Extraordinary pace helps Vettel ease to third 2011 pole

Posted on April 16, 2011

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Sebastian Vettel has stormed to his third pole position of 2011 with a fearsome qualifying time in Shanghai.

Vettel could hardly be further ahead if he had wings. Credit: Red Bull/Getty

The 23-year-old world champion was untouchable again, beating the McLarens of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton into second and third position respectively with a track record of 1m 33.706s.

Arguably the story of the day though was Vettel’s Red Bull team mate Mark Webber being left back in 18th place after a nightmare session. The Australian’s disappointing start to the year took a turn for the worse. His KERS broke before qualifying and the pace was never there. Webber was caught out on hard tyres in Q1.

The McLaren drivers will be happy enough but the gap toVettel is absurd. It’s back up to seven tenths of a second, on a par with Melbourne. Absent some outside intervention of weather or technical failure, they seem to have little chance to catch him.

Mercedes will be pretty pleased to have claimed 4th with Nico Rosberg, ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso in 5th. Michael Schumacher made a mistake on his Q2 run to finish 14th but the Silver Arrows look ok compared to where they have been. With a bit of luck in the race, they can score their first solid points of the year.

Paul Di Resta got his first run in Q3, outqualifying Force India team mate Adrian Sutil yet again. The Scot rookie will start 8th, continuing the excellent start to his career.

The back of the field is exactly what you would expect: Lotus ahead of Virgin and Hispania by some distance. Even Lotus were some way back from the rest of the field and they’ll be disappointed.

Vettel will almost certainly win the race tomorrow. I can see a great battle between the McLaren drivers for second place as Button’s calmness on degrading tyres fights against Hamilton’s raw, unbridled pace. It’s possible to imagine either Rosberg or Alonso nicking third but to be honest I’m not sure they’ll have the race pace.

Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 1 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:35.674 1:34.776 1:33.706 14
2 4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:35.924 1:34.662 1:34.421 13
3 3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.091 1:34.486 1:34.463 11
4 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:35.272 1:35.850 1:34.670 19
5 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:35.389 1:35.165 1:35.119 18
6 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:35.478 1:35.437 1:35.145 18
7 19 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 1:36.133 1:35.563 1:36.158 16
8 15 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:35.702 1:35.858 1:36.190 17
9 18 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:36.110 1:35.500 1:36.203 16
10 10 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:35.370 1:35.149 No time 11
11 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:36.092 1:35.874 14
12 17 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:36.046 1:36.053 16
13 16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:36.147 1:36.236 11
14 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:35.508 1:36.457 16
15 11 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:35.911 1:36.465 15
16 9 Nick Heidfeld Renault 1:35.910 1:36.611 11
17 12 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1:36.121 1:36.956 17
18 2 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:36.468 8
19 20 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1:37.894 7
20 21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1:38.318 10
21 25 Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1:39.119 8
22 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:39.708 8
23 23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1:40.212 9
24 22 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:40.445 9
Q1 107% Time 1:41.941
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