Sebastian Vettel took pole for the Monaco Grand Prix after a scintillating single lap during the final ten minutes of qualifying, but the entire session was overshadowed by a violent accident for Sauber rookie Sergio Perez.
The Mexican had yet to set a flying lap when he exited the tunnel off-line and was pitched into the right-hand barrier in much the same way as Nico Rosberg had been during morning practice. Unlike the German, however, Perez was unlucky in that his stricken car slammed broadside into the TecPro barrier protecting the area between circuit and run-off area. A lengthy delay ensued while he was assessed by medical teams and then extracted from the shattered remains of his C30.
The entire right-hand side of the car was demolished, but the cockpit section appeared largely undamaged, and concern now focuses on how much Perez's head was able to move in the impact. The rookie, however, was reported to be conscious and talking as he was taken to the medical centre.
Vettel held top spot at the time of the red flag stoppage, which came with just over two minutes remaining in the session and lasted for more than quarter of an hour, and the remaining drivers had one flying lap to respond to the world champion. Jenson Button was the closest thing to a rival for Vettel, albeit four tenths shy of the Red Bull driver, after McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton appeared to be distracted by Felipe Massa at the start of his first flying lap.
Although the session restarted, no-one was able to make any major moves, confirming Vettel and Button on the front row, while Hamilton gained just one spot, to line up seventh.
Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso will start on row two, ahead of Michael Schumacher and Massa, with Pastor Maldonado claiming the ninth spot behind Nico Rosberg.
Full report and times to follow....