Nico Rosberg took pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix in controversial circumstances on Saturday, ahead of his unhappy Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo.
The Mercedes pair went out for one final qualifying lap with less than a minute remaining and Rosberg lost control coming out of the Mirabeau turn, sliding down an escape road. After Rosberg backed out onto the circuit, a yellow flag came up which meant that Hamilton could not improve on his time.
''I thought it was over once that happened, because I thought the track could ramp up and somebody else could beat the time,'' Rosberg said. ''Of course that's not great, but that's the way it is.''
Stewards later said they are investigating Rosberg's maneuver on turn 5.
''I just locked up, the outside front (tire), I think it was, or the inside, I'm not sure,'' Rosberg said. ''I was still trying to make it but in the last moment I had to turn out because I was going to hit the tire wall, but I managed to go into the escape road.''
It's the second pole of the season for Rosberg. Hamilton has the other four.
Rosberg's leading time was 1 minute, 15.989 seconds, with Hamilton clocking 1:16.048 and Ricciardo timed at 1:16.384.
Hamilton has won the past four races and leads the overall standings by three points from Rosberg, who won the season opener in Australia, where Hamilton retired with engine failure.
Four-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel of Germany finished fourth, while Fernando Alonso of Ferrari was fifth.
While Rosberg was smiling at the post-qualifying news conference, Hamilton looked stern-faced and gave short answers. He would only say ''not really much'' and ''I was on target, yeah'' when asked what he thought about the incident.
Rosberg tried to soothe the situation.
''Of course I'm sorry for Lewis, I didn't know where he was,'' Rosberg said. ''Of course, yeah it's not great.''
Asked to respond to Rosberg's apology, Hamilton shrugged his shoulders and mumbled: ''I don't have an answer to it.''
Told that it was ironic that Rosberg's mistake had led to the yellow flag and stopped the British driver, Hamilton flatly responded ''yeah, it's ironic.''
On the track, Rosberg looked jubilant - as if he had proved a point - clenching his fists victoriously as he stepped out of his Mercedes, with Hamilton standing close by.
Hamilton, the 2008 F1 champion, recently