Vettel leads Red Bull 1-2 in Valencia
Sebastian Vettel pipped his Red Bull Renault teammate Mark Webber by just 0.075s to win pole position for the European Grand Prix F1 race on the streets of Valencia, Spain. Lewis Hamilton will start 3rd in his McLaren Mercedes.
Red Bull defied its own predictions by qualifying one-two at Valencia -- with the F-duct now fully up and running.
"Valencia should not be our strongest circuit," said delighted pole sitter Sebastian Vettel. “Valencia isn’t usually - or shouldn’t be - our strongest circuit so it’s good that we are able to put the car on pole and I think our pace is looking very good. It was a tight qualifying session, and a tough one especially as we reintroduced the F-duct and I think some of the mechanics had maybe an hour or two’s sleep last night, so it’s good to say thank you by putting the cars on one and two. We’re now in a very strong position to start tomorrow’s race.”
Local Spanish hero Fernando Alonso was 4th in his Ferrari ahead of his teammate Felipe Massa. Robert Kubica of Poland was 6th for Renault ahead of Jenson Button's McLaren.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment in qualifying was the fact that both Mercedes drivers made it out of Q2 qualifying. Nico Rosberg was 12th and Michael Schumacher 15th as it's clear the team's engineers cannot keep pace with the changes of the other top teams as the year progresses.
Nico Rosberg's face was thunder in Valencia on Saturday after qualifying just twelfth.
Although quicker than his famous teammate Michael Schumacher, the young German had been hopeful that a big package of upgrades for the W01 car - including a Red Bull-style exhaust layout - would pull Mercedes to the front.
"This is just as bad as Montreal," Rosberg told German television Sky.
"It's a huge disappointment, because it was said that our season is just beginning here. Our aero package did not function in the way it should have.
"We are not going backwards, but we're not going forwards. That's the problem."
There were rumors prior to Valencia that this upgrade package was a final roll of the dice before team boss Ross Brawn switches the team's entire focus to 2011.
"We are pushing very hard to develop the car and sometimes in pushing so hard, you trip over," he said on Saturday. "We need to reflect, assess and see what our next steps should be."
Lewis Hamilton (3rd, 1:37.969): "Ahead of this weekend, we didn't expect to be quick enough for third on the grid. It's a complete surprise, but it's a fantastic result. I thought my first Q3 lap was good, but you just never knew what the others were doing. On my final lap, I was two tenths up, but I was way over the limit, locked the rears into Turn 17 and had to bail out of it. Fortunately, my previous lap was an awesome one, so I'm so happy to be third. I'm very happy with third, actually - you're on the clean side, so it's a better position to start from than second, and you get the clean line on the inside, so I can make it hard for Mark [Webber] to get into the first corner ahead of me. Today's qualifying could prove crucial for us; we came here determined to minimize the damage because we knew a lot of the other teams would be quick because they'd brought updates to this race. And, for tomorrow, anything's still possible - there's a long straight around the back of the track, and, if we can stay close enough, then there's a possibility to use the F-duct and overtake. I'll be relying on the guys to do the best job possible during the pitstops tomorrow - as they usually do - and I think we're going to have an exciting race."
Jenson Button (7th, 1:38.210): "Things were looking good until the last corner of my last lap in Q3. I was pretty happy with the car, but then I got a bit of oversteer through the quick right-hander before it, and I think that set the car up poorly for the last corner. I locked up, ran wide, and lost two tenths. And that's massive - it could have been fourth on the grid. So, very disappointing. But I can't do anything about it, and I'll be pushing for a better race tomorrow. It'll be very difficult - I just want to get a good start and not get stuck in traffic, because the pace of our car is good. It's disappointing, as I say, but hopefully we can gain some places at the start, execute some quick pitstops and make the most of our strategy - the pits really are the only place where you can overtake around here. I'm a little surprised at the final grid - it's very similar to what we've seen at a lot of other races, despite several teams bringing upgrades to this race. And that's another positive for us."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Fast and committed qualifiers that they both are, Lewis and Jenson pushed as hard as possible in Q3 today. However, they both made small errors on their final laps. Lewis's mistake probably made no difference to his eventual grid position, because the single-lap performance gap to the Red Bulls is quite significant here, but Jenson looked to have P4 in the bag had he negotiated the final corner of his last lap as well as he'd driven the previous turns. Even so, Jenson is an extremely smooth yet very combative race driver - and, bearing in mind that he and Lewis have notched up 86 world championship points in the past two races, we think they're well set to score significantly again tomorrow."
