Nelson Piquet Jr did little to ease concerns about his place in the Renault F1 team by again failing to make it through the opening phase of qualifying, this time in Monaco.

The Brazilian looked ragged throughout the 20-minute session, running out of road at Ste Devote at the mid-point and then coming close to kissing the barriers at Portier as he chased a time that would lift him into the top 15. Sadly, Piquet - whose tenure of the seat alongside Fernando Alonso has been called into question of late - he could only improve to P16 with his final run, and was then pushed back a place by Sebastien Bourdais.

Bourdais' late effort was not enough to lift him out of the drop zone, and the Monaco F1 rookie joined Toro Rosso team-mate Sebastian Vettel in missing the cut with the new STR3. The two Red Bull-backed machines will sandwich Piquet on Sunday's grid, with only the two Force India cars forming the tenth and final row after neither Adrian Sutil or veteran Giancarlo Fisichella could muster the pace required to replicate the German's morning eighth place, albeit one set in damp conditions.

The session was headed by Felipe Massa's 1min 15.190secs effort for Ferrari - the Brazilian lapping just 0.050secs off the best of the weekend - but top spot changed hands on a regular basis between the leading runners, with Heikki Kovalainen, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen forming up behind Massa. Nico Rosberg continued to look impressive, taking fifth spot as many drivers opted to complete several laps on the same set of hard Bridgestone tyres.

 

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