Mark Webber secures pole at Nurburgring

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The Independent Online

Mark Webber secured back-to-back pole positions for the first time in 14 months to leave Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel in the shade at the Nurburgring.

The surprise is that Lewis Hamilton managed to split the Red Bull pair and will line up second for tomorrow's German Grand Prix, the 26-year-old missing out on pole by just 0.065secs.

Hamilton remarked yesterday he did not have a chance of securing top spot on the grid, but the Briton produced a storming display to grab a front-row place for the first time since the second race of this season in Malaysia.

Remarkably for Vettel, it is the first time in 15 races - since last year's Italian Grand Prix in September - that the reigning world champion is not on the front row.

Ferrari pair Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa start fourth and fifth, split by half a second, with Mercedes' Nico Rosberg sixth in their home race.

Hamilton's McLaren team-mate Jenson Button is down in seventh, finishing over a second behind his fellow countryman.

Force India's Adrian Sutil lines up a season-high eighth for Force India, with Renault's Vitaly Petrov ninth and Michael Schumacher 10th in his Mercedes.

Nick Heidfeld found himself missing the cut for the top 10 by just 0.035secs in his Renault, leaving the German 11th alongside Paul di Resta in his Force India, the Scot adrift by almost 0.4secs.

Pastor Maldonado again managed to out-qualify more experienced Williams team-mate Rubens Barrichello, the Venezuelan pipping the Brazilian by 0.4secs to line up 13th and 14th respectively.

Sauber's Sergio Perez starts a par-for-the-course 15th ahead of Toro Rosso duo Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari in 16th and 17th.

Just two weeks after qualifying a career-high eighth in the British Grand Prix, Kamui Kobayashi was the man who found himself squeezed out at the end of the opening 20-minute qualifying session.

Instead, Kobayashi will start 18th, his second-worst grid position of the year, and then only because in Turkey he suffered an engine issue just as he set out in Q1 that resulted in him lining up 24th.

Behind the Sauber driver is Team Lotus' Heikki Kovalainen, 1.8secs adrift of Kobayashi, with Virgin Racing's Timo Glock 20th, another 0.8secs behind the Finn.

In his first qualifying session for Team Lotus, and his first for a year after being ousted from Hispania Racing last season, Karun Chandhok starts 21st, managing to respectably finish within a second of team-mate Kovalainen.

Jerome D'Ambrosio in his Virgin starts 22nd, with Hispania pair Vitantonio Liuzzi and Daniel Ricciardo occupying the back row, the latter in his second grand prix finishing just 0.025secs adrift of his team-mate.

However, the duo will swap places due to Liuzzi's car requiring an unscheduled gearbox change, incurring a five-place grid penalty.

Webber, who secured his maiden pole and win at this track two years ago, said: "My form has been getting a little better over the last few races, and yeah, this circuit is quite good for me.

"The boys have done a great job with the car, they have had a few late nights, and they have done well.

"Personally, I couldn't have done any more. I was on the complete limit, so to be on pole is very satisfying."

Hamilton was beaming like a Cheshire cat, saying his lap was as "as good as it gets".

Hamilton added: "Firstly huge congratulations to my team, what a fantastic effort.

"We brought some new updates here, there has been a constant push, and I definitely underestimated how the car would be on low fuel.

"The lap was flowing. It was one of the happiest and comforting laps I've had. It felt incredible.

"To be honest, this is beyond my wildest expectations. I wasn't expecting the car to feel so great. I found really good balance with the set-up.

"I don't think anybody imagined we would be this close to the Red Bulls, never mind splitting them."

Despite the high standards he has set this season, Vettel claimed starting tomorrow's race third on the grid was "not really a disappointment".

He added: "I'd like to be further up, of course, but it was a tough session, and a very good recovery from where I was yesterday.

"We should have been a bit quicker, but there wasn't much missing compared to Lewis and Mark, just a little bit here and there."