Button failed to make the Q3 cut and will line up 12th. Monaco novice Daniil Kvyat - despite spinning into the wall in Q1 - took ninth with Sergio Perez rounding out the top ten in the lead Force India.
Qualifying's most bizarre incident occurred right at the end of Q1 when Caterham rookie Marcus Ericsson crashed into the side of Felipe Massa's Williams at - coincidentally - Mirabeau.
Although Massa had run wide in the corner apex to let the oncoming Swede through, Ericsson appeared to misjudge the situation, outbraked himself and collected the FW36 to send both cars into the tyre barrier.
Although Massa did manage to reverse out of the barriers and get going again, his damaged FW36 then ground to a halt further down the twisting hill on the entry to Portier and he was unable to take part in Q2. The former polesitter will therefore start 16th, three places behind Williams team-mate Valtteri Bottas who also failed to make the cut.
The resultant yellow flags for this incident ended any hope struggling Sauber had of getting either of their drivers out of Q1.