Following a terrible race in Canada just two weeks ago, Sebastian Vettel and his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber proved that one bad race weekend can be a fluke, as Vettel posted a best lap of 1:37:857 to head another perfect 1-2 team qualifying ...
Following a terrible race in Canada just two weeks ago, Sebastian Vettel and his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber proved that one bad race weekend can be a fluke, as Vettel posted a best lap of 1:37:857 to head another perfect 1-2 team qualifying session. Lewis Hamilton, who was in the hunt for pole as well, spun his McLaren at turn 12, in the final session, but managed to place third for the European Grand Prix Formula One race on the street circuit in Valencia, Spain.
"Obviously, in the last couple of races, we did not have a smooth run," commented pole sitter Vettel. "The last two races were not our strongest, it was a tight qualifying session, and not much was different between the top teams. I think it was a tough one here, because we introduced the f duct and we did other things to the car."
Robert Kubica set the pace in the first session in his Renault, clocking a 1:38:132 that gave the Polish driver his first best qualifying segment time of the season. The drivers from Virgin, Lotus, HRT teams plus Kamui Kobayashi of the Sauber team, failed to advance to the next session.
Vettel began to pick up the pace in the next session by posting an even faster time then Kubica, clocking in at a 1:38:015. But while one German was doing well, another one was having difficulties. Michael Schumacher, who had a 13th qualifying finish in Canada, was again struggling with his tires, this time in the Spanish port city, and just managed to get into the second session, taking 15th on the grid with his performance. Both he and his teammate Nico Rosberg, were the big surprise of the day, both failing to advance to the final session. Rosberg will start 12th for Sunday's race.
"Basically, there were two factors," Schumacher said. "One was that we had a general issue with the tyres just not working, as in Canada and on top of this, I had a so-called difficulty with the brakes. I was locking up the front right permanently and the car seemed to be unloaded at the front right corner. I don't understand why that happened. It's something we need to get on top of, because it made it extra difficult when we already had a barrier to climb over. I'm sure there's some disappointment, naturally," said Schumacher. "We are fighters. We know the business long enough that you have those up and downs, you have those moments that for whatever reason you don't understand things."
Webber held the best time in the final session, before Vettel set the best time of the weekend. But the 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton, was setting an even better time before he locked up his wheels approaching turn 12, and lost any chance to take his second pole in a row. But the Englishman was determined to continue on, and this was rewarded with a third place finish, putting him on the inside of the second row on race day Sunday.
"I am really happy to be here, I feel so fortunate this weekend," said Hamilton. "We knew everyone else would be bringing updates and we saw from practice we were quite some way behind, so I was a little bit cautious [in expectations], pushed to the limit, and didn't realise we would be so far up." On the second lap I was up in the second sector but locked up rears in Turn 12 and did it later in the lap. I thought for sure I was going to drop back but was surprised when I came back and was third."
The two Ferraris of home hero Fernando Alonso and his teammate, Felipe Massa had a lackluster day, qualifying in fourth and fifth, respectively, while Kubica had a final last run to get him up the grid into sixth. Jenson Button could do not better in seventh, while the two Williams cars had their best qualifying run all season, with Nico Hulkenberg and Rubens Barrichello taking eighth and ninth spots. Vitaly Petrov took tenth in the best qualifying performance for the Russian in his Renault.