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Qualifying - untouchable Vettel wows with Albert Park pole 26 Mar 2011

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB7.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 26 March 2011 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW33.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 26 March 2011 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM04.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 26 March 2011 Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR6.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 26 March 2011 Narain Karthikeyan (IND) Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT) F111.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 26 March 2011

Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull crushed their opposition in Albert Park on Saturday to grab pole position for the Australian Grand Prix by a stunning eight-tenths of a second, the world champion being in a class of his own as he lapped in 1m 23.529s in Q3.

Lewis Hamilton showed that McLaren’s Friday form was far from the fluke some believed, by snatching second place on the grid from Red Bull’s Mark Webber, with a lap of 1m 24.307s compared to the local hero’s 1m 24.395s. McLaren’s Jenson Button kept Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso at bay with 1m 24.779s for fourth, the Spaniard having to settle for 1m 24.974s for Ferrari.

Renault’s Vitaly Petrov was the surprise of qualifying with an excellent performance for sixth place in 1m 25.247s, which left team mate Nick Heidfeld in the shade, then came Nico Rosberg on 1m 25.421s for Mercedes, Felipe Massa on 1m 25.599s for Ferrari after spinning in Turn One on his final out-lap, then Kamui Kobayashi on 1m 25.626s in the promising Sauber C30 and Sebastien Buemi on 1m 27.066s in the lead Toro Rosso.

Rubens Barrichello and Adrian Sutil enlivened Q2 by spinning; the Brazilian dropped his Williams on his out-lap and took no further part, thus assuring himself of 17th on the grid, while the German spun his Force India on the exit to the last corner and ruined a good lap. He lines up 16th on 1m 31.407s.

Ahead of them, as Vettel again went fastest, Michael Schumacher’s hopes of challenging the Red Bulls were never realised and he failed to get into the top 10 with 1m 25.971s. That left him ahead of Jaime Alguersuari’s Toro Rosso on 1m 26.103s, Sergio Perez’s Sauber, which the Mexican rookie will start 13th on the grid thanks to 1m 26.108s, and fellow new boy Paul di Resta who’ll start 14th in the Force India after a solid lap of 1m 26.739s.

There was drama for Renault in the dying moments of Q1. Nick Heidfeld vaulted into the top 17 with his final lap, but Massa was on a quick one too for Ferrari, and displaced Robert Kubica’s replacement. That left the German 18th on 1m 27.239s. Behind him came the Lotus T128s of Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli, closer to the midfield than last year but not close enough, on 1m 29.254s and 1m 29.342s respectively. Timo Glock continued Virgin’s sudden improvement to 21st on 1m 29.858s, with Jerome D’Ambrosio 22nd on 1m 30.822s in the sister car.

Both HRTs ran throughout, and Vitantonio Liuzzi did a fantastic job in only a handful of laps with the brand new car to lap in 1m 32.978s, as team mate Narain Karthikeyan managed 1m 34.295s. But with the 107 percent exclusion lap time at 1m 31.266s based on Vettel’s fastest time of 1m 25.296s, the Spanish cars failed to qualify and will not race on Sunday.

All of the top ten set their best Q3 times on Pirelli's soft tyre and hence must start Sunday's race on that compound, assuming dry track conditions.

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