Red Bull continue dominance as Webber wins Barcelona pole

Posted on May 21, 2011


Mark Webber has broken the 2011 stranglehold on pole position held by team mate Sebastian Vettel with an excellent qualifying performance.

Kovalainen sprung something of a surprise to get his Lotus up to 15th. Credit: Team Lotus

The Australian laid down a 1m 20.981s to beat the world champion by a tiny margin but it was an important marker. Barcelona was the beginning of a great run for Webber last season and it’s time someone laid down a marker on Vettel.

For everyone else, this was a race to third position. The Red Bull cars continue to have a huge performance advantage and for the moment there seems to be nothing McLaren, Ferrari or Mercedes can do about it. Rule changes on blown diffusers could change the game a little and reduce the gap but, like last season, there is no one thing which is making the Adrian Newey cars faster.

Lewis Hamilton is the best placed man to try and break up the Red Bull’s on Sunday but he has badly flat spotted his front left tyre and will likely struggle early on. Fernando Alonso split the McLaren’s to take fifth – but wasted a set of soft tyres early in qualifying.

Curiously, Michael Schumacher did not set a time in Q3 and did not go out on the soft tyres. He’ll start 10th with an extra set of softs in his pocket clearly hoping and expecting he’ll have the chance to move forward. The legendary champion has not covered himself with glory so far this season but he has an excellent record here, so who knows? He’ll probably start on hard tyres and be able to stop later than the other front runners and sprint for the finish on a couple of new sets of softs.

We saw a great performance from Heikki Kovalainen and the Lotus. He’ll start 15th, the best ever for the team, after taking advantage of a shot at Q2. I think he’ll struggle to move forward tomorrow but stranger things have happened. For the first time, Lotus have an outside chance of points from the start, which is nice.

It is almost impossible to see past a Red Bull car for the win. I think Vettel will get the jump on Webber early doors and, assuming there is no strategy or pitlane foul up, he’ll canter to the line.