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Qualifying - Vettel bests the rest to secure Valencia pole 23 Jun 2012

(L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren, pole sitter Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing and Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams celebrate in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Valencia, Spain, Saturday, 23 June 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Valencia, Spain, Saturday, 23 June 2012 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Valencia, Spain, Saturday, 23 June 2012 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Valencia, Spain, Saturday, 23 June 2012 Charles Pic (FRA) Marussia F1 Team MR01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Valencia, Spain, Saturday, 23 June 2012 Atmosphere.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Valencia, Spain, Saturday, 23 June 2012

After one of the closest battles of the season Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel finally took pole position for the 2012 Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe - by 0.316s from McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.

Pastor Maldonado had just beaten Romain Grosjean for fastest time, with 1m 38.475s in his Williams to the Frenchman’s 1m 38.505s for Lotus, when Vettel slammed round in 1m 38.086s to reset the ante. €n the end Hamilton got closest on his second run, with 1m 38.410s. That was a relief for McLaren as Jenson Button’s second run improved him only to 1m 38.801s for ninth place.

Behind Maldonado and Grosjean, Kimi Raikkonen was fifth in the second Lotus on 1m 38.513s and will start from row three with Nico Rosberg for company after the German lapped his Mercedes in 1m 38.623s. Kamui Kobayashi, who is under investigation for impeding Nico Hulkenberg in Q1, was seventh for Sauber on 1m 38.741s, with Hulkenberg eighth for Force €ndia on 1m 38.752s. Behind Button, Paul di Resta made it a great day for the Brits with 10th in the second Force €ndia on 1m 38.992s. Less than a second thus covers the top 10.

The track temperature had reached 46 degrees Celsius when Q2 began. As Grosjean led the way on 1m 38.489s and Rosberg, Di Resta, Vettel, Raikkonen, Button and Maldonado all shared laps in 1m 38.5s. Four-thousandths of a second kept local hero Fernando Alonso out of Q3, meanwhile. Kobayashi lapped in 1m 38.703s for 10th, and the Spaniard failed to get out of Q2 with 1m 38.707s. Embarrassing, as Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo was in town.

Michael Schumacher was only 12th for Mercedes on 1m 38.770s from Ferrari’s Felipe Massa on 1m 38.780s, then Bruno Senna took his Williams round in 1m 39.207s for 14th ahead of Sergio Perez’s Sauber on 1m 39.358s, Heikki Kovalainen’s Caterham on 1m 40.295s and Daniel Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso on 1m 40.358s.

Q1 had continued Mark Webber’s Valencian nightmare. As Maldonado headed the times on a track whose temperature had reached 45 degrees Celsius, with a lap of 1m 38.825s which just beat the Force €ndias of Di Resta and Hulkenberg, the Australian struggled after his brake problems this morning and ended up only 19th on 1m 40.395s.

There was a double dose of bad news for the Red Bull brand, as right at the end Kovalainen made the most of Caterham’s revised aero package to jump from P20 to P17 with a lap of 1m 40.087s which pushed Jean-Eric Vergne down to 18th and made the Toro Rosso driver the first drop-out with 1m 40.203s.

Behind Webber, Vitaly Petrov was 20th in the other Caterham with 1m 40.457s, ahead of Pedro de la Rosa’s HRT on 1m 42.171s, team mate Narain Karthikeyan on 1m 42.527s and Charles Pic in the sole Marussia on 1m 42.675s.

Timo Glock did not participate in qualifying due to his stomach bug, but Marussia hopes that he will be allowed to start the race on the basis that his free practice times were within 107 percent, assuming that he feels better on Sunday.

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