Sebastian Vettel maintained the impressive form he showed in practice by comfortably securing pole position in his Red Bull for Sunday’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
The German, the only driver apart from world championship leader Jenson Button to win a Formula One race this season, finished nearly four tenths of a second quicker than Button’s Brawn GP team-mate Rubens Barrichello, with the other Red Bull of Mark Webber third on the grid. Button, who leads the standings by 26-points after dominating the season with six victories from seven races, is down in sixth place — his worse qualifying of the season — to the disappointment of home supporters. He was left languishing almost 0.8 seconds behind Vettel and the Briton also has Toyota’s Jarno Trulli and Kazuki Nakajima in his Williams ahead of him, with the Japanese qualifying in a career-high fifth place. There was futher woe for the passionate Silverstone crowd, with world champion Lewis Hamilton — who won last year’s race with a superb display in wet conditions — qualifying in a career-low 19th on the grid to continue his dismal season. Hamilton’s chances were scuppered by a nasty-looking accident involving Adrian Sutil in his Force India, leading to the session being red-flagged with 24 seconds remaining.
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This meant the McLaren driver was prevented from improving on his time, although close-friend Sutil was fortunate to walk away unscathed after careering into a tire wall when his brakes appeared to falter. “I did the best I could,” Hamilton told BBC TV. “I was pushing on that last lap, as hard as I could, but it was nothing special. We were just dead slow. “The race is over, but we’ll keep fighting and hopefully put on a good show for the fans. I’ve had incredible support from them. They’re the ones that really get me through it.” Behind Button, the top 10 is completed by Williams’ Nico Rosberg, Timo Glock for Toyota, the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso for Renault.
A number of big guns were knocked out in the 15-minute Q2 session, led by Ferrari’s Felipe Massa who starts 11th when he appeared on course to make the top 10 at least. BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica qualified 12th, followed by the McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen, Nelson Piquet in his Renault — out-qualified by team-mate Alonso for the 26th consecutive race — and the second BMW of Nick Heidfeld.