Nico Rosberg (12th, 1:38.627): "It's very frustrating to be so far back on the grid although my lap was good today. There was just no more performance to get out of the car. We had a few issues this morning so we had to make a compromise on our upgrade package and that made the difference of being in the top ten. It's not easy to understand what happened as we hoped to take a step forward here but we haven't got the best of our updates yet and we need to understand the tires quickly. The car will be stronger in the race so we stay positive and see what will happen."
Michael Schumacher (15th, 1:39.234): "Obviously I am disappointed with my position today and it is certainly not where I want to be. I had to fight with two things. Firstly, as in Canada we have a general problem with the tires and we can't get them to work in qualifying. Secondly, I had some difficulties with the brakes and I was locking the front right all the time. This made things extra difficult and is something we need to understand. However our new updates are definitely an advantage, although this was not evident in the performance. I could have gone maybe three-tenths quicker on my last lap if Buemi had not been in the way but it would still not have been enough for Q3. But we are fighters and we know this sport long enough. Our starts are good and with more fuel on board, things do not look so bad. We will certainly try to make the best out of our situation tomorrow."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "Clearly that was a difficult qualifying session. After Montreal, we thought that we understood our issues with the tires but they are still proving to be a challenge. The team and drivers did as well as they could today but we do not have the pace at the moment and we are not making the tires work well, particularly in qualifying. We are pushing very hard to develop the car and sometimes in pushing so hard, you trip over. We need to reflect, assess and see what our next steps should be."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "It is a disappointing qualifying result today for our team. Of course it was very tight, but if you are six-tenths slower than the best lap time, then you end up in twelfth place like Nico. Michael hit traffic in the last sector of his fastest lap which prevented him from improving further. We will certainly not give up on improving our package as we have done continuously since the season began but our competitors have been doing the same. Our race pace tomorrow should be better."
Sebastian Vettel (1st, 1:37.587): "Valencia isn't usually - or shouldn't be - our strongest circuit so it's good that we are able to put the car on pole and I think our pace is looking very good. It was a tight qualifying session, and a tough one especially as we reintroduced the F-duct and I think some of the mechanics had maybe an hour or two's sleep last night, so it's good to say thank you by putting the cars on one and two. We're now in a very strong position to start tomorrow's race."
Mark Webber (2nd, 1:37.662): "It would be nice to be the other way around but you can't do it all the time! I'm pleased to be on the front row with Seb, and all credit to the team. This isn't one of our strongest circuits and the track is like a Tesco car park, but we've had a good day and let's see how tomorrow goes. I'm very optimistic we can have a good race."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "The one-two was completely unexpected at a track that might have exposed some of our weaknesses. The team has put a lot of hard work into the new duct, and that combined with other bits and pieces and perfect laps from both drivers has produced a great result to start tomorrow's race. We know the McLarens are quick in straight-line speed, but we are confident of a good race."
Fabrice Lom, Renault: "We are back on the front row with is very good. We made a big step forward with the new parts and with the engines behaving well on this track we can expect a good result tomorrow."
Fernando Alonso (4th, 1:38.075): "I am happy with this result. Here, so many teams, including Ferrari, have brought new parts and so it was important to show we are capable of fighting for the top places. We managed it and we must bear in mind that, without the updates we have on the F10, we would probably have struggled to make it into Q3. Tomorrow, we have the potential to fight for a podium place: it will be important to get a good start, choose the right strategy and not make any mistakes because the walls here are not forgiving. Obviously, reliability will be very important as this track is very tough on the cars. With the harder tire, our car was more competitive as its behavior inspired more confidence over the flying lap, but to have done Q3 with this compound would probably have compromised our race."
