Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Valencia, 2011

Unbeatable Red Bull claim front row in Valencia

2011 European GP qualifyingPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Valencia, 2011
Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Valencia, 2011

The change in the engine mapping rules didn’t stop Red Bull dominating qualifying again.

The pair locked out the front row of the grid with Lewis Hamilton third ahead of Fernando Alonso.

Q1

With the soft tyres offering a significant reduction in lap time compared to the mediums, the front-running drivers had to make some difficult decisions to avoid using a set of softs in Q1.

Felipe Massa opted to do a run on soft tyres and ended up quickest of all as a result.

Team mate Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber took the risky move of doing a second run on medium tyres, but were able to scrape through despite slipping through the order.

But they earned the benefit of saving a fresh set of soft tyres, as did Sebastian Vettel and, surprisingly, the two McLaren driver,s who had struggled on the medium tyres in practice.

It was the ‘usual suspects’ who failed to get through to Q2 – both the Lotuses, Virgins and HRTS plus, once again, Jaime Alguersuari’s Toro Rosso.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’40.232
19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1’41.664
20 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1’42.234
21 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’42.553
22 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1’43.584
23 Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1’43.735
24 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’44.363

Q2

Sebastian Vettel went straight to the top of the times with his first lap on soft tyres. His effort was four-tenths of a second faster than the two closely-matched McLarens.

Fernando Alonso went fourth and was poised to improve his time when the red flags came out.

Pastor Maldonado had come to a stop with a technical problem on his Williams, and the session had to be stopped so the car could be recovered.

As Q2 restarted Vitaly Petrov and Sebastien Buemi were among the first out, having not done a time at the beginning of the session.

A late improvement by Adrian Sutil enabled him to knocked Petorv out of the last place in the top ten.

Paul di Resta was out-qualified for his team mate for the second time this year after a mistake in the final sector.

The other four drivers to be eliminated were Rubens Barrichello, Sebastien Buemi and the Sauber pair.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’39.068
12 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’39.422
13 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’39.489
14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’39.525
15 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1’39.645
16 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’39.657
17 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’39.711

Q3

Vettel remained untouchable in the final part of qualifying, four-tenths of a second quicker than the McLaren drivers.

The Red Bulls, McLarens and Ferraris all did two runs but few improved with their second efforts – Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel all aborted their second laps.

Webber did improve and jumped up to take second on the grid alongside his team mate.

Nick Heidfeld and Adrian Sutil didn’t set times at all, preferring to save tyres, and will start on row five.

Top ten in Q3

1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’36.975
2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’37.163
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’37.380
4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’37.454
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’37.535
6 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’37.645
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’38.231
8 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’38.240
9 Nick Heidfeld Renault No time
10 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes No time

2011 European Grand Prix

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Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images