The nimble Red Bulls were looking rapid all weekend around Monaco's twisting, narrow streets. Daniel Ricciardo was able to use this pace to claim pole. But his teammate, Max Verstappen, crashed before the session.
Daniel Ricciardo set the fastest qualifying lap in the history of Monaco on Saturday, shaving more than a second off last year's pole time. His agile Red Bull had looked impressive in practice, having the better of Mercedes and Ferrari around Monaco's street circuit, an unusually slow and winding track by F1's standards.
"We set a statement on Thursday, we've been quickest every session. Just the race tomorrow, then we'll celebrate," Ricciardo told Sky commentator David Coulthard after jumping out of the car. "I've done everything I can so far, let's finish this job tomorrow. I'm pumped, it's been a good few days."
Ricciardo's main rival for pole position looked set to be his teammate, Max Verstappen. But the Dutch driver crashed in the morning practice session. It later transpired that he had damaged his gearbox, and Red Bull were unable to replace it in time for him to compete in qualifying. Verstappen will start from the back on Sunday, and could struggle to work his way through the field even in the quickest car: Overtaking at Monaco is notoriously difficult.
Team boss Christian Horner was quite pointed in his criticism of Verstappen — who has had a series of mishaps this season — on British television after the session.
"This place bites," Horner told Channel 4. "He got bitten pretty hard today in a session that doesn't really count for anything except setting up the car. He in a car that is capable of winning this grand prix and that will hurt him even more. You don't get that many opportunities to win a Monaco GP. He needs to learn from it, and stop making these errors. He knows that more than anybody."
Vettel second, Hamilton third
Ricciardo's advantage was slightly narrower than practice lap times had suggested, though, with Sebastian Vettel less than a quarter of a second adrift in second. Lewis Hamilton put the lead Mercedes on third on the grid.
"Congratulations to Daniel. They've had the pace all weekend, we knew they would," Hamilton said. "I've given it everything I could. I improved a little bit but wasn't able to hold onto it. We're going to make sure we're on our toes and able to react tomorrow. We don't mind if Red Bull are quick here, because there are more tracks like Barcelona [where Hamilton won last week] and we'll try to capitalize on those ones."
Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest for Ferrari, while his fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas claimed fifth on the grid.
In the battle to be "best of the rest" after the top three teams, veterans Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez were scrapping it out with the new kids on the block. Alonso claimed seventh for McLaren, behind Force India's Esteban Ocon and just in front of Renault's Carlos Sainz. Perez qualified ninth in the second Force India, with Pierre Gasly also claiming a top 10 spot for Toro Rosso.
German Nico Hülkenberg in the second Renault narrowly missed out on the top 10 shootout for pole position, finishing 11th fastest in the second segment of qualifying.