Webber Beats Vettel to Pole in Barcelona


Mark Webber became the first man to beat Sebastian Vettel to pole position in today, beating his Red Bull team-mate by two tenths of a second in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton will start from third, but was nearly a second slower than the pole-sitter. He will start alongside former team-mate Fernando Alonso, who breaks his streak of qualifying fifth – that position was taken by Jenson Button.

Team Lotus had their best dry-weather qualifying with Heikki Kovalainen taking fifteenth on the Barcelona grid.

Rubens Barrichello had a poor day, knocked out of the session in Q1, whilst Nick Heidfeld failed to take part owing to a fire in his Renault during the practice session this morning.

Pirelli have a new prime tyre this weekend that is approximately two seconds a lap slower than the softer option compound. The front-running teams were concerned that they would have to use a set of these precious option tyres in Q1 to ensure that they beat the new teams, who have no qualms about using that tyre in what is the only part of qualifying in which they appear.

The likes of Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes all went out on the hard tyre to begin with. Mark Webber put in a 1:23.938 on the first lap – indicating that he would be fine on the prime tyres – and then bettered that time by three tenths of a second the next time round.

Mercedes and Ferrari felt they had to use the soft tyres for their second run. In hindsight, this was unnecessary – a complete waste in fact – as Nick Heidfeld was unable to take part in the session owing to the fire damage from his small inferno in Free Practice 3 this morning. The Renault man took one of the places in the bottom seven and Rubens Barrichello took another after a gearbox problem. The two Hispania and Virgin drivers and Jarno Trulli were the usual suspects who bowed out of qualifying in this early stage, but all were within the 107% time.

Heikki Kovalainen got his Team Lotus through into Q2, thanks to Heidfeld's misfortune. Michael Schumacher used his lap on option tyres to top the timesheets.

Red Bull sent their drivers out early in Q2 for their first qualifying run on soft tyres, and Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time of the weekend – a 1:21.540 – without even using KERS. Team-mate Mark Webber was a couple of tenths slower on his attempt.

Felipe Massa looked in danger of dropping out during Q2, but just squeezed through in tenth place and Pastor Maldonado impressed by setting the eighth fastest lap to get himself through to the pole position shoot-out.

Sebastien Buemi, Sergio Perez, Jaime Alguersuari and Kamui Kobayashi will line up eleventh to fourteenth and Heikki Kovalainen starts the Spanish Grand Prix from fifteenth, in front of the two Force India cars, who both went out on the harder tyre in Q2.

The McLaren duo were first out in Q3, with world champion Sebastian Vettel hot on their heels. Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Vettel all set sub-1:22.000 times on their first laps before Webber blitz all of them with a 1:20.981 – exactly two tenths faster than his team-mate.

It was thought that Vettel might go out again to try and beat his team-mate and continue his streak of pole positions – but Red Bull elected not to send either car out again.

Only the top four had set a lap time as the checkered flag fell, but then the rest of the runners completed their one and only flying laps. Fernando Alonso split the two McLaren drivers and Michael Schumacher came out of the pits on the prime tyre before coming back into the garage without setting a lap time – allowing him to start tomorrow's race on the harder compound.

Webber will know that Spain is a track where qualifying is essential: the last person to win the Spanish Grand Prix without starting on pole was Mika Hakkinen in 2000.

 

Qualifying Result:

Pos No Driver Team Time Laps
1 2 Australia Mark Webber Austria Red Bull 1:20.981 12 Report
2 1 Germany Sebastian Vettel Austria Red Bull 1:21.181 13 Report
3 3 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton United Kingdom McLaren 1:21.961 12 Report
4 5 Spain Fernando Alonso Italy Ferrari 1:21.964 15 Report
5 4 United Kingdom Jenson Button United Kingdom McLaren 1:21.996 12 Report
6 10 Russian Federation Vitaly Petrov United Kingdom Renault 1:22.471 14
7 8 Germany Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes 1:22.599 14 Report
8 6 Brazil Felipe Massa Italy Ferrari 1:22.888 15 Report
9 12 Venezuela Pastor Maldonado United Kingdom Williams 1:22.952 14 Report
10 7 Germany Michael Schumacher Germany Mercedes No Time 12 Report
11 18 Switzerland Sebastien Buemi Italy Toro Rosso 1:22.671 6 Report
12 17 Mexico Sergio Perez Switzerland Sauber 1:23.231 9 Report
13 19 Spain Jaime Alguersuari Italy Toro Rosso 1:23.367 9 Report
14 16 Japan Kamui Kobayashi Switzerland Sauber 1:23.694 8 Report
15 20 Finland Heikki Kovalainen United Kingdom Team Lotus 1:23.702 6 Report
16 15 United Kingdom Paul di Resta India Force India 1:25.403 13 Report
17 14 Germany Adrian Sutil India Force India 1:26.126 13 Report
18 21 Italy Jarno Trulli United Kingdom Team Lotus 1:26.521 4 Report
19 11 Brazil Rubens Barrichello United Kingdom Williams 1:26.910 5 Report
20 24 Germany Timo Glock United Kingdom Virgin Racing 1:27.315 8
21 23 Italy Vitantonio Liuzzi Spain Hispania Racing 1:27.809 9
22 22 India Narain Karthikeyan Spain Hispania Racing 1:27.908 9
23 25 Belgium Jerome D'Ambrosio United Kingdom Virgin Racing 1:28.556 5
24 9 Germany Nick Heidfeld United Kingdom Renault No Time
107% qualifying time 1:28.767