No-one could have predicted the make-up of the final five places in Formula One qualifying at the Monaco Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton joining the BMW Sauber and Toyota pairings in the drop zone at a race he was tipped to star in.

While BMW Sauber and Toyota have both struggled for pace this weekend, and featured consistently towards the bottom of the timesheets as a result, Hamilton had enjoyed perhaps his best weekend of the year so far, running at the sharp end and looking a candidate for a top five start, if not pole position.

However, sitting seventh on the interim timesheets, the world champion lost the rear of his McLaren on the run to Mirabeau and swiped his left rear corner of the tyre barrier at the top of the descent to Loews. The blow was enough to break the car's suspension, stranding Hamilton on track and - unable to return to the pits - out of qualifying for the rest of the afternoon.

Whether another driver would be forced to drop out of the second phase while Hamilton walked disconsolately back to the pits was rendered a moot point when the Briton was finally relegated to 16th spot by Sebastien Bourdais last-second lap, leaving the Briton 16th, and ahead of Nick Heidfeld, Robert Kubica, Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock, all of whom flirted with safety before finally being relegated to the final two rows.

Nico Rosberg snatched fastest time of the session as the flag appeared, clocking 1min 15.094secs to topple points leader Jenson Button, while Mark Webber completed the top three as Red Bull finally showed its horns. Felipe Massa, despite wiping the nose of his Ferrari on the Swimming Pool wall on his first out-lap, bounced back to fourth spot, ahead of countryman Rubens Barrichello, who was topping the charts at the time of Hamilton's faux pas.