Monte Carlo, Monaco – Nico Rosberg from Mercedes claimed his third consecutive Formula One pole after winning Saturday's qualifying session for the Monaco Grand Prix.
With wet weather throughout the session, Rosberg's teammate, Lewis Hamilton, briefly held the provisional pole in the closing seconds of the final segment (Q3). But Rosberg's last lap around this tricky 2.075-mile, 19-turn Monte Carlo street circuit was clocked in 1 minute, 13.876 seconds, allowing him to top Hamilton by only 0.091 seconds.
Light rain fell intermittently during all three qualifying segments, making it difficult for teams in their tire selections.
"It could have been a lot easier out there today," Rosberg said. "The conditions were all over the place, and as soon as it started drizzling again, the lap times started getting a lot slower, even on the (intermediate) tires. So it was really difficult.
"You had to be out there at the right time with the right tires, especially in Q2 when we had to change over to slicks. But I'm really happy. Everything went to plan, and the last lap was okay. It's great to be on pole again, especially at Monaco."
Rosberg recorded the quickest times in each of the three practice sessions.
It's the fourth straight grand prix a Mercedes driver has started on the pole. Hamilton, in his first season with the team, earned the top starting position for the Chinese Grand Prix last month. This also is the second race in a row that Mercedes has its drivers on the front starting row. Rosberg sat on the pole and Hamilton on the outside of him for the May 12 Spanish Grand Prix.
"I've been struggling all weekend," Hamilton said. "My pace has been bad all weekend. I've been struggling with the car, and that's the first time I've had that experience here in Monaco since 2005. Every year I was on it, and I didn't have any problems with confidence or anything like that. So I'm really happy to be here and obviously lock out the front row for the team."
Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber qualified third and fourth, respectively. Red Bull has won the last three Monaco GPs, with Webber scoring the victory in this race in 2010 and '12, and Vettel taking the checkered flag in '11.
"I think it was very close," said Vettel, who was quickest in Q2. "Mercedes has been very quick all weekend. I don't want that to sound like an excuse. It didn't come together on the last lap. The car was very, very good, but if there is anyone to blame, it's me."
Vettel, the three-time defending F1 world champion, enters this 78-lap race with just a four-point lead over Kimi Raikkonen, who qualified fifth.
The pole sitter for the Monaco GP has won it in eight of the last nine years, including the previous four. Hamilton picked up the victory from the third starting spot in 2008 when he drove for McLaren.
Fernando Alonso from Ferrari qualified sixth. Alonso's teammate, Felipe Massa, did not participate in qualifying after crashing in final practice, which was held earlier in the day. He was not injured, but his car sustained heavy damage. Massa will start from the rear of the field.
Lotus' Romain Grosjean and Adrian Sutil from Force India also wrecked in the last practice, but both drivers were able to have their cars repaired in time to qualify. Sutil placed eighth, and Grosjean was 13th.
McLaren's Sergio Perez will start seventh, while his teammate, Jenson Button, will roll off in ninth. Jean-Eric Vergne placed his Toro Rosso 10th on the grid.
Sunday's Monaco GP is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. ET.