Red Bull's Ricciardo takes pole position for Monaco GP
MONACO (AP) While Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo let out a screech of joy after securing the first pole position of his career at the Monaco Grand Prix, Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton struggled to mask his latest disappointment.
Hamilton has been beset by engine problems this season and his Mercedes stalled in the pit lane exit in the final part of Saturday's qualifying. By the time he got back on track, he had little time to better Ricciardo's leading lap of 1 minute, 13.622 seconds and finished third behind Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.
While Ricciardo is not yet shaping up as a threat for the title, championship leader Rosberg is 43 points clear of Hamilton and could be even further ahead by Sunday afternoon.
''Lewis wears his heart on his sleeve and when he's had a bad day you can see it,'' Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff said. ''We are all sad about the situation, that we have these gremlins that affect our performance.''
As well as Hamilton's latest problem, both Mercedes cars had fuel pressure issues early in qualifying.
''It made the situation more demanding and stressful,'' Rosberg said.
There was no such stress for Ricciardo, whose beaming smile contrasted with Hamilton's despondent mood in the post-race news conference and the Australian driver will be confident of his fourth career win - having won three races in his debut season for Red Bull in 2014.
''I will sleep easier tonight knowing I set out what I tried to do, getting my first pole,'' Ricciardo said. ''Monaco is a driver's circuit. That extra bit of confidence and commitment goes a long a way.''
Hamilton's miserable season is in stark contrast to last year, when he largely cruised to a second straight title and third overall, wrapping it up with three races to spare.
With Monaco being arguably the hardest track in F1 to overtake on, the British driver is all but resigned to a ninth race without victory - unless there is a drastic change in weather.
''I don't really expect much from tomorrow,'' said Hamilton, whose only win in Monaco was in 2008 with McLaren. ''If the car keeps going, I'll be fighting as hard as I can with these guys. ... Hopefully it rains, that would be pretty amazing.''
Ricciardo's pole is particularly sweet for Red Bull - which came very close to cutting ties with engine supplier Renault last season as the team struggled for form.
''From the start of the season the car is getting better and better,'' Ricciardo said. ''I had a power unit upgrade here and it feels really good, you can feel it pull up the hill.''
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, who spent last season bickering with Renault, described Ricciardo's drive as ''dynamite,'' adding that ''he has been driving sensationally all weekend - just so clean.''
Ricciardo last podium was 12 races ago - second at the Singapore GP - and he has finished fourth four times this season, including at the Spanish GP two weeks ago when his 18-year-old teammate Max Verstappen became F1's youngest winner.
Verstappen's hopes of a repeat win all but ended early in qualifying.
The Dutchman was going through the swimming pool section when he lost control and his suspension seemed to break, sending him flying over the kerb and straight into the wall, heavily damaging his front wing.
''Maybe I underestimated the grip I had, turned a bit too early,'' Verstappen said. ''Then it all goes wrong.''
That has been a familiar feeling for Hamilton with engine problems this season.
''I've got no power,'' Hamilton lamented over team radio as his car stalled in the pit lane right at the start of Q1.
Later, in the news conference, a disconsolate Hamilton described what happened.
''I was just accelerating and then I had losses of power all the way down the pit lane,'' Hamilton explained. ''I don't know what to say.''
Meanwhile, Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen finished in sixth place behind the Force India of German driver Nico Hulkenberg.
But Raikkonen was expected to be handed a five-place grid penalty following an unscheduled gearbox change on his Ferrari following the morning's practice.
The grid penalty arises because the original gearbox did not complete the six consecutive races required by F1 regulations.
Brazilian driver Felipe Nasr's qualifying lasted barely three minutes when he was undone by engine failure.