Vettel bags 37th career pole in Australia

Formula One News » Vettel bags 37th career pole in Australia

Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel will start the Australian Grand Prix, the opening round in the 2013 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, from pole position. It is the 37th F1 pole of his career.

After heavy rain forced the stewards to delay Q2 and Q3 until Sunday morning, conditions were much improved, although the track remained damp for Q2, with all the top times set on intermediate tyres.

Late on McLaren gambled and tried slicks, but Jenson Button soon switched back to the super soft tyres, while Sergio Perez paid for the decision and was eliminated. Jean-Eric Vergne also went out late on slicks in his Scuderia Toro Rosso, but again the move didn’t pay off.

Meanwhile for the top-ten shoot-out, the track had sufficiently improved for runners to use dry tyres for the second runs, and Vettel made the most of them to top the times with a 1 minute 27.407 seconds effort, which put him 0.420 seconds up on his nearest rival, team-mate and local hero, Mark Webber.

“Obviously I was very happy with the result, but with the adjusted schedule we can’t be too euphoric right now – in a few hours the race is coming up, so it’s head down again to get on with that,” Vettel said. “Obviously it’s a very good result for myself and the team and with Mark in second we have a front row – it’s a surprise after not knowing where we were in winter testing.”

“I think with such intense conditions like yesterday and today, it’s always easy to make a meal of it, but we didn’t,” Webber added. “It was slippery yesterday and we came back again today for a very short explosive session; it’s all over in a flash. We needed to get things right, I would have liked two laps but we finished up the grid at the right end. The weather can change very quickly here, so it’s always hard to make a call.”

Behind the Red Bulls, Lewis Hamilton was third on his Mercedes debut, 0.260 seconds further back, while Felipe Massa just edged out his Ferrari team-mate, Fernando Alonso to secure the other spot on the second row.

“The conditions were very tricky out there today and the team did a great job to get us out at the right times,” Hamilton stated. “I haven’t had the best of weekends so far so I’m happy to have finally put a good lap together today.

“I’ve done a lap more than Sebastian on my tyres so I might struggle to go as long on the first stint but I’ll give it everything I can in the race this afternoon. The team have worked incredibly hard, both here and at the factories in Brackley and Brixworth, and they deserve a good result. We’ve got a good baseline to work from with this car but only time will tell where we can go from here.”

Further back, Nico Rosberg, the pace setter in Q2, had to settle for sixth, ahead of the Lotus’ of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean and Brits Paul di Resta and JB. Button opted for three runs at the end of Q3 – another strategic choice by McLaren that didn’t pay off…

As for Q2, Nico Hulkenberg ended the session just on the wrong side of the cusp in his Sauber and will start in P11, ahead of Adrian Sutil, Vergne, Daniel Ricciardo, Perez and Valtteri Bottas in positions 12 through to 16.

In the very wet Q1 the previous day [Saturday], Pastor Maldonado and Esteban Gutierrez joined the Marussias and Caterhams in the bottom six. Maldonado will start 17th, one spot behind his team-mate, with Gutierrez 18th followed by Jules Bianchi, Max Chilton, Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic, the latter outside the 107 per cent. Pic is expected to get the okay to race.

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