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
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:36.975||15||Report|
|2||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull||1:37.163||19||Report|
|9||9||Nick Heidfeld||Renault||No time||17|
|10||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India||No time||14||Report|
|12||15||Paul di Resta||Force India||1:39.422||16||Report|
|17||18||Sebastien Buemi||Toro Rosso||1:39.711||8||Report|
|18||19||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso||1:40.232||5||Report|
|19||20||Heikki Kovalainen||Team Lotus||1:41.664||10||Report|
|20||21||Jarno Trulli||Team Lotus||1:42.234||9||Report|
|21||24||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing||1:42.553||9|
|22||23||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Hispania Racing||1:43.584||10||Report|
|23||25||Jerome D'Ambrosio||Virgin Racing||1:43.735||6|
|24||22||Narain Karthikeyan||Hispania Racing||1:44.363||9||Report|
|107% qualifying time||1:45.301|