Webber takes Barcelona pole


Sebastian Vettel no doubt took the wind out of his rivals sails - and even his teammate's - when he posted the fastest time in a bust free practice session.

Nothing unusual about the German being quickest you might but think, but the fact is that the world champion only completed one flying lap. When you consider that in Turkey, despite limited running in most of the practice sessions, the German took pole and followed it up with a lights to flag victory.

With Teammate Webber finishing second, having dominated both of yesterday's sessions, Red Bull must be feeling mighty confident, unlike a number of their rivals.

Mercedes continues to look good with Michael Schumacher looking a lot better here in Spain this weekend than he did in Istanbul two weeks ago.

Alonso's claim that his car is undriveable will have disheartened his team as much as his fans, the Spaniard and his teammate affected not only by the banning of a new rear wing but also the introduction of Pirelli's new hard compound.

The new tyre has brought a mixed reaction from the drivers, some loving it, most loathing it. Few, if any, drivers are going to be using it during Q1 this afternoon, and they will want to use it for the shortest period possible tomorrow afternoon. However, the drivers are strictly limited by the amount of option tyres available which means they will need to compromise. But when and how?

Other than Vettel's sole hot lap this morning the other drama was Nick Heidfeld's truly hot lap, the German sidelined when his Renault caught fire. The problem has been traced to an exhaust failure, the British team quick to state that it had nothing to do with blown diffuser technology. The crew works frantically to repair the German's car in order that he can play a part in this afternoon's activity, fitting a new engine and gearbox.

While Ferrari is struggling, certainly this morning, Sauber looks to have taken a step forward, edging ahead of Williams and Toro Rosso. Williams has opted not to use its new floor after yesterday's running proved inconclusive, while only Barrichello is running the new wing.

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button finished fourth and fifth this morning, however, both drivers are clearly unhappy with the tyre situation - surprising when one considers Jenson's reputation for tyre management.

As the lights go green for Q1, the air temperature is 24 degrees and the track temperature is 33 degrees. It remains bright and sunny.

In the Renault garage Heidfeld chats to Bruno Senna, the German keeping an eye on his crew as it works to ready his car in time.

Karthikeyan gets the session underway, the Indian cheered on by the crowd, this being Hispania's home race. He is followed by Petrov, Liuzzi and d'Ambrosio.

Karthikeyan posts 28.981 but this is immediately beaten by teammate Liuzzi, the Italian posting 28.851. Moments later, a 28.823 sees Petrov take the top spot.

On his second flying lap, Petrov improves to 26.107 as Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Massa and Schumacher al leave the pits, all on the harder rubber.

Petrov raises the ante with a 25.621 but Button is on a hot lap, going quickest in the first two sectors. At the line the 2009 world champion posts 24.708 while Rosberg goes fifth and Schumacher seventh.

Webber goes quickest in the first two sectors, crossing the line at 23.938, as Alonso posts 25.833 to take fourth. Vettel posts 29.368 on his first flying lap, improving to second (24.274) on his second.

Webber posts 23.619 as Alguersuari - on softs - takes second with a 24.049. Hamilton complains of massive understeer. Nonetheless, the Englishman posts 24.370 to go fourth.

Despite going quickest in S1, Vettel fails to improve, while Buemi - on softs like his toro Rosso teammate - goes second with a 23.962.

With 7:15 on the clock there is still no sign of Heidfeld. Both Saubers still to post a time - though they are on track.

Kobayashi goes quickest in S2, crossing the line at 23.656 to take second. Moments later, teammate Perez posts 24.209 to go sixth.

Petrov is back on track on softs, the Russian immediately going quickest in the first sector. Schumacher leaves the pits wearing a set of option tyres.

Petrov is quickest in S2 also, crossing the line at 23.069, as Alonso also decides to make another run, like Schumacher, on softs.

Maldonado posts 23.406 to go second, leaving di Resta in the danger zone along with poor old Heidfeld. 1:50 on the clock.

Schumacher posts 22.960 to go quickest as Heidfeld finally runs out of time.

Massa goes quickest in S1 as di Resta improves to tenth with a 24.332. Rosberg goes fifth only to be demoted by Massa, the Brazilian posting 23.506.

Trulli, Barrichello, Glock, Liuzzi, Karthikeyan, d'Ambrosio and Heidfeld fall at the first hurdle, while Schumacher was quickest, ahead of Petrov, Maldonado, Alonso, Massa, Rosberg, Webber, Kobayashi, Buemi and Alguersuari.

