Sebastian Vettel claimed his 13th pole position of 2011 in qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton qualified second but will start fifth following his penalty.
He aborted his final effort shortly before Felipe Massa crashed in the dying moments of Q3.
With a large difference in performance between the soft and hard tyres, some of the front runners found themselves under pressure in the first session.
The Red Bull and Ferrari drivers were able to set quick enough times on hard tyres, as was Lewis Hamilton.
But Jenson Button found himself struggling for grip on the hard tyres. He had to return to the track for an extra run, using up a set of soft tyres, guaranteeing his progress to Q2.
Michael Schumacher was in the same situation, and had a scare when he caught Narain Karthikeyan in turn ten during his final lap. But he was able to improve to 11th place.
That knocked out Kamui Kobayashi, the Sauber drivers doing just one run at the end of Q1. Button moved up to third with his final lap.
Timo Glock only did one lap before his gearbox broke, leaving him outside the 107% time. He will need permission from the stewards to start the race.
Drivers eliminated in Q1
The top three teams comfortably made it into Q2 without having to make extra runs. But the fight among the remaining cars was much closer.
Adrian Sutil made it into Q3 with his final lap, squeezing Schumacher out of the top ten. Once again the Mercedes driver found himself needing to pull something out of the bag with his last effort.
But this time he couldn’t manage it and had to settle for 12th place. On his way back to the pits he complained of tyre vibrations, which also troubled him in Korea two weeks ago.
Both Toro Rosso drivers also reached the top ten, eliminating the Renault drivers. Paul di Resta was not able to follow his team mate into Q3.
Drivers eliminated in Q2
|13||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1’26.503|
Hamilton was the first driver out on track in Q3, joined by the Ferrari and Red Bull drivers. Button, having used up a set of softs in Q1, hung back in the pits to begin with.
Hamilton and Webber took a lap to warm up their tyres before doing their quickest runs. They were pipped by Vettel, the trio covered by less than a tenth of a second.
Sutil and the Toro Rossos made a show of going out during the session but returned to the pits without setting times.
The first of the remaining seven drivers to attempt a time was Hamilton, but he aborted his effort as he couldn’t improve in the first two sectors. Vettel came around to tighten his grasp on pole position by improving his time to a 1’24.178.
Further behind, Massa sealed the deal for Vettel by crashing in turn nine, bringing out the yellow flags. The front-right suspension failed on his Ferrari as he hit the kerb at turn eight, sending him into the barriers. He climbed out of his car unhurt.
Button was right behind him as the crash happened and yellow flags came out. He took fifth with a 1’24.950.
However after Hamilton’s penalty Button will be promoted to fourth place and the other McLaren will start fifth.
Top ten in Q3
|1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1’24.178|
|3||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||1’24.508|
|8||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes|
|9||Sebastien Buemi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari|
|10||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso-Ferrari|
2011 Indian Grand Prix
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