Red Bull 1-2 Again in Qualifying

Red Bull

Defending champion Sebastian Vettel earned his fifth pole position of the season during qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix, leading teammate Mark Webber to capture a third consecutive front-row lockout for the Red Bull team.

After a minor hiccup on his first lap of Q3, the World Champion made amends and finally emerged onto the track with only a few minutes to go. The German jumped to the front of the pack with a time of 1 minute, 25 seconds, edging his teammate Mark Webber by 0.044 seconds to claim his 35th pole of his career.

“Pole is the best place to start from, so I’m happy with that,” Vettel said. “We had a good qualifying session and a good weekend so far with no car issues. My first attempt in Q3 wasn’t great, I was a bit too greedy with braking into Turn Four, but after that we had a good second run and it was enough pole. McLaren, Ferrari and Lotus look competitive in race trim, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow - they will be pushing hard.”

Webber squandered his final run at challenging for outright pole position with a big lock-up in turn 3, and had to settle for second place. Even though both drivers made uncharacteristic mistakes under the pressure of Q3, there was no doubt about the end result as they both convincingly dominated the field and are in the best possible position for Sunday’s race.

McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button finished in third and fourth place respectively, making it an all-McLaren second row for Sundays race. Both McLarens had been way behind the pace during Friday’s practice session, but the margins at the front were not as great as expected, with Webber closer to Vettel than he had been for most of the weekend and the McLarens likewise closer to the Red Bulls. Nevertheless, Hamilton was quite pleased with the outcome, and is confident he can challenge the pace of the Red Bull’s on Sunday.

"We're not quick enough to be ahead of these guys,” Hamilton said, “but we can definitely challenge them in the race. Our race pace was just as good as theirs in practice so I'm excited about that."

Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa made it an all Ferrari third row after qualifying in fifth and sixth place. Alonso appeared to have the potential to challenge for a place in the second row, but a wheel locked on his entry to Turn Four on his final qualifying lap and he failed to improve on the time he set on his first run earlier in the top 10 shoot-out.

“We tried to get the most out of what we had, but there was no way we could be ahead of the Red Bulls and McLarens. In the end, fifth place is not so bad, because it would have been easy to end up even further back if anything had gone wrong.”

Clearly, finishing ahead of Red Bull is our aim, but today it was impossible to fight them, at least in qualifying: when we had a similar car, it was possible to fight with Vettel and we have even been ahead of them, but now we are fighting against Newey and, at the moment we cannot match him. We brought some updates here which have worked as we expected, but the others have also improved over these past two weeks: it’s down to us to bring something more significant for the final three races.”

Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen will start alongside Saubers Sergio Perez, while Williams driver Pastor Maldonado did well to get through to Q3 and will start alongside Nico Rosberg from Mercedes, who opted not to set a flying lap in the final part of qualifying in order to maximize his available tire strategies for the race.

Raikkonen’s teammate Romain Grosjean had a disappointing outing, as the Frenchman failed to reach the top-ten shootout and will start in 11th place, while Force India’s Paul di Resta had a similarly poor day, recording his worst qualifying performance in over a year as he ended up in 16th place.

The Indian Grand Prix is set to start on Sunday at 5:30 a.m. (ET).

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