Britain's Jenson Button, in his Brawn GP, grabbed pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday at the end of Saturday's qualifying sessions. Lewis Hamilton, who won the race last year, suffered a crash and will start in sixteenth place.
AFP - World championship leader Jenson Button grabbed pole position on Saturday for Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix with a perfectly-timed hot lap in the final seconds of qualifying.
The 29-year-old Englishman delivered a best time of one minute and 14.902 seconds in his Brawn GP car to secure his fourth pole in six races this year and the seventh of his career.
He outpaced nearest rival Finn Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari by two-hundredths of a second in a dramatic conclusion to a keenly fought session.
Button's Brazilian team-mate Rubens Barrichello was third ahead of Germany's Sebastian Vettel in a Red Bull and Brazilian Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari.
German Nico Rosberg was sixth for Williams and Finn Heikki Kovalainen seventh for McLaren Mercedes ahead of Australian Mark Webber, in the second Red Bull, two-time champion Fernando Alonso of Renault and Japan's Kazuki Nakajima in the second Williams.
There was further woe, meanwhile, for British reigning champion Lewis Hamilton of McLaren, who crashed out of qualifying in the first session.
"I think Jenson is getting into the habit of saving the best for last," said Brawn team chief Ross Brawn.
"He knew that was the lap where he had to produce it and he's just driving exceptionally well at the moment."
The final showdown began with Vettel on top before Rosberg delivered a 1:15.602 lap and then Vettel replied, the leading cars all giving it their utmost on varying fuel loads going into the final minutes.
Earlier, the full session began in warm sunshine with an air temperature of 25 degrees Celsius and a track temperature of 43 degrees, warm enough to create some pressures for several teams including Ferrari, Red Bull and BMW Sauber where engines were changed on the cars to be run by Massa, Vettel and Kubica.
When the action started, Massa, seeming to be in a hot-headed mood, lost control of his car at the Swimming Pool complex, damaging the front end.
Vettel went top and then Kovalainen as the the Ferrari mechanics did their best to keep Massa calm while his car was repaired.
The Brawns then took over, Button going top followed quickly by Barrichello on his 37th birthday before Hamilton slammed into the barriers at Mirabeau, losing his rear end and triggering a red flag to halt the session and end his participation.
Hamilton was left to trudge back to the pits, his hopes virtually ruined as he was eliminated after the first mini-session along with German Nick Heidfeld and his BMW Sauber team-mate Pole Robert Kubica and the two Toyotas driven by Italian Jarno Trulli and German Timo Glock.
Hamilton said: "I just don't know what I was thinking. I made a mistake. It's a mistake and I made it. It's a shame because the weekend had been going so well - I just want to apologise to the team for wasting their time, but at least Heikki is still there.
"It has been just so tough, but you have to learn from these mistakes and I will. It's a shame it happened so early in qualifying one, but I will just have to try and make up for it in the race. Going for a win in this race - that sure is over now."
Rosberg was fastest for Williams ahead of Button and Webber.
A disgruntled Heidfeld said: "We have made so many changes this weekend, but no matter what we do, we are still miles away.
"It's very disappointing. I think it will have to be a one-stop strategy now, but I have been here before in a slow car and it could be possible still to pick up points."
The second part-session, Q2, saw Button put himself briefly in peril, but survive and it was Raikkonen who emerged fastest ahead of fellow Finn Kovalainen.
The Toro Rossos of Swiss Sebastien Buemi and his French team-mate Sebastien Bourdais both failed to make the top ten shootout along with Brazilian Nelson Piquet of Renault, Italian Giancarlo Fisichella and his Force India team-mate Adrian Sutil.
Trulli, outraged at his early elimination, claimed that he had been blocked in Q1 by Alonso and promised to raise it with the race stewards as the teams finalised their strategy and fuel loads for Q3 and the opening of the race on Sunday.
Date created : 2009-05-23