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Motorsport | Formula 1

Nico Rosberg © Gallo Images

Rosberg on pole in Mercedes sweep



Germany's Nico Rosberg scorched to his third successive Formula One pole position with teammate Lewis Hamilton completing a front row lockout for Mercedes at the Monaco Grand Prix on Saturday.

The pole was the fourth in a row for Mercedes, whose qualifying form has faded in the races this season, and second successive sweep of the top-two places.

Red Bull's triple world champion Sebastian Vettel qualified third, on a drying track after a damp session, with Australian teammate and last year's winner Mark Webber lining up alongside.

Title contender Kimi Raikkonen, four points behind Vettel after five races, starts fifth for Lotus with Ferrari'sFernando Alonso in sixth place for a race where overtaking can be extremely tricky.

Rosberg could become the first son of a Monaco Grand Prix winner to win the most glamorous race on the calendar - 30 years on from his world champion father Keke's 1983 victory for Williams - but he was not about to get ahead of himself.

"It's always nice to hear statistics like that but it doesn't change much for tomorrow," said the Monaco resident who grew up in the Mediterranean principality and had dominated every practice session through the treacherous metal-fenced streets.

"In Barcelona we were struggling a lot in the race and I finished 70 seconds behind the winner. We're improving step by step, but there are still a lot of questions remaining. It (the tyre wear) is still our weakness but we'll make the best of it and who knows."

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CONFIDENCE TRICK

Hamilton, 0.91 slower than his teammate, was happy to put some recent problems behind him and to qualify second for a race that should see just two pitstops rather than the average of four witnessed in Spain.

The Briton said he was still coming to terms with the car, and gathering confidence in it, after years at McLaren.

"It's just a general feeling with me," he said. "I've just not been on it all weekend. It's not through not being focused or anything, it's just feeling comfortable in the car.

"When I was at McLaren I had obviously been there a long time and I had 100 percent confidence in the car, particularly at this track where you need it...it's just that I've been struggling to get that confidence."

A light shower before qualifying threw an element of uncertainty into the mix, with Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado fastest for Williams at the end of the first phase on a drying track that caught out Force India's Paul Di Resta.

"We didn't read the conditions well enough from the pit wall," said the Scot, who received an apology from team owner Vijay Mallya.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa did not set a time after crashing in final practice, leaving his mechanics with too much to fix and not enough time to do it.

The Brazilian, who had a sore back afterwards, will start last but remained optimistic, knowing that a safety car incident could help him get into the points on a treacherous track where anything can happen.

Frenchman Romain Grosjean was also racing against time after hitting the barriers in the morning but the Lotus driver managed to get out of the pits and into the second phase before complaining that he had been held up by a Toro Rosso.

With Massa and Di Resta out, Caterham's Dutch rookie Giedo van der Garde made it into the second phase for the first time.

Vettel was quickest in the second phase but could not match the Mercedes when it mattered most.

"It was very close. Mercedes were very quick all weekend. We know they're quick over one lap but I don't want that to sound like an excuse," said the German. "If anyone is to blame, then it's me. The car was very good."

QUALIFYING TIMES

Q3
1. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1:13.876
2. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 1:13.967
3. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) RedBull - Renault 1:13.980
4. Mark Webber (Australia) RedBull - Renault 1:14.181
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Lotus - Renault 1:14.822
6. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 1:14.824
7. Sergio Perez (Mexico) McLaren 1:15.138
8. Adrian Sutil (Germany) Force India - Mercedes 1:15.383
9. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1:15.647
10. Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso - Ferrari 1:15.703

Q2
11. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Sauber - Ferrari 1:18.331
12. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Toro Rosso - Ferrari 1:18.344
13. Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus - Renault 1:18.603
14. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams - Renault 1:19.077
15. Giedo van der Garde (Netherlands) Caterham - Renault 1:19.408
16. Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams - Renault 1:21.688

Q1
17. Paul Di Resta (Britain) Force India - Mercedes 1:26.322
18. Charles Pic (France) Caterham - Renault 1:26.633
19. Esteban Gutierrez (Mexico) Sauber - Ferrari 1:26.917
20. Max Chilton (Britain) Marussia - Cosworth 1:27.303
21. Jules Bianchi (France) Marussia - Cosworth
22. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari

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