• European Grand Prix

Vettel secures pole in Valencian heat

ESPNF1 Staff
June 25, 2011

Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the European Grand Prix with a blistering lap in Valencia.

Vettel was the only man to be able to break the 1m37s barrier, with his lap of 1:36.975 giving him his seventh pole position in eight races. His team-mate Mark Webber took second ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, as Red Bull dispelled any lingering doubts that the engine mapping ban would end its qualifying dominance.

On the first runs in Q3, Vettel was supreme, putting in a lap 0.4s quicker than Hamilton as 0.3s separated the next four drivers. All of the top eight went for a second run as the track rubbered in, but only Webber could improve as he jumped up to second above Hamilton and Alonso, while Felipe Massa took fifth ahead of Jenson Button.

Vettel was on an even quicker lap once again, but he returned to the pits after Alonso also aborted his lap meaning pole was secured. 0.7s separated the top six, but there was a gap to the Mercedes pair as Nico Rosberg outqualified Michael Schumacher by just 0.009s, while Nick Heidfeld and Adrian Sutil decided to save tyres and didn't set a time in the final session.

The second session was red flagged after Pastor Maldonado stopped with a mechanical problem between turns 19 and 20 and was unable to be moved, with a tractor required to come on to the track to remove the stricken Williams.

When it got restarted, the session ended with a scrap between Renault and Force India for the final places in Q3, and after Heidfeld leapfrogged his team-mate in to ninth place, Sutil pipped Vitaly Petrov to tenth right at the death by 0.034s. Paul di Resta starts 12th after limited running this weekend, but was outqualified by his team-mate for only the second time this season.

The big difference between the tyre compounds made for a busy end to Q1, with Massa feeling the need to go out on soft tyres. Maldonado, Sergio Perez, Sebastian Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari left it late to do their runs, and after Webber flirted with the drop zone it was Alguersuari who dropped out for the third session in a row alongside Lotus, Virgin and HRT.