Vettel takes pole, as Button falters in qualifying | india | Hindustan Times
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Vettel takes pole, as Button falters in qualifying

German Sebastian Vettel grabbed the fourth pole position of his career on Saturday when he survived a powerful challenge from his Red Bull team-mate Australian Mark Webber in qualifying for the British Grand Prix.

india Updated: Jun 20, 2009 22:45 IST

German Sebastian Vettel grabbed the fourth pole position of his career on Saturday when he survived a powerful challenge from his Red Bull team-mate Australian Mark Webber in qualifying for the British Grand Prix.

The 21-year-old tyro, who shot to prominence by taking pole and winning last year's Italian Grand Prix with the unsung Toro Rosso team, clocked a best time of one minute and 19.509 seconds in the top-ten shootout.

This lifted him clear of veteran Brazilian Rubens Barrichello in a Brawn GP car who took second ahead of Webber, who pushed hard to seize his first career pole. For Vettel it was a second pole in succession and his third this year.

Championship leading Briton Jenson Button in the second Brawn was sixth fastest after struggling for balance and tyre performance in the cold conditions.

Italian Jarno Trulli was fourth for Toyota and Japanese Kazuki Nakajima was fifth for Williams ahead of Button.

Vettel was out early on in the top-ten shootout Q3 and delivered a time of one minute and 20.863 seconds to go top for Red Bull before he was supplanted by Barrichello for Brawn GP and then Webber, who jumped clear by four-tenths of a second.

It was a hotly-contested session with little more than a second separating the top ten drivers midway through Q3 as they delayed briefly for fresh tyres in readiness for their final runs.

The Australian was unable to improve on his first hot lap and Barrichello and then Vettel took over at the top and despite giving it his all on his second run Webber had to settle for third.

On a cool and cloudy day, following overnight rain, the air temperature was only 16 degrees Celsius and the track temperature just 25 degrees, conditions that were not warm enough to allow the Brawn GP cars to get their tyres up to a good working temperature.

"It's a typical English early summer's day I suppose," said Brawn's boss Ross Brawn. "We would have liked Bridgestone to have brought the softer tyres with them, but we have to make the best of it."

The first session, Q1, was brought to a premature halt when German Adrian Sutil crashed at Abbey curve in his Force India car, the impact rupturing the right front side of the car and tearing off a wheel.

It was a big impact at 200 kph but the driver was unhurt.

The crash meant that when Sutil climbed from his car and the red flags were shown, his best friend among the drivers, world champion Hamilton, was condemned to start from the back row of the grid again.

Hamilton had been on a hot lap in his McLaren when the session was red-flagged and had no time to return to the track and recover with a faster lap.

This meant that the five drivers eliminated at the end of the first mini-session were Sebastien Buemi of Switzerland in his Toro Rosso, Hamilton, Sutil, Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais of Toro Rosso and veteran Italian Giancarlo Fisichella in the second Force India.

Hamilton, victorious in last year's rain-swept British race on the way to winning the world title, was philosophical afterwards.

He said: "That's it for me and my chances of winning are over, but I gave it my best shot, I pushed the car as hard as I could. But I have had brilliant support here from the fans for the last two days and that has really got me through.

"I will fight as much as I can as always and see what happens. Just push and hope! I hope I can do something for the fans."

Webber had outpaced his Red Bull team-mate Vettel at the top of the times in Q1 and he soon went out in Q2 and nailed the top spot again in the early minutes. Clearly intent to rub home his advantage, in pursuit of his maiden pole, Webber was apparently content to sit on his time of 1:18.209 in readiness for the top-ten shootout. But he was pipped in the final seconds when Vettel went top in 1:18.119.