A magnificent performance from Kovalainen who gets Lotus into Q2. However, the big talking point ahead of the second phase is why Ferrari and Mercedes opted to do another run on softs while their rivals wisely chose to save theirs for Q3. Then again, some say the new rules mean that qualifying isn't as important as it used to be, certainly not at this circuit.

The lights go green signalling the start of Q2, however, it is a couple of minutes before the first engine fires up. Surprisingly, it is Vettel (softs) who gets proceedings underway. He is followed, shortly after, by Webber and Alguersuari.

As Vettel begins his first flying lap, more and more drivers pour onto the track. It is thought that most will only complete one run in this phase.

Vettel crosses the line at 21.540, the German not using his KERS. Moments later Webber posts 21.773 to go second having been quickest overall in S3. Alguersuari posts 24.091.

Massa takes third with a 23.026 but is instantly demoted by both Button (22.050) and Hamilton (22.148). Ron Dennis watches the monitors from the McLaren garage.

Perez can only manage 24.129, which puts him ninth, as teammate Kobayashi goes eighth with a 23.702.

With 5:30 on the clock, Schumacher, Maldonado, Sutil, di Resta and Kovalainen have yet to post a time. Vettel sits in his cockpit reading a data print out.

Alonso posts 22.813 to go fifth while teammate Massa takes sixth (23.026). Moments later they are both demoted when Rosberg goes fifth with a 22.569.

Petrov takes seventh with a 22.948 as Kovalainen is the last driver to leave the pits.

Schumacher goes sixth with a 22.671, thereby pushing Massa down to ninth. All we need is an improvement from the Saubers and the Ferrari driver could be in trouble.

Maldonado posts 22.854 to go eighth and drop Massa to tenth. All eyes on Kobayashi, Perez, di Resta and Sutil.

Perez can only manage twelfth while Kovalainen edges ahead of the Force Indias. Kobayashi aborts his lap, which though bad news for Sauber is great news for Massa and Ferrari.

We lose Buemi, Perez, Alguersuari, Kobayashi, Kovalainen, di Resta and Sutil.

Quickest was Vettel, ahead of Webber, Button, Hamilton, Rosberg, Schumacher, Alonso, Maldonado, Petrov and Massa.

The lights go green for Q3, and one has a feeling that we are going to see pretty much the same as we saw in Turkey, certainly with the Red Bulls. At the back of the garage Dietrich Mateschitz chats with Gerhard Berger.

Button is first out, followed by Hamilton and then Vettel. All, naturally, on a brand new set of softs.

At the first split, Vettel is already half-a-second up on the McLarens. Button crosses the line at 21.996, Hamilton 21.961 but Vettel obliterates them both with a 21.181.

Having gone quickest in the final two sectors, Webber takes provisional pole with a 20.981, the Australian edging out his teammate for the first time this year. Replay shows a massive lock-up for Hamilton which not only ruined his lap but will compromise him in the opening stint of tomorrow's race.

With less than three minutes on the clock, Alonso, Massa, Rosberg, Schumacher, Petrov and Maldonado have yet to post a time. Interestingly, Schumacher is on the hard tyre.

Vettel and Webber climb from their cars, seemingly confident that their day's work is done. The German not looking particularly happy.

Schumacher pits, which means he will start tenth tomorrow on whatever tyres he chooses to use.

Maldonado posts 22.952 to go fifth but is instantly leapfrogged by Rosberg (22.599).

Alonso splits the McLarens with a 21.964 to go fourth. Teammate Massa can only manage 22.888 which puts him eighth. Petrov takes sixth with a 22.471 demoting Rosberg to seventh.

Once again, the Red Bulls are in a league of their own, Webber just under a second quicker than third-placed Hamilton.

An interesting session, but sadly the new rules in terms of tyres and strategy means that there is no real climax to the session, those fans of a certain age recalling the days of the last minute assault from Ayrton Senna and the Mike Hakkinen.

Webber takes pole, his first since Spa Francorchamps last year, ahead of Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, Button, Petrov, Rosberg, Massa, Maldonado an Schumacher.

Buemi is eleventh, ahead of Perez, Alguersuari, Kobayashi, Kovalainen, di Resta, Sutil, Trulli, Barrichello, Glock, Liuzzi, Karthikeyan, d'Ambrosio and Heidfeld.

To check out our Barcelona qualifying gallery, click here.

Article from Pitpass (http://www.pitpass.com):

Published: 21/05/2011
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