Vettel on Valencia pole

Sebastian Vettel re-asserted Red Bull’s authority in qualifying today for the European GP by claiming his fourth pole position of the season.

The German went early among the contenders for top spot, but weathered every other effort in his wake to return to P1 with a lap of 1min 37.587secs, the best of the weekend as the circuit continues to pick up grip.

Vettel was backed up by Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber, who had held top spot through the first half of then 10-minute final session before being pipped by the German. Even though he improved on his final run, the Australian could not summon enough to deprive his young colleague, ending the session 0.075secs adrift.

Lewis Hamilton claimed third, but was lucky that no one behind him on the road was on a faster lap after backing his McLaren into turn 17 and blowing any chance of beating Vettel. Fernando Alonso will share row two with his former nemesis, but could not find enough in Ferrari’s development parts to reprise his Friday exploits.

Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa, the inaugural Valencia race winner, will start from fifth, lining up inside Robert Kubica, who toppled reigning world champion Jenson Button from sixth with the final lap of the session. Button will share row four with Williams rookie Nico Hulkenberg, the German edging team-mate Rubens Barrichello by virtue of posting his 1min 28.428secs lap earlier than the veteran managed an identical mark. Vitaly Petrov rounds out the top ten.

Qualifying times

1. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 1m 37.587s

2. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1m 37.662s

3. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1m 37.969s

4. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 38.075s

5. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 38.127s

6. Robert Kubica Poland Renault-Renault 1m 38.137s

7. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1m 38.210s

8 Nico Hulkenberg Germany Williams-Cosworth 1m 38.428s

9. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Williams-Cosworth 1m 38.428s

10. Vitaly Petrov Russia Renault-Renault 1m 38.523s

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