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Hungarian GP 2011

JULY 30, 2011

Qualifying Report - Vettel takes pole in close Hungaroring fight

Sebastian Vettel, Hungarian GP 2011
© Martin Trenkler, for

Sebastian Vettel (1:19.815) claimed pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix with a great Q3 last run that was sufficient to pip Nurburgring winner Lewis Hamilton (1:19.978) who starts from the other front row slot.

"It was a really good session because yesterday the McLaren boys were a bit quicker than us," Vettel said. "We changed a lot overnight and this is best way to say thanks because the guys didn't get back to the hotel until 5am. My confidence is back and I feel more comfortable in the car."

Suspension changes were among the mods made to Vettel's RB7, presumably to work the tyres more, and although it is not as hot as often the case in Hungary, the temperature was higher than either Friday practice or at the two previous races. Vettel said that it's difficult to know whether that explains the variation in the Red Bull performance.

"I think conditions last weekend at Nurburgring were difficult," he added. "Silverstone and Germany were not hot and here, normally, it's 10 degrees more. At Nurburgring I was struggling to match the pace, yesterday was not ideal but today felt better and I noticed the difference straightaway this morning. Last year our car was very competitive here last but this year the margin is not as big."

Hamilton did just the one Q2 run on the prime tyre, saving a new set of options for the race, ending up just five hundredths clear of McLaren team mate Jenson Button (1:20.024).

"That's good, but it won't be a huge advantage," he said, "although I'm hopeful that we will be able to challenge Sebastian in the race as well."

Button was pretty happy with his third place. "You always think there's a little bit more here and there but it's great to be up to third because qualifying has been my problem of late. A lot of races that have looked straightforward this year have not been, due to tyres, KERS and DRS, so when you're so close to the front you have to be aiming for a win. We made some good set-up tweaks overnight and I played a bit with it throughout qualifying. When I got a bit more front end in the car I gained about half a second."

Felipe Massa (1:20.350) lines up the quicker Ferrari driver for the first time this year, just a hundredth quicker than Fernando Alonso (1:20.365), who could not match his Q2 time.

After two successive pole positions, Mark Webber (1:20.474) contemplates Sunday afternoon from sixth on the grid after a problematic session in which he only had KERS for his final Q3 run.

"The 'out' laps are important (relative to tyre warm-up)," the Aussie explained "and the situation with McLaren is that they can cruise but we need more pace. I found myself behind JB (Button) and he wasn't going to let me by, which is fair enough. Also I had KERS for the first time but I was early on the DRS button. I saw the speed through the timing beam and it was about the same, which I thought was okay, but of course I should have been much quicker with the benefit of DRS and KERS. It meant that my first sector was a disaster but from T5 to the end of the lap, my time was identical to Seb's."

Webber confirmed that his own crew had been working to 3.30am but that he'd been happier than his team mate wit the car on Friday and did not elect to go the same route with suspension changes.

There was then a 0.62s gap to Nico Rosberg's Mercedes (1:21.098), with Adrian Sutil's Force India eighth (1:21.907), Michael Schumacher ninth (1:21.907) and Sergio Perez (1:21.907) completing the Q3 runners.