It was also the 24-year-old’s third successive pole in Valencia, his third pole of the year and 33rd of his career, equalling F1 legends Alain Prost and Jim Clark.
The defending drivers’ champion struggled for pace on Friday and was forced to use an extra set of tyres in Q2 to escape the cut — a gamble that paid off after a stunning lap towards the end of the final session secured his place on the front row beside second-fastest Lewis Hamilton of McLaren.
“Oh yes, we did the right thing in the end — it was a challenge, but well worth it” he shouted over the team radio. Vettel clocked a fastest lap time of one minute 38.086 at the Valencia street circuit, over three tenths faster than Hamilton and third-placed Pastor Maldonado of Williams. Vettel admitted he was surprised to have taken pole in such a dominant fashion.
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
3. P Maldonado (Williams)
4. Romain Grosjean (Lotus)
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
6. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
7. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber)
8. Nico Hülkenberg (Force India)
9. Jenson Button (McLaren)
10. Paul di Resta (Force India)