British Formula 3 champion Daniel Ricciardo has taken pole position for tomorrow's Formula Renault 3.5 race in Monaco
The Australian Tech 1 driver will start the grand prix curtain-raiser ahead of his championship adversary Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin).
Qualifying was split into two 25 minute sessions to alleviate traffic difficulties, the only time this season that this will occur. Ricciardo was drawn in the second group, which had the advantage of improving track conditions, and claimed pole on his final lap with a time of 1m26.230s.
"I managed to change onto new tyres and it took a couple of laps for me to adjust, then in the last two laps I knew I had some clear space on the track," said Ricciardo.
"The main thing was to put it all together, as that's when you could push, and I was much more comfortable on the second set. I got very close to a couple of important barriers, so I was using that extra little bit more room on the track and trying to maximise it where I could."
Having initially hustled a time one second clear of the opposition, courtesy of a wheel-locking and sideways display, spectacular debutant Alexander Rossi caused the second group's session to be red-flagged six minutes prior to the chequered flag following a heavy crash at Massenet.
Reigning Formula Renault Eurocup champion Albert Costa timed his tyre change to perfection, scrubbing in new tyres just before the red flag. The Epsilon Euskadi driver, who is still convalescing from a hand injury sustained in a pre-season testing accident, finished three tenths adrift of Ricciardo and will start tomorrow's 25 lap race in third.
"I am losing a lot of time in the Casino corner [Grand Hotel hairpin] as I have a lot of pain with my finger, and I will have to race with it strapped up," said Costa. "The car was perfect, though, and I am very confident for the race. I managed to change tyres just before the red flag - I completed two laps and then the red flag came out, so I think that I was lucky."
After promising much in practice, Comtec's Stefano Coletti was slightly disappointed to qualify only fourth fastest for his home race.
"I could have done better, but on the last lap I almost hit the wall twice," said the Monegasque. "I lost a lot of time in the Tabac corner. I braked too late, did the whole corner on half throttle, and was then too late on power. But if you want to be quick, I guess that you have to take risks."
Despite being stripped of his fastest time for causing the stoppage, GP3 race winner Rossi remained third fastest in Group B. The American will line up fifth, ahead of Motorland winner Sten Pentus (Fortec).
Rossi's ISR team-mate Filip Salaquarda will lead the fourth row, being joined by Red Bull Junior driver Brendon Hartley (Tech 1), who recorded the fastest lap in Monaco last year.
Qualifying Group A:Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Mikhail Aleshin Carlin 1m27.011s 2. Stefano Coletti Comtec 1m27.317s + 0.306s 3. Sten Pentus Fortec 1m27.389s + 0.378s 4. Brendon Hartley Tech 1 1m27.450s + 0.439s 5. Daniil Move Junior Lotus 1m27.497s + 0.486s 6. Nathanael Berthon Draco 1m27.710s + 0.699s 7. Anton Nebylitskiy KMP 1m28.318s + 1.307s 8. Walter Grubmuller P1 1m28.442s + 1.431s 9. Greg Mansell Comtec 1m28.595s + 1.584s 10. Keisuke Kunimoto Epsilon Euskadi 1m28.854s + 1.843s 11. Sergio Canamasas FHV Interwetten 1m29.707s + 2.696s 12. Julian Leal Draco 1m30.797s + 3.786s Qualifying Group B:Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Daniel Ricciardo Tech 1 1m26.230s 2. Albert Costa Epsilon Euskadi 1m26.582s + 0.352s 3. Alexander Rossi ISR 1m26.921s + 0.691s 4. Filip Salaquarda ISR 1m27.477s + 1.247s 5. Nelson Panciatici Junior Lotus 1m27.528s + 1.298s 6. Jon Lancaster Fortec 1m27.573s + 1.343s 7. Daniel Zampieri Pons 1m27.658s + 1.428s 8. Jake Rosenzweig Carlin 1m27.691s + 1.461s 9. Jan Charouz P1 1m27.785s + 1.555s 10. Federico Leo Pons 1m28.059s + 1.829s 11. Victor Garcia KMP 1m28.387s + 2.157s 12. Bruno Mendez FHV Interwetten 1m31.990s + 5.760s Starting order: 1. Ricciardo 2. Aleshin 3. Costa 4. Coletti 5. Rossi 6. Pentus 7. Salaquarda 8. Hartley 9. Panciatici 10. Move 11. Lancaster 12. Berthon 13. Zampieri 14. Nebilitskiy 15. Rosenzweig 16. Grubmuller 17. Charouz 18. Mansell 19. Leo 20. Kunimoto 21. Garcia 22. Canamasas 23. Mendez 24. Leal
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