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Nico on pole despite controversy

Monaco: Germany’s Nico Rosberg took a controversial pole position at the Monaco Grand Prix on Saturday, after an incident that denied unhappy Mercedes teammate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton the chance to beat him.

Formula One stewards summoned Mercedes to a hearing afterwards but, after reviewing video evidence, decided no offence had been committed.

The German had locked-up on the way into Mirabeau during the key final seconds of qualifying and skidded down the escape road, bringing out yellow warning flags that forced other drivers to slow.

The excursion, with Rosberg then putting the car into reverse, came just as Hamilton — behind him on the track — was on his final quick lap.

Hamilton, winner of the last four races but never before on pole in the principality, had been faster through the first sector but had to settle for second place on the grid for the season’s showcase race.

“I’m happy it worked out. Pole at home is fantastic — it couldn’t be better,” a smiling Rosberg, last year’s winner from pole and Hamilton’s closest title rival, told reporters.

“I’m sorry for what happened to Lewis. I didn’t know where exactly he was. But once I was reversing I didn’t see who was coming up. Of course it’s not great, but that’s the way it is.”

Hamilton, a forced smile on his face at the post-qualifying news conference, said it was “ironic” for his rival to secure pole in such a fashion. Speaking later to the BBC, the Briton went further. Asked whether he felt Rosberg had done it on purpose, he replied: “Potentially”.

However, Mercedes motorsport director Toto Wolff rejected that: “I don’t think anybody does that deliberately in modern Formula One,” he told reporters.

Sahara Force India’s chance to challenge Ferrai for the third position diminished after Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg managed 10th and 11th place on the grid. Ferrai are placed third with 66 points, nine more that Force India, in the constructors championship.