Vettel gets pole in European GP
Sebastian Vettel came to the fore in a thrilling qualifying session at Valencia this afternoon as the German returned to the very front of the grid to take his fourth pole position of the season and his first since April. Team-mate Mark Webber made it Red Bull’s fourth front row lock-out of the year, while mistakes by both McLaren drivers cost them the chance of challenging their rivals.
After the first round of runs, it was Webber who had set the fastest time on a 1m37.852s, over a tenth clear of Hamilton and Vettel. But once the serious work was to be done, Vettel just got the edge. The German was the first front-runner to set his grid time (1m37.587s), with Webber following soon after with his 1m37.662s, just three quarters of a tenth shy of his team-mate. Lewis Hamilton (1m37.969s) took third despite having to abort his final lap after a mistake, while home hero Fernando Alonso (1m38.075s) only managed fourth.
Felipe Massa made it two Ferraris in the top five thanks to his time of 1m38.127s, fractionally ahead Renault’s Robert Kubica (1m38.137s) who slumped to sixth after leading Q1. He was followed by Jenson Button (1m38.210s) who made a mistake at the final corner on his last lap. There was literally nothing to choose between Williams’s Nico Hülkenberg and Rubens Barrichello as they both set identical times of 1m38.428s, with Vitaly Petrov (1m38.523s) rounding out the top ten.
The major surprise from Q2 was the failure for both Mercedes GP cars to progress, while Force India also fell by the wayside to allow both Renault and Williams cars qualify inside the top ten. Toro Rosso’s Sébastien Buemi came closest to progressing on a time of 1m38.586s, but fell short by just three hundredths.
Nico Rosberg was the best of the Mercedes pair, taking 12th on a 1m38.627s ahead of the closely-matched Force Indias of Adrian Sutil (1m38.851s) and Vitantonio Liuzzi (1m38.884s) despite performing strongly in practice. Schumacher (1m39.234s) was only 15th in the second Mercedes ahead of BMW Sauber’s Pedro de la Rosa (1m39.264s) and Jaime Alguersuari (1m39.458s).
Schumacher very nearly didn’t make it as far as Q2 after surviving a scare at the end of Q1. He was suffering from suspected power steering problems and had to rely on a last-ditch effort to ensure his Q2 berth, jumping from 18th to 12th.
In the end it was business as usual at the end of the 20-minute session, with BMW Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi joining the six new-team drivers in the bottom seven. The Japanese driver clocked a time of 1m39.343s for 18th, with Lotus’s Jarno Trulli claiming victory among the new teams with 19th place on the grid. The Italian set a time of 1m40.658s, over two tenths quicker than team-mate Heikki Kovalainen (1m40.882s).
Behind the Lotuses, Virgin’s Lucas Di Grassi outqualified his team-mate for the first time in his career thanks to a time of 1m42.086s, with Timo Glock lapping just five hundredths slower on a 1m42.140s. In the HRT garage, Karun Chandhok got the upperhand on 1m42.600s, a quarter of a second clear of team-mate Bruno Senna.
Here are the full results;
|12||4||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP||1:38.752||1:38.627||12|
|13||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:39.021||1:38.851||14|
|14||15||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India-Mercedes||1:38.969||1:38.884||15|
|15||3||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP||1:38.994||1:39.234||19|
|16||22||Pedro de la Rosa||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||1:39.003||1:39.264||16|
|18||23||Kamui Kobayashi||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||1:39.343||9|
|21||25||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin-Cosworth||1:42.086||11|