Vettel destroys rivals to seize Valencia hat-trick
23 June 2012 – Sebastian Vettel has won a third consecutive pole position at the Valencia Street Circuit following a hotly-contested qualifying on Saturday afternoon. Lewis Hamilton will share the front row ahead of Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean. There were a number of surprises earlier in the session, such as Mark Webber being eliminated in Q1 before Michael Schumacher and both Ferraris dropped out of the running in Q2.
As HRT out-qualified Marussia, Heikki Kovalainen impressed by passing through to Q2 for Caterham, helped by a new rear wing; he beat Jean-Éric Vergne and, notably, Mark Webber. Following an installation run to check his car after brake problems in practice, the Australian lost over a full second due to a hydraulic problem which caused his DRS to jam shut. He will start from a very disappointing 19th place on the tight street venue.
Following on from the extremely tight Q2, predicting a pole-sitter was anybody’s guess. That is why Vettel’s superb lap time of 1:38.086, four tenths of a second quicker than Hamilton, came as such a surprise. The Red Bull man now hopes to convert a third successive Valencia pole into as many race victories since 2010. Behind, Hamilton confirmed that the front row is the same as that in Montreal two weeks ago, but admitted that he expected worse.
Sebastian Vettel’s third pole position of 2012 leaves him joint third in the all-time rankings, matching former Champions Jim Clark and Alain Prost on 33 poles. Only Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna now remain ahead of him in the record books.
Sunday’s 2012 European Grand Prix begins at 2pm local time (BST +1) and begins can also be tracked through the interactive GPUpdate.net Live Report