Vettel grabs another pole for Red Bull

VALENCIA, Spain, (Reuters) – Formula One world  champion Sebastian Vettel chalked up his seventh pole position  in eight races this year with a blistering lap as Red Bull swept  the front row for today’s European Grand Prix.   

Australian team mate Mark Webber was second fastest in  yesterday’s qualifying with McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton third and  sharing the second row with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, racing in  front of his home crowd.  

Red Bull have now taken nine poles in a row dating back to  the end of last year, the first team to do so since McLaren in  1998. Vettel’s career tally is 22 poles.  
 
The team’s continued dominance, even if the top six were  within seven-tenths of a second, seemed to make a mockery of  suggestions the champions could suffer from a clampdown by the  governing body on the use of engine electronics and exhaust  gases to influence performance.   

Sebastian Vettel

“People expect us to lose more than others but that’s where  I disagree,” grinned the 23-year-old Vettel who will be chasing  his sixth win of the year around the Mediterranean port city’s  streets.   

The German’s fastest lap of one minute 36.975 seconds was  the fastest ever in Valencia and made pole a foregone conclusion  with minutes still to run on a bright and breezy afternoon.  
 
The crowd could almost feel the resignation of Red Bull’s  rivals looking at the timing screens.   
“I think we’ve said it enough. We’ve come here and we didn’t  expect any different,” said Webber whose sole pole of the season  came in Barcelona in May when Red Bull also swept the front row.   

“Some other teams spoke a lot about it (the rule change),  maybe even some people in our team spoke a bit that maybe  technically are not completely on top of things, but in the end  we’ve just got on with our job,” he told reporters.    
    
BUTTON SIXTH
  
Webber’s time was 0.188 slower than his team mate’s, with  Hamilton’s best effort 1:37.380.   
“We weren’t really — at least I wasn’t — expecting to be  so high up,” said Hamilton whose last two races have been  dominated by collisions and controversy.  

“We’re as close as we can be. This is a track notorious for  being difficult to overtake on … but we’ll see what happens.”   

Brazilian Felipe Massa qualified fifth for Ferrari with  McLaren’s Jenson Button, the winner in Canada two weeks ago and  second overall in the championship 60 points behind Vettel,  lining up sixth.  
 
Mercedes filled the fourth row with Nico Rosberg seventh and  Michael Schumacher eighth after choosing to save tyres and do  just one timed lap in the final session.  
 
“It’s not very good. The car felt pretty good in Q2 (the  second phase) but then in Q3 I had massive oversteer. I don’t  know why but I just couldn’t get any rear grip,” said 2009 world  champion Button.  
 
“The car was great this morning in practice but with the  heat maybe our balance isn’t working because of the track  temperature. I just didn’t expect it. It’s not great but we’ll  still have a good race.”   

The second phase was red flagged and halted for four minutes  after Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado’s Williams was left stranded  on the track with what looked like an engine failure with seven  minutes and 59 seconds remaining.   

Alonso, the double world champion who was on the front row  in Canada and was fastest in Friday practice, said he had not  been surprised by the outcome.   

“Even if there were those outside the team who built up  expectations, within it we were well aware of the situation. The  aim was to fight with the McLarens and we did just that,” he  said.   

“I did not expect that the very slight change introduced to  the rules would change the order of things and that was the  case: Red Bull was and still is the favourite.”

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