Vettel Takes Third Consecutive European GP Pole
by Mark Gero
VALENCIA, Spain- It took a while for World Champion Sebastian Vettel to come out for the final session in Saturday qualifying for the Grand Prix of Europe, but when he did, it was only one lap good enough to take pole with the fastest time of 1:38:086, tying the third all-time pole record, held by Jim Clark and Alain Prost at 33. Lewis Hamilton put a final effort as well to take second, while Pastor Maldanado, who does very well on Spanish tracks, finished third.
"We had one good shot for a pole lap, and I was very happy". He said. "But to be honest, Q 1 and Q 2 we were struggling and it was not to our liking. It was a good qualifying and it was a good lap to look at pole, and it was a surprising gap. I am looking forward to the race tomorrow."
Young drivers Maldonado and Romain Grosjean took the opening two sessions of qualifying as the hot street circuit began to give the drivers excellent grip. The Venezuelan took the opening session with a 1:38:825 with the Frenchman following up with a last second attempt at 1:38:489. But as the surprise of the young drivers were making news, so was the stunning results of some top pilots.
Mark Webber exited the opening session, finishing a disappointing 19 th , the results of the inability of not being able to use his DRS system, due to hydraulic failure. It was the worst qualifying performance for the Australian since 2009 in Japan. For Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, the second session saw the duo finish 11 th and 13 th , respectively, knocking both of them out of the final session, making even Ferrari president Luca Montemozolo, who was watching the event, shake his head.
The Lotus pair of Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen finished in fourth and fifth, respectively, while Nico Rosberg in his Mercedes took sixth. Seventh was Sauber's Kamui Kobyaschi, Nico Hulkenberg, Jenson Button and Paul Di Resta rounded out the top ten.
It was the third straight pole for Vettel at this venue, but the German was not making too many predictions.
"I think it is going to be a difficult race." Predicted Vettel. "It will be hard to predict, and it is going to be hot. We will have to look at other cars, and grid positions are important, but sometimes not that important."