European Grand Prix 2011: Vettel claims another pole

World champion storms to his seventh pole of 2011 at the European Grand Prix in Valencia

sebastian vettel
Vettel took his seventh pole in eight races Photo: Getty Images, courtesy of Red Bull Racing.

sebastian vettel

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel clinched his seventh pole of the season with a new lap record ahead of Sunday’s European Grand Prix in Valencia.

Red Bull were expected to be slowed down by a ban on engine mapping tweaks between qualifying and the race, but Vettel’s 22nd career pole extends his team’s qualifying dominance back to the end of last season.

“There was a lot of talk going into this GP about the regulation changes and there will be a lot of talk before the next one,” Vettel said.

“I think everyone will lose out on something, but people expect us to lose more than other teams and that is where I disagree.

“Overall it was a very good day for us; it’s good to have the front row for our team, but it will be a long race tomorrow. It’s always tough here.”

Vettel’s team-mate Mark Webber locked out the front row after a late run to secure second ahead of McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, who abandoned his final run after making a mistake while pushing his car to the limit.

Hamilton said: “I’m excited to be in the fight: we can win from this position. Of course, we’ll need a bit of luck with the strategy and the pit stops, but our guys are on great form.

“You’ve got to be fortunate and maximise absolutely everything to get ahead of the Red Bulls and, hopefully, that can happen tomorrow.”

Fernando Alonso was fourth ahead of Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa, with Jenson Button -winner of the last race in Canada -in sixth, almost seven tenths slower than Vettel.

Mercedes duo Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher start on the fourth row of the grid, ahead of Renault’s Nick Heidfeld and Force India’s Adrian Sutil, who rounded out the top ten.

“The car has been working pretty well all weekend and I felt that we had a good chance to make it through to Q3 today,” Sutil said after qualifying.

“But I knew that we would have to get the lap just right. That’s why this result feels great because I got the maximum from the car. We didn’t go out in Q3 because we felt it was better to save another set of soft tyres for the race.”

Q2 was briefly red flagged after Williams rookie Pastor Maldonado stopped in the middle of the track after an apparent engine problem, but there were no surprise victims with the main players already comfortable with their banker laps from the start of the session.

Starting grid for the 2011 European Grand Prix in Valencia

1 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)

2 Mark Webber (Red Bull)

3 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)

4 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)

5 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)

6 Jenson Button (McLaren)

7 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)

8 Michael Schumacher (Mercedes)

9 Nick Heidfeld (Renault)

10 Adrian Sutil (Force India)

11 Vitaly Petrov (Renault)

12 Paul Di Resta (Force India)

13 Rubens Barrichello (Williams)

14 Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber)

15 Pastor Maldonado (Williams)

16 Sergio Perez (Sauber)

17 Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso)

18 Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso)

19 Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus)

20 Jarno Trulli (Lotus)

21 Timo Glock (Virgin)

22 Vitantonio Liuzzi (HRT)

23 Jerôme d’Ambrosio (Virgin)

24 Narain Karthikeyan (HRT)

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