European Grand Prix 2012: Vettel holds off Hamilton to take pole
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel clinches pole for Sunday's European Grand Prix from McLaren's Lewis Hamilton
Sebastian Vettel will start on pole for Sunday’s European Grand Prix after the Red Bull driver edged out the competition on his only flying lap in Q3 in Valencia.
The defending world champion’s lap in the final session proved to be sufficient to take top spot as he qualified in one minute 38.086, beating Lewis Hamilton by just 0.324 seconds – the British racer currently leads the drivers’ championship on 88 points.
Pastor Maldonado will start from third on the grid as he qualified 0.065 slower than Hamilton, while Frenchman Romain Grosjean begins alongside the Williams driver in fourth position.
“I think this year grid position is important but maybe not as important,” said Vettel.
“Q1 and Q2 were not really to our liking as we were struggling to find the balance that we had early on this weekend, yesterday and this morning. We made a good recovery. We had to put the second set of options on in Q2 but this was the right call because it was very tight.
“It’s going to be a difficult race. We’ve seen too much this year to sit here on Saturday afternoon and predict what’s going to happen so I think it’s probably easier to guess the result of the football tonight. It’s going to be tough and hot tomorrow and there will be a lot of cars to look out for.
“I felt very well this weekend, the boys have been working incredibly hard in the garage and all the people in the factory have brought a couple of new parts to the car. They seem to work and obviously I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow.”
Vettel’s Red Bull team-mate, Mark Webber, will start from 19th after the team struggled to repair his car after a brake problem in Practice 3 on Saturday morning.
Home favourite Fernando Alonso will have a fight on his hands to gain points from the race – the Ferrari man is currently second in the drivers’ championship, two points behind Hamilton.
A series of lock-ups put Alonso into 11th place, and despite the presence of Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo, it was a difficult day for the team. Felipe Massa also struggled and he will start on the row behind his team-mate in 13th position.
German Timo Glock did not take part in qualifying as he was out with a stomach complaint. It’s uncertain whether the Marussia driver will start in the race and the team will issue a statement on Sunday morning.
European Grand Prix 2012: Starting grid
1 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1 min 38.086 secs
2 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) McLaren 1:38.410
3 Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams 1:38.475
4 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Lotus F1 Team 1:38.505
5 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Lotus F1 Team 1:38.513
6 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:38.623
7 Kamui Kobayashi (Jpn) Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.741
8 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Force India 1:38.752
9 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren 1:38.80s
10 Paul di Resta (Gbr) Force India 1:38.992
11 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari 1:38.707
12 Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:38.770
13 Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari 1:38.780
14 Bruno Senna (Bra) Williams 1:39.207
15 Sergio Perez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari 1:39.358
16 Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) Caterham 1:40.295
17 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:40.358
18 Jean-Eric Vergne (Fra) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:40.203
19 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1:40.395
20 Vitaly Petrov (Rus) Caterham 1:40.457
21 Pedro de la Rosa (Spa) HRT-F1 1:42.171
22 Narain Karthikeyan (Ind) HRT-F1 1:42.527
23 Charles Pic (Fra) Marussia 1:42.675
24 Timo Glock (Ger) Marussia (No time)