Vettel takes third Valencia pole position in a row

2012 European Grand Prix qualifying

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Valencia, 2012Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton share the front row of the grid in Valencia as they did last time out in Canada.

But it was a disappointing qualifying session for Ferrari, with neither Fernando Alonso nor Felipe Massa reaching the top ten.

Q1

Marussia’s session hit a setback before qualifying had even begun: Timo Glock had been suffering from a stomach complaint all weekend and it ruled him out of competing.

Despite that Q1 still had a surprise in store. Mark Webber, who had been delayed by a technical fault in final practice, had further problems after returning to the track and failed to make the cut for Q2. A DRS glitch accounted for at least part of his troubles.

That gave Jean-Eric Vergne a chance to make it through but that was denied him by Heikki Kovalainen, who got the Caterham into Q2 once again, beating the Toro Rosso by over a tenth of a second.

Lewis Hamilton was fastest to begin with on medium tyres, though his mark was beaten by a succession of midfield drivers using the soft tyres to ensure their progression to the next stage of qualifying.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’40.203
19 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’40.395
20 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1’40.457
21 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1’42.171
22 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’42.527
23 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1’42.675
24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth

Q2

All the drivers bar the Ferraris and Kovalainen began Q2 on the soft tyres. Nico Rosberg led the first runners, following by Kimi Raikkonen and the two McLarens.

Ferrari’s medium tyre runs left their drivers outside the top ten. Fernando Alonso went sixth once he put the soft tyres on.

McLaren sat tight to begin with and finally sent their two drivers out for a second run as Paul di Resta jumped up to second in his Force India. Rosberg and Raikkonen remained in the pits.

All five of them made it in but as the others improved Ferrair found themselves under increased pressure. Grosjean’s last effort put him fastest of all and squeezed Alonso out of the top ten.

But the margin of defeat was incredibly small: Alonso was just four-thousandths of a second slower than tenth-place Kobayashi and 0.218s off Grosjean’s session-topping effort.

Felipe Massa made it both Ferraris out in Q2 and Michael Schumacher joined him, only able to manage 12th.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’38.707
12 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’38.770
13 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’38.780
14 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1’39.207
15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’39.358
16 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’40.295
17 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’40.358

Q3

Vettel was not among the drivers who set times at the beginning of Q3. It was Rosberg who set the pace initially, followed by the two McLarens.

Like Vettel, Grosjean elected to do a single lap. His effort put him at the top of the times, despite a moment of oversteer at turn 13.

Maldonado also did a single effort and he beat Grosjean time to put the Williams ahead.

But Vettel’s time blew them both away by three-tenths of a second – more than the gap covering the entire top ten in Q2. Hamilton scraped into second by less than a tenth of a second from Maldonado.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner hailed Vettel’s effort as “probably his best lap this year”. Vettel claimed pole position for the third year in a row in Valencia – and goes into tomorrow’s race looking for his third consecutive win.

Top ten in Q3

1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’38.086
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’38.410
3 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’38.475
4 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’38.505
5 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’38.513
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’38.623
7 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’38.741
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’38.752
9 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’38.801
10 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’38.992

2012 European Grand Prix

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146 comments on Vettel takes third Valencia pole position in a row

  1. Traverse Mark Senior (@) said on 23rd June 2012, 15:08

    I loved watching Luca Di Montezemolo’s disgust at Ferrari’s lacklustre performance.

    • icemangrins (@icemangrins) said on 23rd June 2012, 15:34

      @tmcs88 this must have been awkward for Pat Fry.

      • Traverse Mark Senior (@) said on 23rd June 2012, 15:44

        @icemangrins Indeed. Also, I can’t work out whether Massa raised is game or if Alonso under performed?.

        • Massa raised his game but I don’t think Alonso underperformed. I think Ferrari happened to both of them, this weekend. That and the Pirelli-induced cramming in the midfield in Q2.

          • Traverse Mark Senior (@) said on 23rd June 2012, 17:22

            Pirelli-induced cramming in the midfield in Q2

            It was amazing that there was only 2 tenths separating p1 & p13.

          • I have no problem with it. Not so sure about Ferrari though. :)

          • Tyeto said on 23rd June 2012, 23:31

            Watch the qualifying again. Alonso did just a few laps in comparion to massa, vettel , Hamilton , etc. that is why he has a few sets of brand new tyres at his disposal for the race while drivers like massa and Hamilton does not.