Felipe Massa (5th, 1:38.127): "Today, we had a good car and the potential was there to do better than this fifth place. In Q1 and Q2, I was very pleased with the handling of my F10, but in Q3 I was not able to improve, mainly because of traffic that prevented me from preparing the tires properly. It's a shame, because I could have been starting from third place tomorrow: from fifth it will be harder to fight for a podium finish, but the chance is still there within our grasp. The updates the team has brought here contributed to making the car more competitive and they lived up to our expectations: we must continue down this route for the rest of the season."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "We are reasonably pleased with this result. The car proved to be competitive and everything was in place to secure an even better result but, for various reasons, we never managed to put together the perfect lap with either of our two drivers. All the same, we know that as always, the points are only given out tomorrow. We can expect a long and difficult race for the drivers the teams and the cars and, as I usually say on Saturdays, reliability will be the key. The technical updates we introduced this weekend have seen us take a step forward in terms of performance, but we must continue to push on the development front, because the other teams are doing the same."
Chris Dyer: "There is a hint of disappointment at this result. After this morning's third free practice session, we saw that our car was very competitive on the harder tire, while it struggled a bit more to get the best out of the softer one on the single flying lap. In the two hours before qualifying, the team worked on trying to find the right compromise and the situation improved, but not enough to put us in the fight for the very top positions, which was also down to the fact that neither driver managed to get a clean lap in Q3. That explains why Felipe and Fernando ended up where they did. All the same, it's not a bad position for the race: from what we have seen so far, the F10 seems to be very competitive over a long run."
Nico Hulkenberg (8th, 1:38.428): "A positive Saturday; that wasn't a bad qualifying! No one expected me to be ahead of Rubens today because he's been quicker than me all weekend. Somehow I pulled out a good lap in Q3 and beat him by a fraction. We're obviously happy that we have both cars in the top ten, which was the aim. Hopefully we'll have a good race and get some points tomorrow."
Rubens Barrichello (9th, 1:38.428): "It was a good qualifying session for the team. Ninth is a strong position to be starting from, but I could have done better than that if it weren't for a problem with brake warm up in Q3. I'm looking forward to tomorrow and certainly feel we can achieve a top sixth finish as the car is looking competitive. We are quite happy with the improvements we've brought here this weekend. We still need to keep pushing, but this demonstrates that we can be fast."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "To get both cars into Q3 is good progress with the whole car package. Rubens had an issue with glazed brakes, which was a shame as that pushed him down the order. Nico did a good job in qualifying today. We do still have to improve across all areas of the car, and if we do that quickly we'll feature in the top ten more regularly. Rubens will be racing the blown rear wing tomorrow while Nico will run a standard version."
Robert Kubica (6th, 1:38.137): "It has been a pretty good qualifying and the car was especially strong on the prime tire. On the options I had a lot more movement so the car felt quite different and we didn't really gain the lap time, but we made a decision that it would be better to start the race on the options. Although I finished higher in the first two parts of qualifying, I think the end result reflects our true position. The new updates on the car this weekend are bringing us some gains, but we still need to work to get 100% from them, which I hope we can do in the coming races."
Vitaly Petrov (10th, 1:38.523): "It's fantastic to get into Q3 because the times were very close today. Unfortunately I made some mistakes on my fastest lap in Q3 so I could maybe have been even higher on the grid. In the race anything can happen so I will try and look after my tires and make up some positions. There are a lot of new parts on the car this weekend and I have had to adapt my driving style, but I can feel a big improvement with the car."
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: "It's always good to see both cars in Q3 because it's not something we have managed that often this season. After Q1 and Q2 we were expecting an even better result in Q3, but we didn't find the performance that we expected with the soft tires. For the race tomorrow we have a good strategy and hopefully we can get both cars in the points and make up some ground on Mercedes."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "I'm pleased to see both cars in the top ten for the second time in three races and it's nice to be well ahead of both Mercedes, our closest competitors in the championship. We were actually hoping for a better position with Robert today, but we struggled more than we expected with the option tire. Although it's the softer compound, the car was moving around more and felt less together on the option. You might expect a softer tire to have more grip, but you can't use that extra grip if the car isn't easy to drive. However, we felt that we needed to start the race on the option, so that we don't have to do a long stint on it in the race."
