Mercedes' Nico Rosberg starts the 2013 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix from pole position. The German will be eager to claim a second career race win, following a first place at the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix.
The son of legendary Formula 1 driver Keke Rosberg, Nico will also have the advantage of his team mate, Lewis Hamilton, as a buffer between himself and the hard-charging defending world champion, Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull. The former McLaren driver, a world champion five years ago, qualified second on the grid to give the team a second straight one-two grid start.
Lotus-Renault's Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, second and third in the championship table this season, had relatively poor qualifying sessions and will start fifth and sixth repetitively.
Where to Watch Live
The race is scheduled to start at 1pm BST. Live coverage starts at 11.30am BST on Sky F1. Radio commentary is on BBC Radio 5 live at 1pm BST. Real time Internet updates are available on the Live Timing section of the sport's official Web site.
Championship Standings Review
Alonso's victory at the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks ago and the fact Vettel could manage only fourth closed a 30-point gap between the two rivals. Heading into the Monaco Grand Prix, the Red Bull driver remains on top but now only 17 points separate the top three; Raikkonen is second with 85 points to Vettel's 89.
The Red Bull, Lotus and Ferrari drivers are beginning to pull away from the rest of the field, with Hamilton fourth on 50. Felipe Massa is fourth with 45 points and pole sitter Rosberg rounds out the top five, three points behind the second Ferrari.
In the race for the constructors' title, Ferrari's 1-3 finish at the Circuit de Cataluña boosted them into second, 14 points behind Red Bull's 131 point tally. Lotus are third with 111. Mercedes are fourth with 72 points and will hope for strong finishes from both drivers in this race to close that gap.
McLaren-Mercedes, normally at the sharp end of the table, have struggled this season, and barring a drastic change in fortunes are unlikely to compete for the title. Drivers Jenson Button and Sergio Perez trail the Force India team, who are fifth with 32 points.
Q1 and at least half of Q2 were run on the intermediate tyres, following some rain and a slippery track. The changing weather conditions allowed a number of teams and drivers the chance to run in pole and/or at the sharp end of the grid, including McLaren's Jenson Button.
Once the rain stopped, the racing line emerged and the slicks came out though, Vettel was quickly back to speed. The German posted 1:14.333 to temporarily hold the top spot but the Mercedes team's runs, in the final minute of the session dropped the Red Bull to third.
Alonso and Ferrari started the weekend strongly; his time from the first practice session on Thursday was only 0.087s off Rosberg but that gap has widened steadily. In the second session later that day the Spaniard dropped 0.437s back and was almost a second slower in the final session. His qualifying time was equally slow - 1:14.824 to Rosberg's 1:13.876.
Raikkonen will start ahead of the Ferrari but only by 0.002s... two-thousandths of a second. In terms of sheer performance, there is very little between the Italians and the Lotus, so it could all come down to who manages the Pirellis better or who, perhaps, can stay out for those few extra laps.
Vettel's team mate, Webber, starts fourth. The Australian may not be in contention for the world championship just yet... but he is a two-time winner here (2010 and 2012) and remains a good bet for a strong podium finish this year. And after the debacle at the Malaysian Grand Prix, he will not give Vettel any quarter or help.
Elsewhere on the grid and in qualifying, Caterham-Renault enjoyed a best ever qualifying performance, with Giedo van der Garde taking 15th on the grid. The Dutchman will start ahead of Williams' Pastor Maldonado, Force India's Paul di Resta and Sauber-Ferrari's Esteban Gutierrez.
According to the sport's official Web site, Massa will be given a five-place grid penalty for chaning his gearbox. The Ferrari driver crashed heavily in the third practice session, on Saturday, after losing control heading into the first corner - Ste Devote. The Brazilian damaged his car badly and was forced to sit out of qualifying. He will now start, officially, from the back of the grid, and probably from the pit lane, with a full tank and fresh tyres.
The Italian tyre manufacturers have brought P Zero Yellow (soft) and P Zero Red (supersoft) to Monaco and the top ten drivers will all begin on the latter, assuming it doesn't rain before the race start.
And given tyre durability has been the most controversial subject in the sport this year, the big question is - who will crack first?
Mercedes have struggled for race pace this year and are not the best at conserving the rubber. Rosberg ran 27 laps on the supersoft in a practice session and while that is encouraging, he is unlikely to extend his race run for so long.
Red Bull also have trouble managing tyres but all of that may not matter so much on a circuit where tyre degradation is not really an issue. Meanwhile, Ferrari have used their tyres well in the last couple of races (at Spain and Bahrain), as have Lotus.
- Circuit Length: 3.340km
- Number of Laps: 78
- 2012 Pole: Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing) 1:14.301
- 2012 Winner: Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing)
- Lap Record: Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) 1:14.439
No rain has been forecast for Sunday afternoon; the race starts at 1pm local time. Air temperature is expected to hover between 17C and 18C for the entire race. Winds of up to 15km/h, from a south-south-easterly direction are expected. These should come off the harbour and, roughly, just wide off the drivers' left shoulders as the cars come out of the tunnel under the Fairmont and enter the Harbour section.