Sebastian Vettel will start the F1 2011 Monaco Grand Prix from pole after he put in 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 in Q3 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 the rookie 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 while the session did re-start, no-one was able to make any major moves.
That left Jenson Button second on the grid, albeit four tenths shy of the Red Bull, while Button's team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, who had been quickest in both Q1 and Q2, had to settle for seventh. Hamilton appeared to be distracted by Felipe Massa at the start of his first flying lap and while he tried to have another go after Q3 was re-started, he could only gain one spot.
Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso meanwhile will start on row two, ahead of Michael Schumacher and Massa, with Pastor Maldonado claiming the ninth spot for Williams, just behind Nico Rosberg, who did well to get P8, especially given his off in FP3. Perez is provisionally tenth on the grid, although his participation in tomorrow's race is doubtful after his big crash.
Vitaly Petrov was just on the wrong side of the cut-off in Q2 and failed to progress to the top-ten shoot-out. He will start 11th. It was the Lotus Renault GP team's worst qualifying performance of the season, as Nick Heidfeld also went out in the sister car and his lap was good enough only for 16th.
Rubens Barrichello was the other driver not to make the cut and who looked close, but he was bumped late on by his Williams team-mate Maldonado, who made the shoot-out for the second race in a row. Kamui Kobayashi was next up and 13th for Sauber, ahead of the two Force Indias of Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil, while Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi was the slowest runner in the second session and will start 17th.
Toro Rosso had a tough time, as Jaime Alguersuari went out in Q1, joining the 'usual suspects' after a collision with Kobayashi that damaged the STR6's front wing. Both were summoned to the stewards after. It remains to be confirmed if they will get any sort of penalty.
Heikki Kovalainen led the expected casualties in Q1 for Team Lotus ahead of his team-mate, Jarno Trulli and then the Virgins of Timo Glock and Jerome d'Ambrosio. Neither of the Hispanias set a time, Vitantonio Liuzzi forced to sit out proceedings after crashing in FP3, while Narain Karthikeyan had a rear suspension issue. The stewards have yet to announce if the HRTs will be allowed to race.
To see the full times from qualifying for the F1 2011 Monaco Grand Prix in Monte Carlo - CLICK HERE