Adrian Sutil (13th, 1:38.851): "This morning the car felt really good and I could push on both the prime and the option tires, and it showed in the time I was able to do. But in Q2 I had a clean lap but the grip just didn't seem to be there. Over the whole session it was so hard and we couldn't get the tires to work - such a big difference from the morning session. It's obviously very disappointing as we looked very strong here and we didn't change much from this morning. I'm now concentrating on the race - we had a good event here last year and, as we saw in Montreal, our race pace is very strong so there's always opportunities to make up positions."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (14th, 1:38.884): "This morning we were really quick and it didn't start too badly in Q1 for us so we were very positive about getting a good result. But it got very hot this afternoon, perhaps seven or eight degrees hotter than in free practice this morning, and it seemed to have a big effect on the tires. Both Adrian and myself had big issues with the soft tires in Q2 and had a lot of understeer. It's a real shame as both yesterday and this morning we were looking very competitive and we had hoped for more. But we're not giving up as there are so many possibilities in the race - just look at Montreal where we had the accident at the start, but fought to the end and still picked up two points."
Dr. Vijay Mallya, Team Principal: "It's been a disappointing day as we showed a genuine pace this morning and couldn't quite deliver this afternoon. It's something to work on tonight and come back strong in the race tomorrow. We've shown good pace here before and in fact last year we started 12th and 16th and finished 10th and 12th in the race so there's still everything to work towards."
Sebastien Buemi (11th, 1:38.586): "It's my best qualifying result of the season and I did not expect to do so well before the start of the session, which is a reason to be pleased. On the other hand, I am a bit disappointed because Barrichello was ahead of me going into the final corner on my last flying lap and he really slowed me down. He was on his slowing down lap, but it cost me two tenths which should have seen me finish higher than eleventh. To be honest, I'm not sure why the car worked so well today, because we have not changed anything since Canada. It proves the team is doing a fine job. It's good to start from further up the grid than usual, right in the middle of the pack, which means I have every chance of having a good race, even if it will be very difficult to overtake."
Jaime Alguersuari (17th, 1:39.458): "I'm not sure what happened as we seemed to lack pace this afternoon. I tried to push as hard as possible, but the speed did not come, so we will need to look at the data to understand what went on. Maybe my tire pressures were a bit too low and I struggled especially on the soft tires, maybe I did not have quite the right feeling from the brakes, which are very important here but for whatever reason I was very slow. Today, my team-mate did a better job than me, so we will have to try and improve in order to catch up in the race tomorrow."
Giorgio Ascanelli, Technical Director: "The times were very close this afternoon and Sebastien had a particularly good qualifying session, although there is some feeling of regret because he could have done slightly better than eleventh place, if he had not been held up by traffic towards the end of his last flying lap. What I am particularly pleased about is that, on his final run in Q2, Seb decided to go for a single flying lap to gain the advantage of carrying less fuel weight and it paid off, which was the right way to do it. Jaime, who went for two timed laps on both his Q2 runs, also had a bit of a traffic problem and so he did not get it quite right today. As for tomorrow's race, free practice demonstrated that we appear to have a good pace over a long run, which is encouraging."
Jarno Trulli (19th, 1:40.658): "I'm feeling quite a lot happier now - things have been getting better all weekend now I have the new chassis, and as I've not had any real problems I've been able to work on the setup, which obviously helped today. I do still have a bit of an issue with the brakes, but it feels like a new start from where I've been and I'm pleased with the performance today. We are another step ahead of the teams behind and I think we'll be ok tomorrow."
Heikki Kovalainen (20th, 1:40.882): "It was a little disappointing for me out there today. I didn't feel as comfortable as I did yesterday, when I was very happy with the car. Today it seems I had to fight the car a bit, and I really had to attack to get some good times. But it's ok. I'm not too worried, and tomorrow I will push again and try to bring the car home to the end of the race."
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: "There's a lot of good points that have come out of today - the main one is that we've finished quite comfortably ahead of Virgin and HRT, and it was great to hear Jarno happy over the radio - his new chassis looks like it may have brought about a change in luck, so let's hope that continues tomorrow. Our engineers tell me we've taken another step forward today, and hopefully we'll get even more out of the new Cosworth engine in the race - it's very encouraging to see the performance of both of the Cosworth powered Williams cars today, so hopefully we can keep pushing like them and get both cars home tomorrow."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "I'm very pleased with Qualifying today - it was a very solid effort from the whole team. We were actually 2.5 seconds off the quickest time in Q1, and percentage wise that's our best performance of the year so far. We've moved further away from the competition behind us, so overall it was a very solid performance, with the whole team continuing to move forward. Now we'll have to match that with a two car finish in the race tomorrow."
