Vettel Takes Straightforward Pole in Valencia As Red Bull Hog Front Row Again


Sebastian Vettel took another easy pole position in Valencia and will start tomorrow’s European Grand Prix alongside Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber.

Lewis Hamilton lines up ahead of former McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso on the second row and Felipe Massa and Jenson Button start fifth and sixth.

It will be an all-Mercedes fourth row as Nico Rosberg out-qualified Michael Schumacher for the seventh time this season whilst Nick Heidfeld and Adrian Sutil make up the fifth row.

The session was briefly stopped during Q2 as Pastor Maldonado stopped out on track with a mechanical problem.

Felipe Massa set the early pace as qualifying got underway, topping the timesheets in Q1. However, he had to use a set of the valuable soft tyres to get to this lofty position. Sebastian Vettel was second fastest, but he only used the slower medium tyres to do that, and clearly could have beaten Massa's time if needed.

Jaime Alguersuari failed to get of Q1 for the third consecutive race after he could only manage eighteenth in this opening stage. The usual suspects follow behind him on the Valencia grid: the two Team Lotus drivers were ahead of Virgin Racing and Hispania, and Tonio Liuzzi out-qualified Jerome D'Ambrosio once again.

Vettel raced to the top of the timesheets at the start of Q2 and stayed there throughout. Pastor Maldonado then caused a brief break in the proceedings as he stopped right in the middle of the track with a mechanical problem. The marshals were unable to push the stricken Williams off the circuit, and the red flags had to come out.

The session resumed with eight minutes of Q2 remaining and the battle for a place in the pole-position shoot-out got back underway. The winner was Adrian Sutil, who snuck through in tenth place just as the chequered flag was falling, knocking Vitaly Petrov out of qualifying. Paul di Resta had an untidy flying lap at the end of Q2, and he had to settle for P12. Rubens Barrichello, Kamui Kobayashi, Maldonado, Sergio Perez and Sebastien Buemi also dropped out.

Home favourite Fernando Alonso was first out on track for Q3 to the roars of the appreciative Spanish crowd. His first time of 1:37.454 was good enough to beat the first attempts of Webber, Button and Massa, but not Hamilton, who recorded a 1:37.380 before Vettel blitz the entire field. A lap of 1:36.975 was his first effort.

The top six all came out again for a second flying lap. Webber's attempt put him up to second, ahead of Hamilton. Hamilton and Alonso abandoned their laps, instead settling for third and fourth and Vettel had no need to finish his lap either, and easily took his seventh pole position of 2011.

European Grand Prix 2011: Provisional Qualifying Result

Pos No Driver Team Time Laps
1 1 Germany Sebastian Vettel Austria Red Bull 1:36.975 15 Report
2 2 Australia Mark Webber Austria Red Bull 1:37.163 19 Report
3 3 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton United Kingdom McLaren 1:37.380 13
4 5 Spain Fernando Alonso Italy Ferrari 1:37.454 20 Report
5 6 Brazil Felipe Massa Italy Ferrari 1:37.535 20 Report
6 4 United Kingdom Jenson Button United Kingdom McLaren 1:37.645 14
7 8 Germany Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes 1:38.231 15 Report
8 7 Germany Michael Schumacher Germany Mercedes 1:38.240 18 Report
9 9 Germany Nick Heidfeld United Kingdom Renault No time 17
10 14 Germany Adrian Sutil India Force India No time 14 Report
11 10 Russian Federation Vitaly Petrov United Kingdom Renault 1:39.068 14
12 15 United Kingdom Paul di Resta India Force India 1:39.422 16 Report
13 11 Brazil Rubens Barrichello United Kingdom Williams 1:39.489 19 Report
14 16 Japan Kamui Kobayashi Switzerland Sauber 1:39.525 17 Report
15 12 Venezuela Pastor Maldonado United Kingdom Williams 1:39.645 10 Report
16 17 Mexico Sergio Perez Switzerland Sauber 1:39.657 13 Report
17 18 Switzerland Sebastien Buemi Italy Toro Rosso 1:39.711 8 Report
18 19 Spain Jaime Alguersuari Italy Toro Rosso 1:40.232 5 Report
19 20 Finland Heikki Kovalainen United Kingdom Team Lotus 1:41.664 10 Report
20 21 Italy Jarno Trulli United Kingdom Team Lotus 1:42.234 9 Report
21 24 Germany Timo Glock United Kingdom Virgin Racing 1:42.553 9
22 23 Italy Vitantonio Liuzzi Spain Hispania Racing 1:43.584 10 Report
23 25 Belgium Jerome D'Ambrosio United Kingdom Virgin Racing 1:43.735 6
24 22 India Narain Karthikeyan Spain Hispania Racing 1:44.363 9 Report
107% qualifying time 1:45.301