While he ultimately fell just short in his bid to steal pole position on his maiden Formula 1 appearance at Monaco, Lewis Hamilton will nevertheless begin tomorrow's race from the front row of the grid - and in fine shape to maintain his winning record there.

Although the young Briton set the pace for much of the qualifying session, he was ultimately pipped to the top spot by team-mate Fernando Alonso in the very final minutes, before traffic contrived to rob him of the chance to fight back. He remained entirely encouraged by his showing, though, as he helped McLaren to secure its first front row lock-out in almost two years.

"To start my first Formula 1 race in Monaco from the front row is amazing," enthused the 22-year-old, yet to lose in three outings around the circuit in the junior formulae, "and for the team to have a one-two is just fantastic. I have really enjoyed my weekend and qualifying was no exception.

"It's hard to explain, but around this circuit you are just constantly on the limit. My last flying lap was affected by traffic in turn four and I lost a lot of time, but that is just the challenge of this place. The car has been super all the way through, and I believe we have a strong strategy. I think it will be a great race, and hopefully Fernando and I can provide the team with a one-two finish."

Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug was equally impressed by the reigning GP2 champion's form around the unforgiving streets of the Principality.

"This was one of the most thrilling qualifying sessions here in Monaco," he stressed, "with a great result for the team. Congratulations to Fernando on his first pole position for McLaren-Mercedes and to Lewis on his performance during his first two days in Formula 1 on this challenging circuit.

"The team worked excellently from the first minute of Thursday's practice, and today brought the best reward. In the race our target is to achieve a similar result as today."

 

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