Karun Chandhok (23rd, 1:42.600): "I am very pleased with how it went today. We had a far more productive practice session this morning and played a lot with the electronic settings on my car which was very useful for qualifying. My fastest lap was pretty good - it's never neat and tidy around here but I think I got the maximum from the car this afternoon. The temperature is expected to be quite high again tomorrow so it will be a tough race for the cars, tires and drivers. Our race pace has generally been good so I am looking forward to a long race tomorrow."
Bruno Senna (24th, 1:42.851): "It was a difficult qualifying session today when the track improved a bit. But I didn't get my lap together and I lost a lot of time. Unfortunately, I couldn't end up with a better result than this. But it is going to be a long race tomorrow and I hope to do a better job then."
Colin Kolles, Team Principal: "We expected more than the result we did today. Even if we could fix the problems we had on both cars yesterday, unfortunately, we couldn't perform as well as we did in the races before. The lap times of the new teams are close and if you do a small mistake on a street circuit like this, you get pushed back on the grid. But we will be well prepared for tomorrow's race and we hope to fight for positions with the other teams again."
Pedro de la Rosa (16th, 1:39.264): "Sixteenth doesn't look great, but I must say I am quite happy with what we did in qualifying. In Q1 especially our performance was really good. We improved the car after free practice and the changes paid off. We pushed hard and I think we got the best out of the package. There are limits. I think the track conditions favored the harder tire compound. The prime tires were really good. With the softer option tires I had a lack of grip and was sliding too much."
Kamui Kobayashi (18th, 1:39.343): "I am very disappointed after having been out so early in qualifying. My first run on the prime tires was okay, and when we changed to the option tires I was expecting a lot more from them for the second run, but there was no extra grip. Anyway I didn't exploit the potential because on my first flying lap with the softer tires I locked the front wheels, which resulted in them being flat spotted. That's why I felt vibrations in the car and this ruined my second flying lap. It is a shame."
James Key, Technical Director: "It was a disappointing qualifying, but incredibly close. The grip level seemed to be quite inconsistent, and unfortunately it wasn't possible for Kamui to get through to the second part of qualifying. He flat spotted the front tires and was therefore not able to put the best sector times together, which seemed to be tricky today on the option tires. Pedro did quite a good job in Q1 where he was 13th. He then began Q2 on the prime tires and switched to the option tires for the second run, but again a lack of grip and a balance difference between the two compounds seemed to be the problem. Unfortunately he couldn't improve his lap time, and again the sectors tell a slightly different story. But that's where we are this weekend, so we have to improve."
Lucas di Grassi (21st, 1:42.086): "I'm very happy to be the fastest Virgin Racing driver today. This is my debut year in F1 and I've been learning a lot with each Grand Prix. I've been getting closer to Timo's lap times and to be able to keep pace with someone with his ability and experience is a good measure of the progress I feel I am making. Your team-mate is always your easiest comparison but we are not fighting each other - we are working together to make Virgin Racing the best of the new teams. We have a lot of work to do to improve the car and our pace, so while I'm very pleased with the result today, that is where our focus lies."
Timo Glock (22nd, 1:42.140): "Unfortunately we made the wrong decision with the tires today. We thought things would work out with the Option tire with a small set-up change, but I had one run on Primes and they were definitely much quicker. Unfortunately I made a mistake out of the last corner and lost around 0.5 secs, otherwise I would have been quicker than Lucas and closer to the Lotus cars. Now we have to look at the opportunities for the Race tomorrow."
Nick Wirth, Technical Director: "Lucas and his engineers continued to have a smooth weekend and he did a good job in Qualifying. I think he's having a great rookie year so far. Timo wasn't happy with some overnight set-up changes on our new development parts, and that made the tire comparison in FP3 harder to judge. We successfully went back to the Friday settings for Qualifying, but the choice of the Option tire for his first run was incorrect and he didn't get the most out of his last run on Primes. As ever, we'll be chasing a two-car finish in the Race tomorrow."
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