Silverstone: Sebastian Vettel got his fifth pole in 10 qualifying sessions this season Saturday, at the British Formula One Grand Prix, in another display of Red Bull speed.
The German Vettel beat team-mate Mark Webber and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso for his 10th career top placing on the grid on a sunny afternoon.
McLaren and their home boys enjoyed mixed results. While championship leader Lewis Hamilton came fourth, the title-holder Jenson Button struggled with the setup and had to settle for 14th, making a first career home victory almost impossible for him.
But, after already topping all three practice sessions, it was Red Bull in another league yet again as they stormed to their ninth pole of the season, with Vettel now ahead of Webber again at 5-4.
Vettel posted a time of 1 minute 29.615 seconds for the 5.901-kilometres lap. Webber also stayed under 1:30 minutes on 1:29.758, Alonso had 1:30.426 and Hamilton 1:30.556 minutes.
Vettel won the 2009 Silverstone edition from pole and is now coming off a victory from pole two weeks ago in Valencia, Spain.
“I hope we can repeat last year’s story,” said Vettel. “I really like this track and fortunately our car works very well here.
“I hope to enjoy the day (Sunday). The pole is the key. We have a fast car in quali and in the race. I think we can have a great day.”
Webber showed no signs of fear two weeks after his mid-air flip in a terrible crash in Valencia.
“To come here after what happened is not ideal. But I am happy with the result,” said the Australian.
Hamilton leads an eventful season with 127 points into the 10th of 19 races from Button (121), Vettel (115), Webber (103) and Alonso (98) but Vettel could take the championship lead for the first with a third season victory on Sunday.
However, McLaren and Ferrari have shown excellent race speed in recent events and can not be counted out.
“We are competitive and hope to finish well,” said Alonso, who was frustrated by incidents around a safety car phase in Valencia which possibly denied him a podium finish there.
But Hamilton, the only man apart from Webber and Vettel to get a pole this season, was not sure about a happy end for Britain on Sunday.
“In terms of pure pace, it’s impossible to touch Red Bull at the moment,” he said.
Button was downcast as he missed the final qualifying round in a car he named “undriveable.” His engineer apologised via team radio, saying “I am sorry about that,” and team boss Martin Whitmarsh also came to his defence.
“We really made it difficult for Jenson,” said Whitmarsh, as Button did not get all the time he would have needed in a new configuration.