F1 Valencia Quali Results & Full Report: Vettel on Pole with Webber 2nd, Schumacher Only 15th


What Happens When Red Bull Might Be Back

9:12am EST — Sebastian Vettel brought red Bull back to pole position for the European Grand Prix, with teammate Mark Webber to start next to him on Sunday.  Just behind will be Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, with Felipe Massa rounding out the top five starters.  As Rubens Barrichello predicted, both Williams drivers made it to Q3 and will start eighth and ninth, with Barrichello out-qualifying Nico Hulkenberg.  Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov had great qualifying effort, starting sixth and tenth, respectively, with the Pole just taking sixth from Jenson Button, who will start seventh.  Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg had a bad Saturday, neither making Q3.  Schumacher had a power steering issues that caused him to qualify fifteenth with Rosberg starting twelfth.

It was a mix of drivers and marquees who sat at the top of the timesheets during the three practice sessions, first Nico Rosberg for Mercedes GP, then Fernando Alonso for Ferrari, then Sebastian Vettel for Red Bull.  On a slippery track, it was Mercedes power, then Ferrari and Renault power that went fastest for the first practice sessions of the European Grand Prix at Valencia, with Vettel posting the fastest time of the weekend.  With a green track and cool temperatures, the times dropped dramatically from practice 1 to practice 2.  Nico Rosberg was fastest in the first session, beating the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button while Fernando Alonso was fastest at home in the second, narrowly faster than Sebastian Vettel and his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber.  Vettel took the third session from Robert Kubica as both Red Bull and Renault decided to race Sunday with their versions of the McLaren f-duct, a decision that left the McLaren’s nearer mid-pack that the front.

Q1:
It was the Virgin Racing and Lotus drivers first out in Q1, with Hulkenberg, Petrov, and the other new teams out quickly as well in the first twenty minutes of qualifying.  For Ferrari, the “first run will be on hard tyres” as both drivers entered the circuit.  Five minutes into the session and Hulkenberg led the timesheets, and Alonso slotted into second quickest on his first timed lap.  Massa and Button both displaced Hulkenberg, who was followed by Liuzzi and Alguersuari to make the top five.  Alonso and Hamilton soon posted faster times, becoming the fastest two, respectively, as neither Red Bull had posted a time nine minutes into the session.  Webber went straight to fourth.  Hamilton was faster than Alonso with nine minutes to go, as the top five was Hamilton, Alonso, Rosberg, Button, and Webber, though Alonso traded places with his young rival on the next lap.

In the knockout zone were all of the new teams, plus practice session fast driver Kubica, who hadn’t set a time with seven minutes left.  He immediately went fastest on his timed lap.  Many of the drivers returned to the garage for last-minute changes with five to go in the session, as Kubica still led Vettel, Alonso, Webber, Massa, Hamilton, Rosberg, Button, Liuzzi, and Sutil as the top ten.  As Kubica left the knockout zone, de la Rosa joined the new teams in the knockout zone.  With three mintues left, all of the top ten but Button and Sutil were still in their garages.  The fastest times int this session (Kubica’s 1:38.132) were marginally slower than those in the morning practice session, though the fastest times of qualifying would be set in Q2.  Button moved up to third fastest and Barrichello solidified his claims of Williams resurgence this weekend by posting the sixth fastest time.  de la Rosa moved into eleventh, dropping Schumacher into the knockout zone with the new teams, with just enough time for one more lap.  As Schumacher is told of a possible power steering issue, former teammate Barrichello was fourth fastest at the end of the session (Williams teammate Hulkenberg in tenth).  Schumacher managed twelfth, as the top ten were Kubica, Vettel, Button, Barrichello, Alonso, Webber, Massa, Hamilton, Rosberg, and Hulkenberg.

Knocked Out at the End of Q1:
18. Kobayashi 1:39.343
19. Trulli 1:40.658
20. Kovalainen 1:40.882
21. di Grassi 1:42.086
22. Glock 1:42.140
23. Chandhok 1:42.600
24. Senna 1:42.851

Q2:

It was a mad dash to the circuit for the cars in Valencia for Q2, with Massa setting the first time, then Alonso, then Hamilton posting the fastest time.  Ten minutes left and Webber, Hamilton, Alonso, Petrov, and Barrichello were the fastest five.  Alonso took second fastest from Hamilton, but the real place to wast was the knockout zone, populated by Sutil, Liuzzi, de la Rosa, Alguersuari, Schumacher, Rosberg, and Kubica with eight minutes left in Q2.  Meanwhle, Vettel posted the fastest lap, then Kubica moved into third on hard tires.  Alonso had a moment, losing the rear over some kerbing, but he kept the car moving forward.

Five minutes to go and Buemi, Rosberg, Sutil, Liuzzi, Schumacher, de la Rosa, and Alguersuari were in the knockout zone with Vettel, Webber, Kubica, Alonso, and Hamilton the top five.  Barrichello and Hulkenberg were in eighth and ninth with the hope of getting into Q3.  Two minutes left and all seventeen men were on the circuit.  The top order did not change much as both Mercedes GP cars were in danger of being knocked out, even after Rosberg’s quick practice pace, which only goes to illustrate that the standings after practice don’t indicate what might happen in quali and the race.  Both Ferraris were on soft tires as the final laps were begun.  Neither Mercedes were knocked out as the fastest five in the session were Vettel, Webber, Massa, Kubica, and Hamilton.  Both Williams drivers made it to Q3.

Knocked Out at the End of Q2:
11. Buemi 1:38.586
12. Rosberg 1:38.627
13. Sutil 1:38.851
14. Liuzzi 1:38.884
15. Schumacher 1:39.234
16. de la Rosa 1:39.264
17. Alguersuari 1:39.458

Q3:
Petrov and Button were waiting for the light to turn green so they could immediately begin setting their Q3 times.  Everyone but the Williams drivers were out within the first minute of the ten minute session.  Button was the fastest early lap, but was soon enough overtaken by Vettel, Hamilton, and Webber.  Halfway through the session and only five minutes left and the order was Webber, Hamilton, Vettel, Button, Massa, Alonso, Petrov, Kubica, Hulkenberg, and Barrichello.

Many of the drivers went into the garages for last minutes changes (and maybe a bit of fuel, with the recent closure of that Hamilton loophole).  Hulkenberg moved up to fifth with a clearer track.  The leaders began heading back out with less than three minutes left to fight for pole.  Alonso started off with a session best sector one, with Massa matching his time.  Most of the drivers looked to be able to start a second lap before the flag dropped.  Alonso moved up to fourth as Massa stayed in seventh with that first lap.  Vettel was the first across the line with a final time, a time that gave him pole.  Hulkenberg and Barrichello moved up to seventh and eighth as Hamilton aborted his final lap, though they would be dropped a position each.  Webber kept second and Kubica took sixth from Button, but Vettel’s time could not be beaten.

Provisional Starting Positions for the European Grand Prix:
1. Vettel 1:37.587
2. Webber 1:37.662
3. Hamilton 1:37.969
4. Alonso 1:38.075
5. Massa 1:38.127
6. Kubica 1:38.137
7. Button 1:38.210
8. Hulkenberg 1:38.428
9. Barrichello 1:38.428
10. Petrov 1:38.523

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