Nico Rosberg secured his third successive pole position after Mercedes came out top in a dramatic qualifying session ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix.
Rain showers prior to the start made the early stages of the session something of a lottery, but with the streets of Monte Carlo having dried out by the time Q3 arrived, the fight for pole came down to a straight-forward battle where outright pace was the key.
With the drivers running on slicks by the time Q3 came around, Mercedes were expected to be at the head of the pack given their practice pace and it proved to be the case as Rosberg emerged on top of the pile.
Concerns that rain could be about to return saw the drivers head out on track as soon as the circuit went green and on their final runs, it was Rosberg and team-mate Lewis Hamilton who locked out the front row.
Hamilton had been the first man to set a quick time in the ten minute session as he was the first man to lap into 1min 15secs but that time quickly came down as both Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber jumped ahead.
However with the chequered flag out, Hamilton then posted a time of 1min 13.967secs to jump onto provisional pole only for Rosberg to cross the line seconds later to better his mark by just 0.091secs.
Vettel was still to cross the line on his final lap but couldn't better the Mercedes pair and had to settle for third spot. Webber joins him on the second row having elected to abort his final lap in the session.
Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso share row three having failed to match the pace of the front-runners, with the pair nearly a second off the front-running pace, with Sergio Perez and Adrian Sutil rounding out the top eight. Jenson Button had to settle for ninth having suffered a loss of power on is final run while the top ten was completed by Jean-Eric Vergne – who managed to take his Toro Rosso through to Q3 for the first time.
The ten who made it through to Q3 did so after a dramatic end to the second part of qualifying, where drivers were forced to dive into the pits in the closing minutes for dry tyres.
Times tumbled as a result as the chequered flag flew, with Nico Hulkenberg the best placed of those to miss out in eleventh ahead of Daniel Ricciardo. Romain Grosjean was 13th for Lotus following his practice accident, with the Frenchman having managed to make it past Q1 despite having only being able to carry out one flying lap.
Unable to replicate the top four time he posted in Q1, the Frenchman instead starts down on row seven of the grid alongside Valtteri Bottas, with Giedo van der Garde and Pastor Maldonado on row eight.
Van der Garde proved to be one of the stars of the session as he carried Caterham into Q2 for the first time this season thanks to a strong lap in Q1, with the Dutchman running as high as fourth in the second 15 minute segment as drivers made the decision to switch to slicks. Maldonado meanwhile was too late to make the switch to dry tyres and having paced Q1, the Williams man found himself on the bottom of the pile in Q2.
Van der Garde's charge into Q2 came at the expense of Force India's Paul di Resta, who now faces a huge challenge to maintain his strong scoring run this season after failing at the first hurdle of the session.
The Scot was left to rue his team's tactics after he didn't get a run on new intermediate tyres and ended up three-tenths of a second away from the cut-off point. Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez also missed out on Q2 in 19th spot behind the Caterham of Charles Pic, with Max Chilton 20th fastest for Marussia.
Chilton's team-mate Jules Bianchi failed to set a time as his car ground to a halt at Massenet on its out lap with an airbox fire, while Felipe Massa failed to make it out onto the circuit following his accident in practice – with Ferrari simply unable to repair the damage sustained in the short amount of time between FP3 and qualifying.
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