Webber maintains Red Bull pole dominance

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The Independent Online

Mark Webber paid tribute to Sir Jack Brabham after becoming the first Australian since the three-times world champion 43 years ago to claim pole for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Webber produced a stunning performance to preserve Red Bull Racing's phenomenal record this season of being on pole at every race, posting the only lap this week under 74 seconds with a blistering 1:13.826 around the principality's tight, twisty streets.

It is the 33-year-old's second pole in eight days after his lights-to-flag triumph in Spain last Sunday, his third this season as he now shares top billing with team-mate Sebastian Vettel, and fourth of his career.

With the man at the front of the grid winning four of the last five races here, Webber is on course to become the first Australian to win in Monte Carlo since Brabham achieved the feat way back in 1959, which was the first of the 84-year-old legend's career.

"This will probably sink in a little bit later," said Webber as he took stock of what he had just achieved.

"It's a sensational place to get pole position, and it's such a big result for us (Red Bull) to get that here knowing this venue has been so hard for us in the past. It's fantastic.

"But I wouldn't be here without Jack. My dad (Alan) followed him when he was a young boy, and he started the dream in the Webber household about car racing, particularly open-wheel racing.

"My dad wasn't that interested in what he calls 'taxi racing', so he liked single seaters, and that's where it started I suppose.

"But Jack is an absolute legend of the sport, and he has been very good to me over the years.

"It's an honour to get the pole today, and it would be the highlight of my career if I could join him tomorrow.

"But I've two hours work to do, so I'm under no illusion it's going to be handed to me on a plate."

Webber finished a quarter of a second quicker than his nearest rival, which was the surprise package of Robert Kubica in his Renault.

The Pole, who will now start from the front row for the first time since the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix, was top at one point in the closing 10-minute shoot-out.

In the end, Kubica could not complain about his best performance for 34 grands prix, and Renault's best since Hungary last year, following which they became embroiled in the 'crash-gate' saga that almost forced them out of the sport.

"If the same car (Red Bull) was half a second quicker at Barcelona, there was no reason why we should have qualified in front of them," assessed the 25-year-old.

"I was very surprised with our pace in practice and qualifying, but miracles don't happen from one day to the next.

"All in all when you are so close, you have to be realistic, and it was a great day for Renault.

"Five months ago the team was not sure whether it would exist, and here we are in Monaco on the front row.

"So I'm not disappointed. For myself and the team, it's a great day, a great achievement."

At least Kubica prevented another Red Bull lock-out of the front row because as in Spain Webber and team-mate Sebastian Vettel start first and third.

"If they (Webber and Kubica) don't crash at the first corner there won't be a lot of clean air tomorrow, but you never know here," said Vettel.

"It's a long race and a lot of things can happen, especially with the backmarkers, so let's see."

Behind Vettel comes Ferrari's Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton in his McLaren, with last year's winner and reigning champion Jenson Button down in eighth.

So far the Woking marque have failed to find the sweet spot around a track where they have won 15 times since 1984.

Despite that, Hamilton said: "I had fun today. I really had a great time to be honest.

"For my last lap I got everything out of the car. There was nothing left. I touched all the barriers I could, and used all the road I could use.

"It would have been great to have been on pole, and this is a place where everybody loves to win, but it's not over until it's over."

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher are sixth and seventh, with Fernando Alonso starting in the pit lane after crashing his Ferrari in final practice.