Vettel flies to pole on very little wing
Sunday 11 September 2011
Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid yesterday, but as they looked over at pole position their repeated question was not so much "Who are those guys?" but "How come those guys are so quick?"
Yet again, Sebastian Vettel had planted his Red Bull on the premier position, for the 10th time this season and the 25th of his career, but this was a circuit on which such a feat had not been expected, and certainly not by the margin of half a second that the German opened up as he made a second run in the final session while the two McLaren drivers aborted theirs.
After their first runs the world champion had been quickest at 1min 22.613sec from Hamilton on 1:22.725 and Button on 1:22.777. But as Vettel went on to trim off that crucial half-second, to take pole in 1:22.275, the silver cars were instead headed for the pits.
"We thought it would be much closer than that," Vettel admitted. "We made a bit of an improvement already for the first run but then I made a bit of a mistake.
"I knew there was a bit more time in the car, and there were a couple of cars ahead down the straight which always helps at Monza because of the slipstream, but I didn't think of being on pole by that margin after the track didn't suit us the past two years.
"It's very slippery on low downforce here but we were able to put it all together, so I'm very happy. I had the feeling I got everything together, not asking too much but also not asking too little."
So where did that big speed come from?
Button was puzzled. "These guys aren't carrying much wing but are still faster than us, so it's difficult to understand and something we need to look at," he mused. "It's not been a perfect day for our team today, but it wasn't a bad one, either."
Vettel's schoolboy smile lit up. "It's not just down to wings," he offered, "but this year the most important thing here apart from wing level is to have the balance, and we have that this year and I felt very comfortable straight away in qualifying.
"The car's been working great and we've been working very hard to make up ground on circuits that don't suit us. That's the secret if there is any."
While Button said that his second lap just wasn't going to be fast enough, Hamilton admitted that he had locked a wheel going into the second chicane, and had thus aborted. But in any case he didn't believe that pole was within his reach.
"I don't think so," he said. "I didn't have another half-second in the bag, perhaps a couple of tenths. Clearly we are very competitive and being up here is a great step, but Seb was mega quick this weekend. We've been quick all weekend, but his was amega lap."
So Red Bull won the battle, but the McLaren drivers still think they can win the war this afternoon.
"It's not so bad, the time difference from first to third," Button said. "Seb said that Red Bull have been 'racey' in their approach for the race and I think I know what he means. We've gone the same way, and I think we have made the right choices of wing level and gearing, so I think it's going to be pretty good.
"I don't think that they are going to have it all their way, it's going to be an exciting race."
1. S Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1min22.27 sec; 2. L Hamilton (GB) McLaren 1:22.725; 3. J Button (GB) McLaren 1:22.777; 4. F Alonso (Sp) Ferrari 1:22.841; 5. M Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1:22.972; 6. F Massa (Br) Ferrari 1:23.188; 7. V Petrov (Rus) Renault 1:23.530; 8. F Alonso(Sp) Ferrari (Ger) Mercedes 1:23.777; 9. N Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes1:24.477; 10. B Senna (Br) Renault 1:24.157; 11. P Di Resta (GB) Force India 1:24.163; 12. A Sutil (Ger) Force India 1:24.209; 13. R Barrichello (Br) Williams 1:24.648; 14. P Maldonado (Ven) Williams 1:24.726; 15. S Perez (Mex) Sauber 1:24.845; 16. S Buemi (Swit) Toro Rosso 1:24.932; 17. K Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber 1:25.065; 18. J Alguersuari (Sp) Toro Rosso, 1:25.334; 19. J Trulli (It) Lotus 1:26.647; 20. H Kovalainenn (Fin) Lotus, 1:27.184; 21. T Glock (Ger) Virgin 1:27.591; 22. J D'Ambrosio (Bel) Virgin 1:27.609; 23. D Ricciardo (Aus) Hispania 1:28.054; 24. V Liuzzi (It) Hispania 1:28.331.
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