Mark Webber was fastest in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix on Saturday to give Red Bull its sixth straight start from pole position this Formula One season.
The Australian, coming off a victory at the Spanish GP in which he led all the way, had a quickest lap time of 1 minute, 13.826 seconds around the winding street circuit to claim his fourth career pole.
Robert Kubica of Renault was second ahead of Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull. Felipe Massa of Ferrari will start from fourth, followed by Lewis Hamilton of McLaren.
Fernando Alonso will start from pit lane after missing qualifying because his Ferrari was damaged by crashing into a barrier during the final practice session earlier on Saturday.
Webber beat Kubica by nearly three-tenths of a second to set a course record for pole.
“Pole at Monaco is a nice feeling, obviously,” Webber said.
“I’ll use my experience and try to get through the race.”
The Australian looks set for a fourth career victory, with teams struggling to match Red Bull’s pace all season and the narrow circuit offering few overtaking chances.
“You have to be very accurate [here]),” Webber said. “It was a good way to finish the session. It’s a tough venue tomorrow.”
Kubica was on the leaders’ pace in each of the three practice sessions and the Pole dominated the final qualifying session, along with Webber.
“For sure, a good effort for us, for the team,” Kubica said. “I think we couldn’t do better.”
Overall F1 leader and defending champion Jenson Button will start eighth, behind Mercedes pair Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.
Alonso, who set the previous pole record on his way to victory four years ago, watched qualifying from Ferrari’s garage.
The Spaniard slid into the the wall at Massenet corner after 21 minutes of the final free practice session, damaging his car’s chassis, the front suspension and losing his front right tyre.
“I lost the car,” Alonso said. “It was driver error.”
He will start behind the six cars from the new teams after Lotus, Virgin and HRT all failed to get past the first qualifying round for the sixth straight session.
Despite 23 cars being on track for that first session, there were no traffic incidents. Vitaly Petrov swerved into the first corner padding and will start 14th.
Vettel, who starts third for the second straight race, believes his best chance of winning lies with one of the top two going out early.
“If they don’t crash into the first corner, there won’t be a lot of clean air,” the German driver said. “But if you think you are unbeatable you are also a fool.”
Kubica said Red Bull’s dominating speed would not guarantee a win.
“It’s not about race pace but bringing the car home,” Kubica said. “Race pace helps, but even if you are one second slower or quicker it doesn’t matter here.”
Button leads the overall standings with 70 points. Alonso has 67, Vettel 60 and Webber 53. Hamilton and Massa each have 49, while Kubica has 44. – Sapa-AP