The qualifying lap record for the Monaco Grand Prix was not just broken, it was absolutely smashed into oblivion by Red Bull-Renault's Daniel Ricciardo. Red Bull had been tipped to have an advantage around the tight and twisty 3.337 km, 19-turn Circuit de Monaco. It is a track where the high-speed handling prowess and power of Mercedes AMG F1 and Ferrari would be second to the prowess of Red Bull's RB14 on slow-speed and twisty corners.
Ricciardo's lap of 1min.10.810sec. was well under last year's pole position time of 1min.12.178sec. that had been set by Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen. That lap would only have been good enough for tenth place on the starting grid this year as continued development by F1 grid pushed the cars to the limit. Softer tyre compounds and a resurfaced circuit also played its part in tumbling lap times.
Ricciardo set that stunning time on his first run in the third and final segment of qualifying, after which any possibility of anyone else besting the Australian disappeared. Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was the 'best of the rest' with a lap that was 0.229 seconds slower than that of his former Red Bull teammate.
Defending world champion and current driver's championship leader Lewis Hamilton was third, 0.193 seconds slower than Vettel. Raikkonen was fourth, just 0.034 seconds off Hamilton's best effort and the second Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was fifth, 0.175 seconds slower than his Finnish compatriot Raikkonen.
Max Verstappen suffered a massive crash in the third free practice session that preceded qualifying, which put Red Bull under extreme pressure to get his car repaired and ready for qualifying. The Dutchman failed to make it out of the first segment of qualifying.
This meant that sixth place went to Force India-Mercedes' Esteban Ocon, whose best lap was 0.620 seconds slower than Raikkonen's and just 0.049 seconds faster than McLaren-Renault's Fernando Alonso.
Renault F1's Carlos Sainz Jr. was eighth fastest, just 0.020 seconds slower than Alonso while the second Force India of Sergio Perez was placed ninth, 0.024 seconds behind the Renault. Toro Rosso-Honda's Pierre Gasly completed the top ten with a lap just 0.067 seconds slower than Perez's best effort.