It has been twelve years since a driver last registered four consecutive pole positions at the start of a season.
Back then, it was McLaren driver Mika Hakkinen that claimed the honour – today, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel matched it.
In fact, it was an all Red Bull front row, with Australian pilot Mark Webber alongside the sprightly, albeit a disappointing four-tenths adrift. Considering Vettel crashed during Friday morning practice, causing him to miss the afternoon session too, his best of 1:25.049 was a mighty effort.
So dominant were the Red Bull’s, that they finished their qualifying early, deciding instead to watch the final session unfold before them. Whereas none came near to Vettel’s pace, Nico Rosberg (3rd, Mercedes) and Lewis Hamilton (4th, McLaren) certainly ran Webber close.
Fernando Alonso made it four third row starting places in a row, with Jenson Button a disappointing 6th.
It was a curious day for Ferrari, especially as Alonso’s teammate Felipe Massa opting out of Q3 run to start 10th, but with an extra set of tyres – a decision that could prove to be pivotal in the race.
Down in 7th spot, Vitaly Petrov out-qualified veteran teammate Nick Heidfeld (9th). The Renault pair sandwiched Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher, who crossed the line 1.1 seconds shy of Rosberg in the second silver machine.
Rubens Barrichello missed out on the final part of qualifying by an agonising two-hundredths of-a-second. The Brazilian veteran found himself ousted at the last moment by Heidfeld. The Williams driver did manage to once again out-qualify rookie teammate, Pastor Maldonado. The Venezuelan placed his Williams 14th on the grid, a half second shy of Barrichello.
In between the Williams pair were the two Force India’s, led by Adrian Sutil. The German driver headed fellow Force Indian runner Paul di Resta by only a tenth; however the gap to Q3 appears to be growing for the Silverstone-based squad.
Sergio Perez was the lone Sauber in the second stint of qualifying. The Mexican has not had the most spectacular of weekends, although he did more than enough to get ahead of the Toro Rosso pair of Sebastien Buemi (16th) and Jaime Alguersuari (17th).
As per usual, Lotus were the quicker of the newer teams at the tail end of the field, with Heikki Kovalainen (18th) a clear nine-tenths ahead of teammate Jarno Trulli (19th). It’s a solid result for the green and yellow team as they edge ever closer to the midfield.
Virgin on the other hand hand have not had the most ideal of weekend’s. Jerome d’Ambrosio out-qualified Timo Glock, but a penalty will sadly leave the Belgian starting last.
That gives Hispania’s Vitantonio Liuzzi 20th on the grid alongside Trulli, with Glock and Narain Karthikeyan (Hispania) assuming the eleventh row. Liuzzi running quick than Glock is a big result for the little Spanish team, as they continue to embarrass the Richard Branson-sponsored team.
Kamui Kobayashi suffered from a fuel pump failure at the very beginning of the session, leaving him unable to set a lap time – he will start 23rd, just ahead of d’Ambrosio.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m25.049s 2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m25.454s + 0.405 3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m25.574s + 0.525 4. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m25.595s + 0.546 5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m25.851s + 0.802 6. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m25.982s + 0.933 7. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m26.296s + 1.247 8. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m26.646s + 1.597 9. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m26.659s + 1.610 10. Felipe Massa Ferrari No time Q3 cut-off time: 1m26.740s 11. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m26.764s + 1.154 12. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m27.027s + 1.417 13. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m27.145s + 1.535 14. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m27.236s + 1.626 15. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m27.244s + 1.634 16. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m27.255s + 1.645 17. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m27.572s + 1.962 Q3 cut-off time: 1m28.321s 18. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m28.780s + 1.767 19. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m31.119s + 2.106 20. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m30.692s + 3.679 21. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m30.813s + 3.800 22. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m31.564s + 4.551 23. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari No time 24. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m30.445s (5-place penalty) 107% time: 1m33.103s