Formula One
Vettel eases to another pole
The German continues to dominate Formula 1 qualifying with his seventh pole of the season at the European Grand Prix.
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2011 14:14
Vettel tops the grid ahead of teammate Webber and Hamilton for the European Grand Prix in Valencia [GALLO/GETTY] 

Knocking reigning champion Sebastian Vettel off pole this season seems to be a near impossible feat.

Jenson Button's victory in the Canadian Grand Prix might have given the German pause for thought, but when it comes to qualifying Vettel remains streets ahead of the pack.

Formula 1's runaway leader eased into another pole position at the European Grand Prix as he helped secure a Red Bull 1-2 in qualifying on Saturday.

Vettel's quickest lap of 1 minute, 36.975 seconds in hot, muggy conditions around Valencia's street circuit was just under two-tenths of a second faster than teammate Mark Webber.

Lewis Hamilton of McLaren starts in third, ahead of Ferrari pair Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, with Jenson Button of McLaren completing the third row.

Vettel's seventh pole in eight races was the 22nd of his career to put himself in position for a sixth victory.

"A very good day for us, good to be on the front row for our team," said Vettel, who leads Button by 60 points in the drivers' standings.

No rain in Spain

Vettel tried to stay cool inside the garage as the track temperature soared to 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) at the America's Cup harbor course, where the 23-year-old set the pace after the halfway point of the 10-minute final session.

Webber, who is third in the standings ahead of Hamilton, overcame a brake balance problem but couldn't surpass his teammate on his final flying lap although Red Bull secured a ninth straight pole stretching to last season.

"I wasn't expecting to be so high after the third practice... We're as close as we can be"

McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton

The Austrian team fills the front row for the third time this season as Vettel looks for a second straight win at the Mediterranean coastal city.

A new regulation change introduced in Valencia forbidding teams from tinkering with the engine between qualifying and the race appeared to have little effect on Red Bull's clear pace advantage.

Hamilton believed uncertainty over pit stop strategy and an uncomfortable medium compound tire could throw up a surprise for Sunday's 57-lap race as the 2008 champion attempts to win at the seaside course after three straight second-place results.

"I wasn't expecting to be so high after the third practice," Hamilton said.

"We're as close as we can be."

Mercedes pair Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher trailed the top three teams while Nick Heidfeld of Renault and Force India's Adrian Sutil were also in the top 10.

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