Barcelona: Mark Webber snatched the initiative and pole position from his Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel today when the pair blitzed all their rivals in qualifying for Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.
The 33-year-old Australian dug deep into his competitive reserves to beat the baby-faced 22-year-old tyro by just a sliver more than one-tenth of a second as Red Bull pulverized all their opposition.
Defending champion Briton Jenson Button was so humbled by the speed of the two Red Bulls he predicted Sunday’s 66-laps race would be “a walk in the park” for them.
Webber, who was left disappointed and frustrated by his failure to win from pole in Malaysia last month, clearly revelled in his gritty and speedy showing.
He said: “Christian Horner (Red Bull team boss) told me before the session ‘you probably won’t get to drive a car like this around this track very often - so go and enjoy it!’
“Well, I did. It was a sensational quali session for me. Now I just have to go and complete the job. It has been a terrific effort by the whole team on both sides of the garage.”
Vettel was generous in his praise of the older man.
“I did my best, but it was not enough so congratulations to Mark. He did a really great lap,” he said.
It was Webber’s second pole performance this season and the third of his career as the Red Bull team extended their impressive run of speed by claiming their fifth pole in succession in this year’s five events.
They have also had a car on the front row of the grid in 10 of the last 11 races, a statistic that underlines their progress since the decline of the Brawn GP team (now Mercedes) mid-way through last season.
On top of that, it is their third front row lockout this season in which, Webber may not wish to remember, a pole-sitting driver has yet to turn that advantage into a victory.
In the fifth race weekend of the 2010 season, but the first in Europe, Red Bull swept their rivals aside, Webber clocking a best lap of one minute and 19.995 seconds to take pole. It was the first sub-1.20 lap of the weekend.
Briton Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 champion, was third fastest for McLaren ahead of his former team-mate and rival two-times champion and home hero Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari.
But they were both a second adrift of the Red Bulls’ pace.
Hamilton said: “I don’t think anyone expected them to be so fast. It’s a decent gap! But we’ll continue to push and try to pull this round.”
Button, struggling with a little understeer, was fifth in the second McLaren and seven-times champion German Michael Schumacher, 41, maintained his revival by taking sixth for Mercedes.
This left him ahead of his 17-years-junior team-mate and compatriot Nico Rosberg for the first time this year after outpacing him in all sessions so far this weekend.
Button said: “We were struggling yesterday and we didn’t think we’d be where we are now. I made a mistake in turn eight, which is frustrating, but even so, I think this is alright. It’s not a bad place to start.
“But the Red Bulls are going to be very difficult to beat. Lewis was a tenth in front of me, but still nine-tenths down on Webber. This should be a walk in park for the Red Bulls. If it’s dry, it probably will be.”
Pole Robert Kubica was seventh for Renault ahead of Rosberg, who was eighth, with Brazilian Felipe Massa ninth in the second Ferrari and Japanese Kamui Kobayashi of Sauber snatching a remarkable 10th on the grid, thanks to a spirited effort in Q2.