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Motor Racing

Vettel captures fourth pole position of the season

Sebastian Vettel will look to end an unhappy trend this year after capturing his fourth pole position this season for tomorrow's European Grand Prix.

From his three previous poles Vettel has failed to win, with his only victory coming from third on the grid in Malaysia.

But on a track which was not expected to suit Red Bull Racing, the team secured their fourth lock-out of the front row as Mark Webber will start second.

A considerable amount of the talk prior to qualifying had centred on the updates the teams had brought to the table for this race.

Red Bull deployed their own version of the f-duct that has been successfully pioneered by McLaren this season.

As for Ferrari, Renault and Mercedes, they were all running the blown diffuser for the first time that has aided Red Bull's cause to such a considerable degree.

But it was Red Bull who again stepped up to the plate, with Vettel beating his team-mate by 0.075secs with a time of one minute 37.587secs to claim Red Bull's eighth pole in nine races.

With McLaren not bringing their version of the blown diffuser until the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in a fortnight, championship leader Lewis Hamilton produced a superb effort to take third.

However, the 25-year-old did blow his final hot lap with a slide into one of the 25 corners, although it appeared he would not have ousted Vettel at that time.

Behind Hamilton come the Ferraris of home hero Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, with Renault's Robert Kubica sixth on the grid, with a struggling Jenson Button seventh in his McLaren.

For only the second time this year Williams managed to get both cars into the top 10, with Nico Hulkenberg pipping last year's winner Rubens Barrichello, with Renault's Vitaly Petrov 10th.

These, though, are dark days for Mercedes who for the first time this season failed to get a car into Q3, a bitter disappointment after Rosberg was fastest in first practice.

Rosberg will start a season-low 12th, whilst Schumacher, who only made it into Q2 with a last-lap charge, continues to fall away as the seven-times champion is a miserable 15th.

The 41-year-old may claim this to be his debut outing, as for the two previous races here he was a man in retirement, but that can be no reasonable excuse for a driver of his experience.

Both Mercedes finished behind Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi, who starts 11th, whilst sandwiched in between are the Force Indias of Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi, both of whom were also expected to be in the top 10.

Behind Schumacher will be the Sauber of Pedro de la Rosa and Jaime Alguersuari in his Toro Rosso.

At the end of the initial 20-minute qualifying session, the odd man out on this occasion was Kamui Kobayashi in his Sauber.

With the usual suspects from Lotus, Virgin and Hispania Racing below Kobayashi, the Japanese will start from 18th on the grid.

Lotus' Jarno Trulli finished 1.3secs behind Kobayashi, who just four weeks ago had qualified in the top 10 in Turkey, but for the second consecutive race was unable to escape Q1.

For the fifth time in nine races Trulli pipped team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, with the Finn followed by Virgin's Lucas di Grassi, the Brazilian finally out-qualifying his team-mate Timo Glock for the first time this season.

Hispania Racing duo Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna again bring up the rear, the latter 4.7secs adrift of Kubica who topped the first session.