Qualifying - last-gasp Button steals Monaco pole 23 May 2009
For a while it seemed like Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen would take the pole in Monaco on Saturday afternoon, after a series of quick laps left him on 1m 14.927s, but right at the end Jenson Button rushed through to take his customary pole for Brawn with 1m 14.902s. Team mate Rubens Barrichello, celebrating his 37th birthday, snatched third with 1m 15.077s.
t was another gripping qualifying session, which saw one pre-race favourite, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, left 16th on the grid after hitting a wall and failing to progress beyond Q1.
Sebastian Vettel produced some great form for Red Bull to take fourth on 1m 15.271s, ahead of Felipe Massa who was lucky to survive a Q1 incident himself. The Brazilian took his Ferrari round in 1m 15.437s.
Nico Rosberg was sixth for Williams on 1m 15.455s ahead of McLaren survivor Heikki Kovalainen on 1m 15.516s and Mark Webber in the second Red Bull on 1m 15.653s. Renault's Fernando Alonso and Williams' Kazuki Nakajima share the fifth row with 1m 16.009s and 1m 17.344s apiece.
The sole incident of Q2 came when Nelson Piquet spun his Renault exiting Anthony Noghes, just missing the barrier. He also just missed the cut, his lest lap of 1m 15.837s leaving him 12th just behind Sebastien Buemi, who lapped his Toro Rosso in 1m 15.833s.
Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil also predictably failed to make it through after strong showings for Force ndia, sandwiching Sebastien Bourdais Toro Rosso. The talian - who had two times disallowed for cutting chicanes - lapped in 1m 16.146s, the Frenchman in 1m 16.281s and the German in 1m 16.545s.
Up front, the times had been incredibly close behind quickest man Raikkonen, whose 1m 14.514s proved to be the weekends fastest lap. There were just seven-hundredths of a second between Kovalainen in second and Vettel in sixth, with Webber, Barrichello and Rosberg squeezed in the gap.
The Q1 session had got off to an exciting start when Massa tweaked the nose of his Ferrari after sliding out of control in the second part of the Swimming Pool, but he lived to fight on.
Hamilton did not. Having set what was at that time the seventh fastest lap of 1m 16.264s, the world champion got out of shape approaching Mirabeau and oversteered into the outer wall after 12 minutes, damaging his McLaren's left rear suspension. When Bourdais lapped his Toro Rosso in 1m 16.120s, the unthinkable happened and he was unable to go through to Q2. t was a disaster for the team.
Nick Heidfeld pipped BMW Sauber team mate Robert Kubica to 17th, 1m 16.264s to 1m 16.405s, while a spin from Timo Glock prevented him from keeping ahead of Toyota partner Jarno Trulli, who complained to stewards of being baulked by Alonso's Renault. They lapped respectively in 1m 16.788s and 1m 16.548s to occupy the last row of the grid.