Sebastian Vettel has claimed pole once again

Another race weekend, another pole position for Sebastian Vettel.

The German has claimed his thirteenth pole position of the 2011 season, enough to ensure that Red Bull Racing has broken the record held by McLaren (1988-9) and Williams (1992-3) of fifteen pole positions in a season.

After being quickest in the second phase of qualifying, Vettel claimed the top honour with a brisk lap-time in the final segment of qualifying. His time of 1:24.437 set on his first flying lap was good enough for provisional pole and no one was able to overcome it. But he went ahead and bettered it on his final run anyway.

While McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton qualified second-fastest, Vettel will in fact share the front row with Red Bull stablemate Mark Webber, due to Hamilton receiving a three-place grid drop for ignoring yellow flags in yesterday’s first practice session.

Massa shattered his front suspension after hopping the kerbs With Ferrari showing an improved turn of speed, Fernando Alonso finished the session fourth-fastest, while team-mate Felipe Massa was sixth-fastest, despite crashing out in the final seconds of Q3.

The Brazilian took too much kerbing on his final flying lap, smashing his suspension before slithering into the barriers.

The Ferrari drivers effectively sandwiched Jenson Button’s McLaren on the timesheets, with the Englishman struggling to get the best set-up in his car.

Occupying a customary seventh-fastest was Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes GP, while the final three runners in Q3 – Force India’s Adrian Sutil and both Toro Rosso drivers – did not post a lap-time in the session.

The strong showing for the Toro Rosso cars meant that some rather-more-fancied names missed the cut. Michael Schumacher narrowly lost out on a berth in Q3 by just 0.018 seconds; he landed up twelfth-fastest.

Michael Schumacher just missed out on a Q3 berth But the seven-time World Champion will actually start one spot higher as eleventh-quickest Vitaly Petrov carries a five-place grid penalty for clattering into the German at the last race in Korea. Petrov could count himself unlucky not to make Q3, having posted an identical Q2 time to tenth-fastest man Jaime Alguersuari (the Spaniard had posted the time first, and so gets the position).

Despite being hotly-tipped as candidates for an early bath in qualifying, both Williams drivers made it into Q2 at the expense of Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi, who was bumped down into the ‘drop zone’ in the closing seconds of the first qualifying session.

Kobayashi’s team-mate Sergio Pérez fared little better, qualifying slowest in Q2, and he’ll also take a three-place grid drop for the same offence as Hamilton.

At the bottom of timesheets, the two Team Lotus entries once again qualified well clear of the chasing Virgin Racing and HRT entries, with Heikki Kovalainen outpacing team-mate Jarno Trulli by less than two-tenths of a second.

There were some smiles at HRT with both cars outqualifying both Virgin entries for the first time this season. But their hard work has been undone, with both drivers receiving penalties: Daniel Ricciardo will drop to the back of the grid after being forced to replace his gearbox following the final practice session, while Narain Karthikeyan was hit with a five-place penalty for holding up Schumacher in Q1.

Similar gearbox woes for Timo Glock meant he qualified outside the 107% threshold in his Virgin car, but the German has proven to be quick enough in the free practice sessions and will therefore be allowed to take the start of tomorrow’s inaugural race at the Buddh International Circuit.



2011 Indian Grand Prix – Qualifying Session Times:

Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault 1:26.218 1:24.657 1:24.178
2. Lewis Hamilton* GBR McLaren Mercedes 1:26.563 1:25.019 1:24.474
3. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault 1:26.473 1:25.282 1:24.508
4. Fernando Alonso ESP Ferrari 1:26.774 1:25.158 1:24.519
5. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes 1:26.225 1:25.299 1:24.950
6. Felipe Massa BRZ Ferrari 1:27.012 1:25.522 1:25.122
7. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes GP 1:26.364 1:25.555 1:25.451
8. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes 1:26.271 1:25.140 no time
9. Sébastien Buemi SUI Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:26.608 1:25.161 no time
10. Jaime Alguersuari ESP Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:26.557 1:26.319 no time
11. Vitaly Petrov** RUS Renault 1:26.189 1:26.319  
12. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes GP 1:26.790 1:26.337  
13. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes 1:26.864 1:26.503  
16. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Cosworth 1:26.829 1:26.537  
15. Bruno Senna BRZ Renault 1:26.766 1:26.651  
18. Rubens Barrichello BRZ Williams Cosworth 1:27.479 1:27.247  
17. Sergio Pérez* MEX Sauber Ferrari 1:27.249 1:27.562  
18. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari 1:27.876    
19. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Team Lotus Renault 1:28.565    
20. Jarno Trulli ITA Team Lotus Renault 1:28.752    
21. Daniel Ricciardo*** AUS HRT F1 Cosworth 1:30.216    
22. Narain Karthikeyan**** IND HRT F1 Cosworth 1:30.238    
23. Jérôme d’Ambrosio BEL Virgin Racing Cosworth 1:30.866    
  OUTSIDE 107%     1:32.222    
DNQ. Timo Glock DEU Virgin Racing Cosworth 1:34.046    

* Denotes a three-place grid penalty will be applied for ignoring yellow flags during the first practice session of the Indian Grand Prix
** Denotes a five-place grid penalty for causing an avoidable accident at the Korean Grand Prix
*** Denotes a five-place grid penalty for performing a gearbox change after the third practice session
**** Danotes five-place grid penalty for holding up Michael Schumacher during qualifying

[Images via LAT and Sutton Images]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.