Despite briefly surrendering the mantle of qualifying kings in Canada, Red Bull has taken back the crown as quickly as the next round, with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber locking out the front row for the European Grand Prix, despite its predictions that it would struggle on the harbourfront circuit.
It was Vettel’s first pole position since the Chinese Grand Prix, with the German managing to overtake Mark Webber’s provisional time with a final run that overtook his Australian team-mate. One last attempt by Webber to take back top spot ended with a lap just 0.075 seconds slower.
Lewis Hamilton will start from third place in his McLaren, with home favourite Fernando Alonso just behind in fourth place. He will start ahead of Felipe Massa, who lines up two places in front of McLaren’s Jenson Button.
Qualifying was probably the most closely fought affair we have seen this season, with the spread through the field particularly compressed in spite of the circuit’s length and number of corners. For instance, the Q2 gap between first (Vettel) and fourteenth (Liuzzi) was just eight-tenths of a second.
Both Williams and Renault have had impressive weekends to-date, and managed to get both of their cars into the final stage of qualifying. Robert Kubica will start from sixth place and team-mate Vitaly Petrov will line up 10th. Both Williams drivers set identical times, but it will be Nico Hülkenberg who starts ahead of his Brazilian team-mate Rubens Barrichello, with eighth and ninth as their grid slots.
Two teams lost out by dint of Renault and Williams’ efforts: Mercedes GP and Force India. Incredibly, the Silver Arrows’ qualifying result went worse than Canada, with Nico Rosberg lining up a woeful 12th and Michael Schumacher down in 15th, having only just scraped into Q2.
For Force India, Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi will share the seventh row of the grid.
By contrast, Toro Rosso oh-so-nearly scraped into Q3 with Sébastien Buemi coming within 0.034 seconds of grabbing a berth in Q3.
Despite sporting a host of new updates to improve the C29’s stability and handling, Sauber had a disappointing qualifying result, with Pedro de la Rosa scrambling into Q2, but team-mate Kamui Kobayashi knocked out in Q1.
Lotus continued its dominance of the rookie team standings in qualifying, with the gap to the trailing Virgin and HRT quartet now up to over a second once again. Jarno Trulli’s receipt of the latest T127 chassis seems to have done the trick, with the Italian outqualifying team-mate Heikki Kovalainen. Lucas di Grassi finally managed to out-qualify team-mate Timo Glock for the first time all season, meaning the Vitaly Petrov is now the sole driver on the grid to have a zero against his name on the intra-team qualifying battle in 2010.
2010 European GP Qualifying Times:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing||1:38.324||1:38.015||1:37.587|
|2.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing||1:38.549||1:38.041||1:37.662|
|11.||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso||1:39.096||1:38.586|
|12.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP||1:38.752||1:38.627|
|13.||Adrian Sutil||Force India||1:39.021||1:38.851|
|14.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India||1:38.969||1:38.884|
|15.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP||1:38.994||1:39.234|
|16.||Pedro de la Rosa||Sauber||1:39.003||1:39.264|
|17.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso||1:39.128||1:39.458|
|21.||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin Racing||1:42.086|
|22.||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing||1:42.140|
[Original image via AUTOSPORT]