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Qualifying analysis - can anyone or anything stop Red Bull? 25 Jun 2011

Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB7.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Valencia, Spain, Saturday, 25 June 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Valencia, Spain, Saturday, 25 June 2011 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Valencia, Spain, Saturday, 25 June 2011 Lotus Renault GP R31 in parc ferme conditions.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Valencia, Spain, Saturday, 25 June 2011 Grid girls.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Valencia, Spain, Saturday, 25 June 2011 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C30.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Valencia, Spain, Saturday, 25 June 2011 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM04.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Valencia, Spain, Saturday, 25 June 2011 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Williams FW33.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Valencia, Spain, Saturday, 25 June 2011 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Team Lotus T128.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Valencia, Spain, Saturday, 25 June 2011 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Valencia, Spain, Saturday, 25 June 2011 Pirelli tyres.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Preparations, Valencia, Spain, Thursday, 23 June 2011

All the talk of how engine-mapping rule tweaks may or may not affect the qualifying pace of the Red Bull came to naught on Saturday in Valencia as Sebastian Vettel took his seventh pole position of the season, ahead of team mate Mark Webber. But with the confident Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button for McLaren, and the ever-feisty Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa for Ferrari just behind, Vettel and Webber won’t be taking anything for granted. We take a team-by-team look at how they line up for Sunday’s race…

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 36.975s, P1
Mark Webber, 1m 37.163s, P2

Both Red Bull drivers were clearly very happy to disprove the theories that the change in engine mapping rules would penalise them. Vettel said he got a very clean lap with which he was happy; Webber said he did not like his car at all in Q1, and that the team changed the set-up and then handled a brake balance problem after the first run in Q3. After that, getting on the front row was a major boost, especially as he was only 0.188s behind Vettel.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 37.380s, P3
Jenson Button, 1m 37.645s, P6

Hamilton was on the front row until the second runs in Q3 when Webber displaced him, and admitted that he got too greedy on his second run and spoiled it at Turn One, after which he backed off to save rubber for the race. Button said he was less happy with his MP4-26 than he was in Practice Three, perhaps because a change in track conditions was responsible for the increased oversteer he experienced in Q3. Both, however, believe they will be strong in the race.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 37.454s, P4
Felipe Massa, 1m 37.535s, P5

Ferrari said they were not too disappointed not to be able to challenge Red Bull - who could? - but it grated to be pipped by Hamilton’s McLaren. Like Hamilton, Alonso aborted his second run as soon as it became apparent that it would not improve on his first, but Massa’s did go faster and pushed Button down to fifth. Both expect to be in a position to challenge for a podium place in the race.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, 1m 38.231s, P7
Michael Schumacher, 1m 38.240s, P8

Rosberg said that overnight changes had improved his car and was pleased that running a used set of Pirelli options tyres in Q2 saved a new set for the race. That’s useful as he knows he needs to be very careful not to overheat the rears. Schumacher was very close to him, but admitted that pushing too hard in the final corner provoked oversteer which cost him seventh place. Both expect to challenge for decent points in the race.

Renault
Nick Heidfeld, no time, P9
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 39.068s, P11

Heidfeld said that traffic forced him to do more than the one flying lap he’d planned in Q1. Q2 was okay but he needed two runs to safeguard his position, and having got through to Q3 he decided not to run when it became clear that Sutil was not going to threaten a ninth-place position. Petrov was pushed out of Q3 by Sutil in the dying moments of Q2, but said that was just racing and that he hadn’t had any problems.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, no time, P10
Paul di Resta, 1m 39.422s, P12

Sutil timed his final Q2 lap just right and vaulted into Q3 at Petrov’s expense. He didn’t go out in the final session, accepting a 10th-place start since it enabled him to conserve rubber for the race. Di Resta was on target for Q3, which in itself marked a great recovery from Friday’s lost track time, but a small slide in Turn 17 sent him wide after he missed a downshift and thus obliged him to accept 12th on the grid.

Williams
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 39.489s, P13
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 39.645s, P15

Williams reverted to their standard exhaust after the new one created inconsistent diffuser performance. Barrichello had a trouble-free Q1 and Q2, but hurt his best lap by locking up under braking for the final corner. The team are still investigating the problem that caused Maldonado to bring out the red flag early in Q2 after his FW33 ground mysteriously to halt in the middle of Turn 20.

Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 39.525s, P14
Sergio Perez, 1m 39.657s, P16

Kobayashi said he was very happy with his C30, especially as like Ferrari, Sauber always run better in the race than they do in qualifying. His main problem lay in warming up his tyres, and as soon as he found some grip the fronts started to overheat. Perez looked good for a while but just when he expected to benefit from an increase in track temperature, things came apart from him and he didn’t improve.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 39.711s, P17
Jaime Alguersuari, 1m 40.232s, P18

Buemi made it through to Q2, and then had a tough time that left him 17th, even though he felt that he had a very good lap in Q1 that put him 10th. He blamed the Maldonado red flag in Q2 for interrupting his programme. Alguersuari was the fastest driver not to make it through Q1. The Spaniard said the lost track time in Practice Two on Friday hurt his campaign as he lacked data on the performance of the prime and option Pirellis. As a result his STR6 was overheating its rears and oversteering too much.

Lotus
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 41.664s, P19
Jarno Trulli, 1m 42.234s, P20

Kovalainen was very happy with what he got out of his T128 (and was at one stage 14th in Q1), but Trulli complained of traffic and other drivers backing off in the final sector. He also spun in the last corner trying to go quicker.

Virgin
Timo Glock, 1m 42.553s, P21
Jerome D'Ambrosio, 1m 43.735s, P23

Glock said he was very pleased with his weekend so far, apart from some traffic on his second run in Q1 which cost him his chance on his second set of tyres. D’Ambrosio had a disappointing day which ended when something in the rear suspension of his Virgin broke.

HRT
Tonio Liuzzi, 1m 43.584s, P22
Narain Karthikeyan, 1m 44.363s, P24

HRT were unhappy with their performance in the second and third sectors. Liuzzi said he was happier with the balance than he had been on Friday but that they still have to be very careful to preserve the rear tyres. Karthikeyan said that yesterday’s gearbox problem compromised his chances of dialling out some instability under braking.

Pirelli
The tyre manufacturer believes their soft compound was over a second quicker than their medium tyre in the heat of Valencia on Saturday. With the forecast suggesting similar temperatures on Sunday, however, they expect the pace advantage of the PZero Yellow will be balanced by the extra stability and durability of the PZero White.

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