McLarens close but Vettel on pole

By on Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sebastien Vettel pipped both McLarens for pole

Sebastian Vettel grabbed his 14th pole position of the season, equalling the record of Nigel Mansell set in 1992.

Like Mansell, Vettel has a Renault-powered, Adrian Newey-designed car and has only been denied this year by his team-mate and McLaren, though today it was the latter than came closest to catching Vettel, with Lewis Hamilton second and Jenson Button third, ahead of Mark Webber’s second Red Bull.

The four drivers were the only men in the 1m38s bracket. Ferrari were the best of the rest with Alonso fifth and Massa sixth, followed by the Mercedes of Rosberg (seventh) and Schumacher (8th) and the Force Indias to round out the top ten, with Sutil out-qualifying di Resta.

McLaren had looked in good shape to take a second pole position of the season, having topped the timesheets in all three of the practice sessions, Button in FP1 and Hamilton in FP2 and FP3. Hamilton continued his streak by finishing fastest in both Q1 and Q2. He was leading Q3 as the qualifying clock hit 00:00, nine-thousandths of a second ahead of Button but Vettel came around on his last lap to take first spot with a tenth to spare.

"I was not so happy with my first run in Q3, but the second run much happier,” said Vettel in the FIA post-qualifying press conference. “All in all just enough to jump ahead of Lewis who has looked very strong all weekend. It is good that in that session, where it matters on Saturday, we were able to be just that little bit quicker than him.”

Hamilton was phlegmatic in defeat: “It was a good session for me. I think it has been quite a good couple of days to be honest, quite a big improvement for me, I feel, from the last race at least. We were quick, the car has been feeling good, but just at the end there that was as fast as I was really able to get out of my lap. It wasn’t particularly a great lap, the one in Q2 was much better but that’s the way it is and well done to Sebastian, he did a great lap. As always, he is very, very quick but the race is tomorrow, that’s the most important day.”

Button echoed Hamilton’s view: “We’ve got a pretty good race car, I think. We will see tomorrow if that is true or not but it feels that it’s pretty good.” As for equalling Mansell’s record of pole positions, Vettel generously pointed out his task has been a little simpler. “He obviously took two races less to achieve the same but still, it’s something very special. It’s a great feeling, for sure.”

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