Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher has secured the 69th Formula One pole position of his career, and only the first since his comeback in 2010. But the German faces a five-place grid penalty.
Michael Schumacher has not started from the front of the grid in F1 since returning to the sport in 2010, and he will not do so in Monaco on Sunday either. The seven-time champion has a five-place grid penalty for the race, the result of his collision with Williams driver Bruno Senna at the last Grand Prix in Spain.
Nevertheless, the 43-year-old Mercedes GP driver put down the fastest lap in qualifying on Saturday, besting Red Bull's Mark Webber by less than one tenth of a second. It's the 69th time Schumacher has topped the Saturday timesheets and also the first since 2006.
"Wow, what a feeling," a clearly overjoyed Schumacher told his team over the in-car radio shortly after navigating the narrow, undulating street circuit in a time of 1:14.301.
Webber will move up to pole for Sunday's race owing to Schumacher's penalty, while the sport's most successful driver will be relegated to sixth position. Schumacher had not topped the timesheets in a single qualifying session since his comeback with Mercedes, and is still seeking his first podium finish in his "second" career, after racking up 154 in his first stint.
Schumacher's Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg - who says he considers Monaco his home race after growing up in the principality - will start the race in second position after setting the third quickest lap of the session.
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton will start third, with Lotus-Renault returnee Romain Grosjean in fourth, while the relegated Schumacher will take to the grid sandwiched between the Ferrari duo of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.
No time from Vettel
World champion Sebastian Vettel did not set a time in the third and decisive qualifying session, putting him last of the drivers in the top-10 shootout for pole position. Vettel moves up to ninth for Sunday's race, however, courtesy of a ten-place grid penalty for Williams driver Pastor Maldonado, the winner last time out at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Force India's German charger Nico Hülkenberg was 11th-fastest on the day, while Timo Glock could only steer his Marussia-Cosworth to 20th place on the grid.
British 2009 champion Jenson Button again struggled in qualifying, failing to make the top-10 for the second time in succession. The McLaren driver will start back in 12th place.
Sauber's Sergio Perez, meanwhile, will start from the back after crashing early in the qualifying session. There appeared to be a problem with his front-left tire, which seemed to have come loose through the fast swimming pool section of the lap; he under-steered into the barriers and couldn't get his stricken car back to the pits. Monaco is an unhappy hunting ground for Perez, last year's qualifying session was interrupted after the Mexican smashed into the barriers on the exit of the tunnel. Then in his rookie season, and looking extremely quick before his accident, Perez was unable to compete in that race.
Author: Mark Hallam
Editor: Jane McIntosh