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Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel takes pole in Valencia

Sebastian Vettel

Highlights - European GP qualifying

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel claimed pole position for the European Grand Prix on the Valencia street circuit.

The German pipped team-mate Mark Webber by 0.075 seconds as Red Bull took their eighth pole in nine races this year.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was also in contention for pole, but a mistake on his final run left him third.

Local hero Fernando Alonso took fourth place for Ferrari from team-mate Felipe Massa. The second McLaren of Jenson Button will start seventh on the grid.

Button also made a mistake, going into the final corner.

Sebastian Vettel

Vettel satisfied with important pole lap

McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh admitted: "Being realistic the Red Bulls were quicker than us today. Without the mistakes we'd have been a solid second row."

Hamilton said: "I'm really happy to be here (in the top three). We were quite a long way behind in practice.

"My first lap was good. On my second I was a tenth and a half up, and then I lost it into Turn 12 and locked up the rears, and locked the rears later in the lap. I was really surprised to be third."

Button added: "That was really good until the last corner - I locked up, went wide and lost a couple of tenths, which is really disappointing."

Jenson Button and BBC F1 presenter Jake Humphrey

'Frustrating' qualifying for Button

Red Bull did not anticipate a clean sweep of the front row in Valencia. The circuit's long straights and slow corners were not expected to suit the car, which is renowned for aerodynamic strength in faster turns.

Vettel said: "This circuit shouldn't be our strongest but it's good to put the car on pole.

"It was very tough because we reintroduced our 'F-duct' (aerodynamic device) for this weekend and the mechanics had only an hour or two of sleep, so it's good to say thank you and put the cars one and two."

Red Bull team chief Christian Horner added: "This was the race we absolutely didn't expect to be on pole. It (the track) absolutely doesn't suit our car.

"The F-duct has worked really well around here. A lot of effort has gone into analysing the data from that. That kind of team effort is what is getting the performance to the car."


Webber said: "I'm not going to roll out a shopping list of excuses - I wasn't quick enough."

But BBC F1 pundit David Coulthard calculated that the time gap between Vettel and Webber, when converted into distance, was a mere 56.8cm.

Behind the Ferraris, Robert Kubica's Renault faded to take sixth place, although the Pole's time from the second qualifying session would have put him fourth on the grid. Team-mate Vitaly Petrov rounded out the top 10.

For the first time this year, both Williams cars made it through to final qualifying. Nico Hulkenberg claimed eighth on the grid from team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who set exactly the same time as the young German to the thousandth of a second.

Mercedes were the highest-profile casualties of second qualifying. For the first time, neither Nico Rosberg (12th) nor Michael Schumacher (15th) made it through to the final shootout.

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton believes he can build on third

Force India were also disappointed, with Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi 13th and 14th respectively.

Both Mercedes and Force India were beaten by Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi, who followed his strong Canadian Grand Prix performance by taking 11th on the grid.

The race starts on Sunday at 1300 (BST) and can be followed on BBC Two, Radio 5 live and this website.

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see also
I'm here to stay, says Schumacher
26 Jun 10 |  Formula 1
Mercedes not good enough - Brawn
26 Jun 10 |  Formula 1
Ferrari need to improve - Alonso
26 Jun 10 |  Formula 1
European GP qualifying photos
26 Jun 10 |  Formula 1
European GP qualifying as it happened
26 Jun 10 |  Formula 1
Alonso heads European GP practice
25 Jun 10 |  Formula 1
European GP practice photos
25 Jun 10 |  Formula 1
Saturday's F1 gossip column
26 Jun 10 |  Formula 1

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