Vettel takes Silverstone pole as Red Bull dominate


Sebastian Vettel will start tomorrow's British Grand Prix from pole position tomorrow after a dominant qualifying performance from Red Bull.

Mark Webber will start alongside his teammate on the front row of the grid, with Fernando Alonso in third.

It was a tough day for the British drivers in their home qualifying session. Lewis Hamilton couldn't qualify any higher than fourth, and Jenson Button failed to make it out of Q2. The world champion will start the race in fourteenth.

Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica occupy the third row of the grid. Felipe Massa, Rubens Barrichello, Pedro de la Rosa and Michael Schumacher make up the rest of the top ten.

After Red Bull topped all three practice sessions in the run up to qualifying, and McLaren struggled with the blown rear-diffuser that they failed to get working properly on Friday, British hopes of a pole position looked slim from the start. Hamilton was seventh in the final practice session this morning, with Button down in twelfth.

Before the matter of pole position was sorted however, focus turned briefly to the back of the grid for Q1. One driver from the established teams would fail to make it through to Q2, going out of qualifying with the Lotus, Virgin, and Hispania pairings.

Sakon Yamamoto was making his qualifying debut for Hispania, replacing Bruno Senna for this race only. The Japanese driver, who celebrated his 28th birthday yesterday, will start right at the back of the grid in tomorrow's race, although he did just creep inside the 107% time before the end of the session – not that this rule applies yet though. Teammate Karun Chandhok will start just ahead of Yamamoto in P23.

Jaime Alguersuari was that driver from an established team who again went out in Q1. Behind him the order was Heikki Kovalainen, Timo Glock, Jarno Trulli, and Lucas di Grassi and then the two Hispanias.

Red Bull signalled their intentions early on with Vettel leading Webber in a Q1 1-2. Alonso was third fastest at this early stage, with Sutil fourth and Hamilton fifth. Jenson Button was down in eighth.

The Red Bull dominance continued into Q2. This time it was Webber leading his younger teammate. Hamilton was down in seventh, but the surprise omission from the top ten shoot-out was Jenson Button, who couldn't do better than P14. The current world champion has never even been on the podium at his home race, and on this form 2010 will not improve this poor record here at Silverstone.

Michael Schumacher looked like a potential big name casualty in Q2 when he finished Q1 down in fifteenth. However, he found some more speed and finished Q2 fifth fastest, just ahead of teammate Rosberg. Pedro de la Rosa took an impressive ninth place in Q2 to merit his surprise inclusion in the top-ten shoot-out.

Adrian Sutil, Kamui Kobayashi, Nico Hulkenberg, Tonio Liuzzi, Vitaly Petrov and Sebastien Buemi all joined Button in bowing out from qualifying at the Q2 stage.

In Q3 Webber set the marker with the first sub-1:30.000 time of the weekend, before Vettel beat it with a 1:29.695. With five minutes left of the session still, the duo dived back into the pits for a fresh set of tyres.

Schumacher, Kubica and de la Rosa sat in the pits for much of the session, preferring to save their tyres for a single run. With four minutes remaining, Schumacher emerged from the Mercedes garage, and Kubica followed. Both drivers set a lap over 1:34 on their initial attempt, but had time for a second flying lap, and they both got their Q3 lap times into the 1:31s.

Webber was first to mount his second attempt at pole position, with Vettel following him on the track. The Aussie's attempt was not quick enough to dislodge his teammate from the top spot, and just to rub it in, Vettel then went on to set a lap time eight hundredths of a second faster than his original attempt, claiming pole position with ease.