Daniel Ricciardo claimed a sensational pole position at the Monaco GP, outpacing Sebastian Vettel by two tenths of a second as Ferrari and Mercedes had no answer for a resurgent Red Bull.
Ricciardo, on top of every practice session, posted a stonking track record of 1:10.810 on his first flying lap in Q3, and even an improving Vettel couldn’t knock his former team-mate off top spot with his final effort.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton had to settle for third in F1’s most important qualifying of the season as, struggling for balance in an under-performing Mercedes, he finished almost half a second off Ricciardo.
“50 per cent done, let’s do this **** tomorrow,” roared a pumped-up Australian, while Sky F1’s Martin Brundle described his lap, on the hypersoft tyre, as “perfect” and like “poetry in motion”.
But though Ricciardo sealed his second-ever F1 pole, his and Red Bull’s first since the 2016 Monaco GP, his team-mate will start Sunday’s race at the back of the grid after suffering a gearbox issue ahead of the shootout.
Red Bull were already repairing Max Verstappen’s car from his Practice Three crash when they noticed the problem, which meant the Dutchman didn’t get out on track in qualifying.
“It feels a little bittersweet,” admitted Red Bull boss Christian Horner. “It’s frustrating with such a fast car not to have both cars on the front row.”
Hamilton will be joined on the second row by Kimi Raikkonen in the sister Ferrari, while Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was fifth and six tenths off the pace.
Sunday’s race, the jewel in F1’s crown, is live on Supersport 2 from 2.10pm.