Nico Rosberg says Daniel Ricciardo's maiden pole position is 'well-deserved' as the Red Bull driver outclassed the opposition in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix.

For only the third time since the start of the 2014 F1 season (44 weekends), a Mercedes driver will not start on pole position as Ricciardo's faultless lap around the Principality put three tenths between himself and Rosberg.

Crucially, however, Rosberg will get underway ahead of key rival Lewis Hamilton, opening up another opportunity to put more distance between himself and his Mercedes team-mate. Even so, Rosberg says his pure focus is to defeat Ricciardo and win a fourth consecutive Monaco Grand Prix.

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I look forward," the German said. "I want to win the race tomorrow and that's what I'm here for. That's why I was a bit disappointed with today, because I was hoping for pole. The focus is just on winning the race and I don't want to think beyond that at all in anyway because that's what I want to achieve tomorrow.

"He [Ricciardo] was quicker and I put some good laps in but it wasn't enough. They've done a good job and it's a well-deserved first pole, so congrats for that.

Looking ahead to the race, Rosberg is confident Mercedes has the better race pace than Ricciardo - who will start on super-softs -, but concedes the start will ultimately be the crucial moment.

"On Thursday our race pace was looking better than theirs, but that's not really relevant. The start is going to be important and maybe I can get one back on him because he beat me off the startline in China because he had a softer tyre than me and I had a harder tyre at the time - maybe now it's the reverse and I'll try to get one back on him.

"Of course the run down to Turn 1 is very short, so I'll try but can't count on that too much. After that it's still a long race and I'll need to keep the pressure up."