        • Antonio Nartea (@tony031r) said on 24th June 2012, 1:54

          he has a few sets of brand new tyres at his disposal for the race

          I’m sorry but I don’t see how that’s gonna turn out to be an advantage for him in Valencia. Ok, I admit, pitting him at the right moment combined with two stints on fresh options might gain him a couple of extra track positions but that’s it. I still don’t see how he could climb higher than 5th – if he’s lucky.

          Remember, we’re dealing with a track where it’s almost impossible to overtake and where a good quali session combined with a fairly quick car can sort out half the job for you.

          If he deliberately chose to save tyres…I still think pushing for Q3 and maybe a 5th or 6th position on the grid would have been a much better idea. Imho.

    • MJ4 said on 23rd June 2012, 15:38

      There’s something in Di Montezemolo’s manner that would make me as a Ferrari employee kind of freeze, or at least feel very awkward in his presence.

  2. JamieFranklinF1 (@jamiefranklinf1) said on 23rd June 2012, 15:23

    Well, it was a great qualifying session! Very close, and although I’d have liked to see JB up near the front, I knew that the McLarens wouldn’t be quite as competitive. That being said, Hamilton did a great job for second, but I think he’ll fall back in the race. I fully expect the Lotuses to have a very strong race, and will be the only cars that will be capable of Vettel becoming the second winner this year. It’ll also be interesting to see the pace of the Force India compared to that of the Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari in the race, to see if they’re capable of maintaining the form that has been hinted at in practice.

  3. JohnBt (@johnbt) said on 23rd June 2012, 15:51

    What a lap from Vettel. The qualimaster is back. Royal Flush.

  4. Umar Majid (@um1234) said on 23rd June 2012, 15:54

    If Grosjean doesnt crash on the first lap like a few times, he will get a podium, i predicted a RAI, VET,GRO as top 3

  5. robk23 (@robk23) said on 23rd June 2012, 16:13

    That was a very good qualifying, I have to say I’m a tiny bit disappointed with Vettel’s pole position when I was expecting a bit more from the likes of Lotus, Force India and Williams. I still think that in the race, Grosjean will be a serious contender if he doesn’t total his car on the first lap.

  6. Palle (@palle) said on 23rd June 2012, 16:24

    My guess was Pole: Vettel, time: 1:38.123 – only 0.04 off. But I’m amazed over this close field. But my prediction of Button finishing second in the race and Alonso finishing in 4th, doesn’t seem very smart right now. As Fer no.65 I hope for either an exiting Valencia race – or a meteorite;-)

  7. Traverse Mark Senior (@) said on 23rd June 2012, 16:33

    The last time there was a international football tournament on (World Cup 2010), Vettel won the Valencia GP, Hamilton finished second, Germany won their first knock out game and England lost our first. Also a goal was disallowed (even though it clearly crossed the line).

  8. danclapp (@danclapp) said on 23rd June 2012, 16:39

    Were is @Tetelo the ferrari fan who since canad has been very quiet he always say’s ham is slow and that he chews tyres etc where are you know,hamiltons had 4 podiums this season the only person to do so. It would be 5 if not for spain i think hams driving better than ever look at button quicker all weekend than hamilton gets 2nd come crunch time ham wins same as people saying webber as done well really he has 1 podium which was a win at monaco but still alo and vettel av had 3 and ham 4 the cream always rises to the top.

  9. HUHHII (@huhhii) said on 23rd June 2012, 17:04

    I think Kimi’s changes to win or at least make it to podium look pretty good. He is starting from the clean side of the track, which should be an advantage in Valencia. Kimi also has unused set of option tires, unlike anyone else in TOP-5. It’s gonna be hot day tomorrow, which should suit Lotuses well. Lotus’ pace looked competent in long stints they practiced at Friday free practices.
    If he gets at least decent start to race it will look good for him.

    • HUHHII (@huhhii) said on 23rd June 2012, 17:06

      *chances

      • infernojim (@infernojim) said on 23rd June 2012, 18:43

        He doesn’t have a set of unused options.

        He had 2 sets going into q3, and had 2 runs… so he’s used all three. The benefit is that he probably has 2 slightly fresher sets than the majority of the rest of the grid.

        Rosberg is in the same boat.

        Everyone else, including Vettel, used softs in Q1, and Q2, and then used the third set in Q3.

        Vettel may have aligned himself with Rosberg / Kimi’s tyre advantage, by not doing a run on scrubbed Options in Q3, and just doing the one run at the end…

  10. Non-sensical quali session if anything, but…I’m gonna face it. I’m more excited than I ever thought I would be in anticipation of a Valencian Grand Prix. Having Webber, Alonso, Massa, Schumacher and Perez starting in the pack can only make things more interesting as I’m expecting all of them to drive like madmen and take risks with both overtaking and strategies tomorrow.

