Vettel pulls out another rabbit for his hat-trick

Like the master magician able to defy logic and suspend belief, Sebastian Vettel plucked his third successive pole position of the season here yesterday to leave Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton open-jawed.

The McLaren drivers were on the money in the second qualifying session, and Jenson Button in particular believed he had a shot at pole position. But moments after Button had lapped in 1min 34.421sec in the third and final session, Vettel stopped the clock in 1:33.706. Adrian Newey's Red Bull RB7 is the class of the field right now, and that's that.

"It wasn't as straightforward as planned, and I wasn't 100 per cent comfortable in Q2 and made a bit of a mistake," Vettel said. "But I was able to improve quite a lot in Q3."

While Vettel was waving Newey's magic wand, the McLaren drivers effectively reversed their Malaysian strategy. Button went for it, only to be mesmerised by Vettel's conjuring trick. Hamilton, meanwhile, took the strategic route and harvested tyres. Whereas his two rivals made two runs, he made only one, his tyre situation in Malaysia last weekend uppermost in his mind. Such is F1, 2011 style, where qualifying is less important to the overall race picture than it has been for years.

"You always hope that pole is possible but Seb's pace in Q3 was phenomenal," said Button, who was philosophical about Vettel's speed. "After a while I thought 'OK, maybe I'll have to settle for second'. It's my best grid spot of the year so we can be happy with what we achieved. The car was more consistent to drive and we extracted what it had."

Hamilton looked anything but happy. He has looked distracted all weekend, and was a lot less chilled about Vettel's pace than Button. "I decided on just one run because the last race showed how important it is to have fresh tyres in the race," Hamilton said. "In the last race I had only two sets of the softer tyres that I could use, so we had to make sure we had plenty of fresh tyres left.

"I was much happier with the car throughout qualifying. We haven't made much of a step this weekend, but we have some good things in the pipeline. It's gonna be tricky [in the race] but I'm in a decent spot."

If Anthony Hamilton was pleased for his son, he was also chuffed for his new protégé. Though he was celebrating his 25th birthday, it was Scottish rookie Paul di Resta who was giving out the presents to his Force India team as he underlined his great potential by qualifying a superb eighth, well ahead of team-mate Adrian Sutil.

"I couldn't have wished for more," Di Resta said. "Luckily I did my quickest lap in the second running in Q1, as I struggled a bit in the others. Fingers crossed we can pick up points."

Red Bull's Mark Webber dropped out in the first phase of qualifying.

Grid

1. S Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1min 33.706sec; 2. J Button (GB) McLaren 1:34.421; 3. L Hamilton (GB) McLaren 1:34.463; 4. N Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:34.670; 5. F Alonso (Sp) Ferrari 1:35.119; 6. F Massa (Br) Ferrari 1:35.145; 7. J Alguersuari (Sp) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:36.158; 8. P di Resta (GB) Force India 1:36.190; 9. S Buemi (Swi) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:36.203; 10. V Petrov (Rus) Renault No Time; 11. A Sutil (Ger) Force India 1:35.874; 12. S Perez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari 1:36.053; 13. K Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber-Ferrari 1:36.236; 14. M Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:36.457; 15. R Barrichello (Br) Williams 1:35.465; 16. N Heidfeld (Ger) Renault 1:36.611; 17. P Maldonado (Ven) Williams 1:36.956; 18. M Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1:36.468; 19. H Kovalainen (Fin) Lotus F1 1:37.894; 20. J Trulli (It) Lotus F1 1:38.318; 21. J d'Ambrosio (Bel) Virgin Racing 1:39.119; 22. T Glock (Ger) Virgin Racing 1:39.708; 23. V Liuzzi (It) HRT-F1 1:40.212; 24. N Karthikeyan (Ind) HRT-F1 1:40.445.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Angel Di Maria is shown the red card
tech
Sport
Roger Federer after his win over Tomas Berdych
sport
Life and Style
News in briefs: big pants in 'Bridget Jones's Diary'
fashionBig knickers are back
Sport
James Milner is set to sign for Liverpool this week despite rival interest from Arsenal
sportReds baulk at Benteke £32.5m release clause
News
The controversial Motor Neurone Disease Association poster, featuring sufferer Michael Smith, has drawn a series of angry complaints
newsThis one has been criticised for its 'threatening tone'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral