Hello and welcome to ESPN's live coverage of qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Ferrari turned a few heads in this morning's practice session - Vettel topped the session, but how much were Mercedes holding in reserve? We've seen Mercedes turn the wick up in qualifying time and time again since the start of last year.

The most notable absence from that list is the world champion, Lewis Hamilton. For all his accolades and all his talent, he's either never had the car or never put together the perfect lap on Saturday in Monte Carlo. Or his team-mate has done something mischievous...

Either way, he'll be looking to end that statistic this afternoon.

It's very cloudy in the sky and the timing screens say there is a 20% chance of rain later on. Better start doing your best rain dance now.

I'm very excited to see how the Toro Rosso rookies fare this afternoon. We saw a very good Sainz finish fifth this morning, while Verstappen stole Thursdays headlines with P2. Fuel loads are unknown, of course, but it's a hugely impressive achievement on a track he's never driven at.

Just over five minutes until the start of qualifying.

Lots of media build-up focusing on the events of last year, but Ferrari are ready to pounce this year on any issues out in front.

Air temperature currently 19 degrees, track is 29. Lots of drivers struggling to get heat into the tyres so far in practice.

Also keep an eye on McLaren, which hopes to get its first points of the season here, and Force India, which was in and around the top ten this morning.

The cars make their way to the end of the pit lane. We're about ready to get this one under way.

I can also confirm Raikkonen only had minor damage to his wheel rim from that shunt in FP3, so he'll be competing in this session.

Lots of drivers struggling to find space for their flying laps as Verstappen backs his team-mate into the Williams pair.

Stevens goes top ever so briefly but is knocked down by Verstappen, who crosses with a 1:19.024. Team-mate Sainz crosses nearly five seconds down, suggesting he bailed out from that lap.

Ericsson told to keep pushing as the tyres still need temperature. That'll be a big problem for the drivers this afternoon.

Vettel puts himself into P1 on the soft tyre, but Hamilton goes quicker by 1.4s. Rosberg slots himself in between the former multiple world champions. Hamilton's benchmark a 1:16.884.

Behind the top three, Ricciardo and Maldonado look handy in fourth and fifth and have looked pretty solid throughout practice this weekend.

Rosberg picks up a bit of traffic behind Ricciardo and can't improve with his second effort.

Vettel a full 1.023s behind Hamilton. Clearly, Mercedes in another dimension on the soft tyres.

Hamilton improves again, lowering the benchmark to 1:16.588.

Nasr has moved himself up to fourth as attention starts to turn to who will avoid the drop from this session.

Rosberg edges himself into P1 by 0.060s.

Raikkonen slots into fourth behind Vettel, 1.2s down on Hamilton.

This track is going to keep getting quicker so it will be interesting to see what sort of times drivers are comfortable with. A 1:18 flat might be the cut off.

Hulkenberg has hit a wall somewhere but tells Force India he will have no problem returning his car to the pit lane. Looks like he's lost it into the way into Mirabeau and tagged the wall with his rear tyre.

Maldonado has gone into P4 but used the supersofts to do it. Both McLarens on the red-striped tyre now.

Button moves up to seventh with his latest supersoft, a 1:17.761 that one. You'd imagine that will be enough.

The Williams boys in a spot of bother now, down in 16th and 17th and in a bit of traffic as the clock ticks past four minutes remaining.

Perez leaps clear of the drop zone, eight tenths down on Rosberg's benchmark. That time on the supersofts too.

Verstappen uses the supersofts to go fourth - two tenths of Rosberg's soft tyre benchmark. Sainz slots in behind him but is under investigation for not stopping at the FIA weighbridge at the end of the pit lane.

Massa has the supersofts on and goes 11th with a 1:17.907. Williams struggling to get those tyres working.

Bottas can only manage a 1:18.434 and that doesn't get him out of that drop zone. He'll get another lap.

Raikkonen in the pits and currently dropping down the pecking order ... surely he's got enough to stay out of the drop zone.

Bottas has backed off! He's got 15 seconds to get round from the Swimming Pool and start another lap.

Bottas doesn't make it round as the chequered flag comes out - he is out of this session.

Alonso can only improve to 14th!

Stevens jumps ahead of Merhi to out-qualify his team-mate once again. Nasr pits so Alonso is safe - just!

Nasr, Bottas, Ericsson, Stevens and Merhi the men to drop out. Bottas the big, big casualty from that session.

Rain at Rascasse? Watch this space....

Tough day indeed. He'll need something special to get a point.

Some times for you:

Seeing a replay of Hamilton being held up by Grosjean at the final few corners of a lap in Q1. Not sure whether stewards will investigate.

The track is green again and Q2 is up and running.

Traffic will still be an issue in this session, but slightly less so with five cars out of the running.

Supersoft tyres all around now as Vettel sets a 1:18.721, but Perez goes quicker by nearly a second.

Ricciardo goes into P1 with a 1:17.275.

"No grip on these tyres," complains Hamilton. Mercedes tells him he can take another lap on the tyres if he needs it.

Alonso has stopped at Turn 1. No signs of damage.... replays show he just slowed down as he rounded the kerb. Oh dear. He'll start 15th.

Button, meanwhile, jumps into fourth position. That's only eight tenths off Vettel's benchmark.

Verstappen again up there in the upper reaches of the timing screens. He's currently second, albeit seven tenths down on Vettel.

And Verstappen is displaced by Raikkonern, who moves three tenths behind Vettel.

Sainz moves ahead of his team-mate. Rosberg crosses in a 1:15.471.

Hamilton really struggling for grip so far today, he's eight tenths off Rosberg with his first proper lap of Q2.

Ricciardo asking if the cut off is still 1:17.0. If that is the cut off both Toro Rosso rookies will be safe, though they'll certainly be back out there. Will the top four go out again?

Alonso's power unit, for those of you who aren't up to date with your Twitter accounts.

"Let's calm down and reset for this run. That was a really bad run," says Hamilton. Bonnington apologises to him for not getting him into clear air. Is the world champion getting rattled?

The clock ticks past four minutes. Rosberg, Sainz and Button the only men in the pits.

Grosjean goes seventh quickest, before Maldonado jumps into fifth - 1.3s off the pace.

Being the last man to cross the line in this session could be crucial as we see the times continue to fall in this session.

Kvyat moves into P4 with a 1:16.453. Perez can only manage ninth.

On Alonso's issue - seems there was a message about anti-stall on his dashboard. Sounded like the power just cut out on him.

into the final minute and a half. Ricciardom, Button, Massa, Hulkenberg and Alonso currently in the drop zone.

Grosjean on the absolute limit out there but can't improve on his time! He stays tenth and is in real trouble.

Yellow flags at Ste Devote which could affect drivers who have just started a flying lap, like Button. Hulkenberg can't improve on his time despite what looked like a very committed lap.

Hamilton crosses and moves within four tenths of Rosberg.

Seems the yellow flags were caused by Rosberg locking up heavily into Turn 1.

Chequered flag is out.

Perez knocks Grosjean into the drop zone and Button can't improve on 12th! Not the Saturday afternoon McLaren was hoping for at all. They'll line up 12th and 15th tomorrow.

So the drop zone - Grosjean, Button, Hulkenberg, Massa and Alonso. Horrible afternoon for Williams.

McLaren apologises to Button for the yellow flag and he replies "Ohhhhh! That's painful."

Button was just 0.094s off a place in the top ten. The slimmest of margins.

Apparently there are some drops of rain ahead of Q3.

Worth noting Maldonado is in this session. Gets a lot of stick but he's been very good all weekend and now he's finally out-qualified his team-mate.

If it is raining now, the first timed laps could be the all-important pole laps if the rain intensifies and the track gets wetter.

Hamilton will be the first man out on track. He gets the choice of running first this weekend, remember.

The lights go green and Q3 is under way!

Rain is exactly what qualifying needed. Drivers are going to need to push like mad from the off.

Hamilton crosses for the first timed lap of the final qualifying session.

Sainz tells Toro Rosso it's not raining at the moment.

Hamilton backs off at the end of his lap and he'll have another attempt.

Perez sets a 1:17.912 to go P1.

Hamilton has gone purple through the first sector.

Hugely committed lap from Hamilton through Tabac and the Swimming Pool - a mighty, mighty lap puts him P1 with 1:15.304. That's provisional pole for the world champion.

Rosberg crosses 1.136s behind his team-mate.

Vettel crosses third, half a second down on Hamilton.

Verstappen up to fifth! Just over a tenth between him and Sainz.

Ricciardo moves ahead of Kvyat into fourth.

Perez moves up to sixth, so this track is getting quicker and quicker. Good job from the Mexican.

Raikkonen the big surprise so far, he's down in ninth after the banker laps.

Looks unlikely the rain will materialise now after all.

The clock ticks towards four minutes and Ricciardo and Hamilton venture back out on track.

Rosberg doesn't come out immediately and seems to be behind a Toro Rosso.

Raikkonen reported a near-miss with a wall at Turn 8 from his last run, which might explain why he's languishing down in ninth. His woes mean there's a spot on the second row up for grabs.

Perez will not run again as he has no tyres left for qualifying.

Kvyat told to make sure he is weaving and doing everything he can to build temperature in the tyres. Track temp dropping in the closing moments of this session.

Vettel weaving aggressively to get his tyres up to speed.

Here we go then.

Looks like Raikkonen has started a hot lap right on the tail of Verstappen, which won't do his hopes of improving on his lap time much good.

Bad first sector from Rosberg, who says he's pitting at the end of the lap.

Hamilton lowers the benchmark again, this time to a 1:15.098 as the chequered flag falls. That looks good for pole...

Sainz can only improve to eighth with his final lap.

Replays of Rosberg locking up heavily at Turn 1, which would explain why he bailed out of that lap.

Ricciardo and Kvyat split the Ferraris.

That's Hamilton's first pole position at Monaco, remember. Top effort from the world champion when it looked like the momentum was swinging back to his team-mate in the early part of qualifying.

Boost for Red Bull and Renault with Ricciardo on the second row - alongside former team-mate Vettel.

The Toro Rosso drivers can only manage eighth and tenth despite a hugely encouraging weekend up to this point.

That's all we have time for from qualifying - thanks joining and please be sure to come back again for full commentary of the race tomorrow afternoon.