    At the front, if Lotus up their game we’re in for a treat. Otherwise…this is Vettel’s race from start to finish, imho. I wouldn’t trust Hamilton with delivering a brilliant drive here, despite his good quali lap. Maldonado seems doomed to drop back and the Force Indias made too much of a mess out of Q3 to be podium contenders anymore.

    Of, course, all this is just one theory. I’ve learned not to take anything for granted this season.

    Oh, and biggles to Kovalainen for P16. Well earned for Catheram and, may I say: “finally!”

  11. Formula KID (@alexdell) said on 23rd June 2012, 17:38

    Paul di Resta & Nico H├╝lkenberg on podium, asking to much, it possible ..lol..

  12. Theo1 said on 23rd June 2012, 18:47

    @PrisonerMonkey – I forgot to reply to your post in the earlier thread. Care to comment now? I believe my assumption was well justified. I like being realistic.

  13. danclapp (@danclapp) said on 23rd June 2012, 20:20

    Rosberg found his last run of Q3 compromised when he was held up behind Hamilton – who had been driving slowly in the final sector of the lap to try and build himself a good buffer to the cars ahead of him.

    Hamilton managed to deliver a lap that secured him second on the grid, while Rosberg was left ruing what might have been – as he was left down in P6 with the time from his first run.

    Speaking about how much Hamilton’s situation had cost him, Rosberg said: “It had a big impact. But that’s beside the point really. The point is that there is a rule, stating very clearly that you are not allowed to slow down in those last couple of corners unnecessarily. That is the rule, it is very clear, because it is dangerous.

    “In this case, me and [Pastor] Maldonado were arriving flat out, and Lewis was driving extremely slowly all of a sudden. It’s just a very dangerous situation, and that’s what the rule is there for.

    “At the same time, as a side point, it did ruin my lap because I started the lap stuck behind him.”

    Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn believes that Rosberg had had the potential to be fighting for a front row start if he had got a clean run on that final lap.

    “Nico had a good balance and was looking as if he could challenge for the front row,” he said. “And he got caught up with Lewis.

    “He had Maldonado behind him so he was conscious of making sure he gave Maldonado clearance to finish his lap, and Lewis backed him up into Maldonado. So that was the end of our qualifying.”

    McLaren confirmed on Saturday evening that Hamilton had been summoned to see the stewards to discuss the matter.

    Rosberg found his last run of Q3 compromised when he was held up behind Hamilton – who had been driving slowly in the final sector of the lap to try and build himself a good buffer to the cars ahead of him.

    Hamilton managed to deliver a lap that secured him second on the grid, while Rosberg was left ruing what might have been – as he was left down in P6 with the time from his first run.

    Speaking about how much Hamilton’s situation had cost him, Rosberg said: “It had a big impact. But that’s beside the point really. The point is that there is a rule, stating very clearly that you are not allowed to slow down in those last couple of corners unnecessarily. That is the rule, it is very clear, because it is dangerous.

    “In this case, me and [Pastor] Maldonado were arriving flat out, and Lewis was driving extremely slowly all of a sudden. It’s just a very dangerous situation, and that’s what the rule is there for.

    “At the same time, as a side point, it did ruin my lap because I started the lap stuck behind him.”

    Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn believes that Rosberg had had the potential to be fighting for a front row start if he had got a clean run on that final lap.

    “Nico had a good balance and was looking as if he could challenge for the front row,” he said. “And he got caught up with Lewis.

    “He had Maldonado behind him so he was conscious of making sure he gave Maldonado clearance to finish his lap, and Lewis backed him up into Maldonado. So that was the end of our qualifying.”

    McLaren confirmed on Saturday evening that Hamilton had been summoned to see the stewards to discuss the matter.

  14. Tyeto said on 23rd June 2012, 23:16

    Thn the flexi wings, the blown diffuser, the whole in the diffuser, the brakes, the engine maps? Are the reason for vettel’s success. And the Ferrari designs stole by ( they had a competitive car the following two seasons), the f-duct, and all the time hamilton’s has broken the law whether he was penilized or not.

  15. Tyeto said on 23rd June 2012, 23:21

    Nonsense to all the hamilton’s fans that are saying that vettel will have to be very careful of Hamilton. Let’s be real here. Hamilton used more set is tyres than many of the top 15 drivers. Alonso save three set of 2ss and 1 soft, massa saved some and vettel saved 1ss , while Hamilton did not. So in reality it is Hamilton who has to be very careful of Maldonado , grosjean, etc. this race is for vettel’s to win and lose.

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