Vettel leads a Red Bull front row at Silverstone

Vettel leads a Red Bull front row at Silverstone

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber dominated yet another qualifying session for Red Bull-Renault today, taking the ninth pole position of the season for the team at Silverstone Circuit. The duo took the front row for tomorrow's British Grand Prix in...

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber dominated yet another qualifying session for Red Bull-Renault today, taking the ninth pole position of the season for the team at Silverstone Circuit. The duo took the front row for tomorrow's British Grand Prix in dominant fashion, setting the only lap times in the 1:29s.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing.
Photo by xpb.cc.

"Silverstone is unbelievable," said Vettel. "The corner combinations, I can only say it again and again, they're so much fun -- especially in qualifying. Our car obviously works very well in these sorts of corners, it's so great, the speeds we reach here -- I think we're all a bit crazy, but it's so much fun."

Vettel edged his teammate by 0.163 seconds, 1:29.615 to 1:29.758, the Australian unable to clinch the pole on his final hot lap, as the chequered flag came out.

Webber's car wasn't identical to his teammate's though, as Vettel had a new-spec front wing. The team had only been able to build two wings prior to this weekend, and once Vettel's wing came loose in today's morning practice, there was only one left.

With Vettel ahead of his teammate in the World Championship fight, he was given the remaining new wing for qualifying and tomorrow's race.

"Seb and I ran different spec front wings here for qualifying, but we're still evaluating which is the best to have," Webber said. "I don't think there's a huge amount in them."

Whether the wing is worth more or less than that 0.163 seconds is anyone's guess, though: in morning practice, where both ran with the new wing, the two were separated by only three hundredths of a second.

But behind the Red Bull duo there was much empty air before the next challenger. Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who took third on the grid with a time of 1:30.426, over eight tenths off Vettel's pace. The Ferraris had looked to be close in the morning practice, but when the time came for qualifying, their pace was no match for the Red Bull drivers.

"On my final run, I had traffic in sector three -- I think it might have been Michael (Schumacher)," Alonso recounted. "But even with a clear track ahead of me, I definitely would not have improved my grid position. Up until now, the weekend has gone well but now we must tackle the part that counts, the race: we must try and finish on the podium, because we need to score a lot of points."

His teammate, Felipe Massa, set the fourth-fastest time in the second qualifying segment, promising a Ferrari red second row, but in the final segment, the Brazilian was unable to extract full performance from his new set of tires. His time of 1:31.680 was seven tenths slower than Alonso's, and a stunning two seconds off Vettel's pace.

Fernando Alonso, Scuderia Ferrari.
Photo by xpb.cc.

"We start behind what looks like the untouchable Red Bulls," admitted Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali, but continued hopefully, "several times this year we have seen our car prove to be more competitive in the race than in qualifying."

Lewis Hamilton put in a strong qualifying performance after McLaren removed the cars' new-to-Silverstone "blown diffuser" overnight, going back to the original configuration albeit with the updated front wing.

"Fourth position makes me happy like you wouldn't believe!" said the 2008 World Champion. "The new parts are an improvement, but we just weren't able to get them all to work properly yesterday. And while that meant we had to take most of them off last night, the team still did a remarkable job to get us ready for qualifying this afternoon."

Teammate Jenson Button failed to make it to the final qualifying segment, though, and will start 14th. The defending World Champion was mystified why he couldn't get his car to work in the second segment, though: after being 0.138 seconds slower than Hamilton in the first segment, he couldn't match that pace in the second, and finished 0.581 seconds behind his teammate, and 0.355 behind the 10th-place runner, Robert Kubica.

"I don't yet know if there's an issue, but the car felt very strange," Button mused. "I had to take enormous amounts of front wing out, and I don't know why. We had a similar problem finding a good balance on Friday."

Nico Rosberg took a satisfying fifth place for Mercedes, after failing to make Q3 in Valencia and starting 12th. Less than two tenths separate Alonso and Rosberg, a strong comeback for the young German and the Stuttgart manufacturer after the disappointment two weeks ago.

"I'm really pleased with fifth place today," Rosberg said. "It shows good progress after being so far back in Valencia at the last race. This is a positive step and important for us to know that we really understood what the problems were and how efficiently we have been able to turn the situation around."

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes GP.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Rosberg once again out-qualified his famed teammate, seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher. The latter drove a strong lap in Q2, clocking a fifth-best time behind the two Red Bulls and two Ferraris, but could not put together a good lap in the final segment. 1:31.430 was only good for tenth place.

Kubica will start his Renault sixth, ahead of the second Ferrari of Felipe Massa. Rubens Barrichello (Williams-Cosworth), Pedro de la Rosa (Sauber-Ferrari) and Schumacher will complete the top ten on the grid.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Pedro de la Rosa , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Mark Webber , Fernando Alonso , Lewis Hamilton , Felipe Massa , Nico Rosberg , Robert Kubica , Sebastian Vettel
Teams Ferrari , Red Bull Racing , Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Williams