Sebastian Vettel claimed his fourth pole in a row and his seventh of the season today, as Red Bull Racing enjoyed probably its most dominant qualifying of the year ahead of this Sunday’s F1 2010 Hungarian Grand Prix.
Following Red Bull’s form in practice, there was little doubt it would be a two-horse battle for top spot at the Hungaroring, and in the end it was Vettel who got the most from his Renault-powered RB6, convincingly beating his team-mate, Mark Webber, by more than four tenths of a second.
Vettel had been quickest in Friday practice, and while he had to settle for second to the Aussie in FP3, he seemed to have the measure of him in qualifying, five tenths up in Q1 – on a 1m 20.417s lap – and only 0.042 seconds slower in Q2. When it mattered though, he really stamped his authority on proceedings and was the only man to break the 1 minute 19 second barrier, his pole lap a 1 minute 18.773 seconds.
Webber’s best in Q3, a 1m 19.184s, meanwhile was also significantly quicker than any of their rivals, with Fernando Alonso ‘best of the rest’ in his Ferrari F10, albeit eight tenths slower on a 1m 19.987s.
Felipe Massa, who was badly injured at this race last season and robbed of victory in Germany last Sunday, came fourth in the sister car, while McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton had to settle for fifth. Crucially though, Hamilton was more than 1.5 seconds off the Red Bull’s, although as McLaren boss, Martin Whitmarsh pointed out he was ‘fastest of the fixed wing cars’, a reference to the ‘flexible’ front wings currently being utilised by both Red Bull Racing and Ferrari.
Nico Rosberg rounded out the top six in his Mercedes, half a second off Hamilton and two tenths up on Renault duo Vitaly Petrov and Robert Kubica. Petrov had a fine session and for the record, managed to out-qualify his vastly more experienced team-mate for the first time this season.
Sauber’s Pedro de la Rosa and Williams man Nico Hulkenberg came in ninth and tenth, both managing to edge out Jenson Button, who for the third time did not progress to Q3 and the shoot-out for pole. Button will start eleventh in his McLaren.
Fellow F1 world champion, Michael Schumacher also didn’t make it through the second session, and he was only fourteenth in his Mercedes, leaving the Williams of Rubens Barrichello and Force India’s Adrian Sutil sandwiched in between. Further down the order, Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari took P15 and P17 on the grid, with Vitantonio Liuzzi 16th for Force India.
Kamui Kobayashi was the ‘fall-guy’ in Q3 after traffic meant he failed to make it through in the latter stages. The Sauber ace, a scorer in two of the last three races, found himself held up by Bruno Senna on his last flying lap, and pitted when he realised that his time would not be good enough to progress.
Kobayashi joined the expected sextet from the three newcomer teams in bowing out at the first hurdle, although in a change to the norm, Timo Glock put Virgin Racing ahead of arch rival Lotus with a last-ditch lap that proved good enough to topple Heikki Kovalainen from the ‘division three pole’. Jarno Trulli, Lucas di Grassi, Senna and Sakon Yamamoto complete the line-up for Sunday’s grand prix.