HindustanTimes Mon,22 Dec 2014
Vettel leads closely packed rivals
Valencia, June 23, 2012
First Published: 19:06 IST(23/6/2012)
Last Updated: 02:13 IST(24/6/2012)
Red Bull Racing's German driver Sebastian Vettel leaves the pits at the Valencia Street Circuit in Valencia during the third practice race of the European Formula One Grand Prix. AFP/Tom Gandolfini

Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the European Grand Prix at the Valencia street cicruit after outqualifying Lewis Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado in an incredibly close qualifying session where the second fastest to tenth fastest driver in the classification was seperated by just 0.582 seconds.

The German set a time of 1:38.086 in his Red Bull very late in Q3, which shaded Hamilton's McLaren by 0.324 seconds.

Williams' Maldonado returned to the top three for the first time since qualifying second fastest in the Spanish GP in Barcelona (which eventually became pole). The Venezuelan's form has been erratic this year but he managed to pip the Lotus of Romain Grosjean by just 0.065 seconds on the second row of the starting grid.

Mark Webber's elimination in Q1 was the biggest surprise of qualifying as the Australian struggled to post competitive times and could only managed 19th place.

Q2 also threw up a few surprises with the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa along with Michael Schumacher's Mercedes being eliminated.

The Force Indias of Paul Di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg looked good for a top five starting slot through the first two sessions as well before they ended up eighth and 10th fastest.

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