Vettel secures pole position at Monaco GP

By JEROME PUGMIRE | May 28, 2011 | 9:58 AM EDT

MONACO (AP) — Formula One championship leader Sebastian Vettel secured his fifth pole of the season after posting the fastest time in Saturday's crash-marred qualifying session at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Vettel's fast lap of 1 minute, 13.556 seconds gave Red Bull its sixth straight pole, ahead of McLaren's Jenson Button and Vettel's teammate Mark Webber.

Webber took the pole at last week's Spanish Grand Prix, Vettel took the previous four poles and already leads McLaren's Lewis Hamilton overall by 41 points.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was quickest in the final practice Saturday morning, but dropped to fourth in qualifying.

Mexico's Sergio Perez was taken to the hospital after crashing his Sauber exiting the tunnel near the end of qualifying, one of three accidents during the session.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

MONACO (AP) — Fernando Alonso gave Ferrari another boost when he posted the fastest time in Saturday's third practice session at the Monaco Grand Prix, with championship leader Sebastian Vettel fourth best for Red Bull.

Ferrari has been lagging behind Red Bull all season, but this race weekend is the first time it has been faster in practice.

Two-time former F1 champion Alonso was quicker than Vettel in Thursday's second practice, and the Spaniard again made the most of the supersoft optional tires to record a best lap time of 1 minute, 14.433 seconds in the third practice.

McLaren's Jenson Button was second quickest in 1:14.996, while Alonso's teammate Felipe Massa was third in 1:15.024.

Defending champion Vettel clocked 1:15.245, but the German ran on prime soft tires.

Vettel will look to power his Red Bull to a fifth pole position of the season in qualifying later Saturday.

Alonso has only managed one podium this season — third in Turkey — compared to four wins out of five for Vettel.

Practice was interrupted twice as drivers raced around the sinewy, barrier-lined circuit under perfect blue skies.

Early into the session, Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg walked away unharmed when he went into a crash barrier after flying out of the tunnel and swerving off to the right.

"We think Nico locked the rears over the bumps coming out of the tunnel," Rosberg's Mercedes teammate Michael Schumacher said over the race radio. "He had very low rear tire pressures at the time, which probably contributed to the problem."

Rosberg, who had shown good form with the third-fastest times in both of Thursday's practice sessions, faces a wait to see if his Mercedes is repaired in time for qualifying.

Toward the end a second red flag went up when Vitantonio Liuzzi crashed sideways into the barriers at the Sainte Devolte turn. The Italian was also unharmed and his Hispania car was airlifted away.