Vettel on pole for Chinese Grand Prix
Defending F1 world champion continues his season of perfection as teammate Mark Webber goes out in Q1.
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2011 14:12
Not such good news for Vettel's teammate Mark Webber who will start in 18th place [GALLO/GETTY]

Defending world champion Sebastian Vettel continued his perfect start to the Formula One season by qualifying for pole position for Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix. 

The German driver clocked up the fastest lap ever recorded at the Shanghai circuit, earning his third straight pole of the season, and clocking up a time of one minute 33.706 seconds, seven-tenths of a second quicker than McLaren's Jenson Button who qualified ahead of his teammate Lewis Hamilton.

"We did it again,'' Vettel said.

"I keep reminding myself and the team that it is always tough.''

But it wasn't all good news for Red Bull. Vettel's Red Bull teammate Mark Webber suffered another dreadful day and was unable to improve on 18th place from early on in qualifying, almost three seconds back from the championship leader.

Playing it cool

"It all starts from zero again tomorrow,'' said Vettel, who took pole in China for the third straight year.

"All it is is eight metres (advantage) tomorrow.

"We have reason to feel good, but it's also a threat to feel too good and I will pay attention that that doesn't happen.''

It was Vettel's 18th career pole position, bringing him level with Hamilton, former world champion Mario Andretti and Rene Arnoux in equal 12th on the all-time list.

Jenson Button, the 2009 champion who won at the Shanghai circuit last year did one lap more than teammate Lewis Hamilton, who completed a trio of champions in the top three slots, in the final third stage of qualifying but that also left his compatriot with one more set of fresh tyres for the race.

"Sebastian was just too fast...if I had realised Sebastian was seven tenths up the road, maybe I would have thought again," he said.

While Vettel celebrated his 18th career pole, team mate Webber was left staring at 18th place on the grid and wondering where his luck had gone.

"I don't know the last time a Red Bull guy was out in Q1 but it's been a long time. We didn't do it last year for sure," he said.

"There's a lot more people worse off than me, mate," he added when asked if he felt 'cursed'.

"So I'm not beating myself up too much."

'Rotten luck'

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner recognised the championship-winning team had got it wrong.

"It's been a dreadful day for Mark today. He had some electrical problems this morning and it was a massive effort to get the car ready," he said.

"It was the team's call. He's just had rotten luck this weekend and I'm sure he can race very well from there."

Germany's Nico Rosberg completed the second row for Mercedes with Ferrari's Spaniard Fernando Alonso and Brazilian Felipe Massa qualifying fifth and sixth in another tough afternoon for the Italian team.

Alonso said he had not expected much more, with the placings representing "the maximum we can aspire to in our current situation.

"We already knew all about Red Bull and McLaren but here we saw an improvement from Mercedes, so the situation is now even more difficult," he added.

Dry conditions were forecast for Sunday's race. Pirelli motorsport chief Paul Hembery said "the leading runners are likely to opt for a two-stop strategy, but there is a possibility of some teams trying for one or three

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