Peter Anderson | Jun 24, 2012

Sebastian Vettel will start from pole position at the European Grand Prix in the Spanish city of Valencia.

Vettel made up for an ordinary first and second session of qualifying, eventually hammering home the upgraded Red Bull's advantage.

Lotus and Mercedes looked to be threatening Red Bull and McLaren all weekend, but the front row tells the real story.

Mark Webber's weekend fell apart, the car's brakes and hydraulics causing him endless grief and he will start 19th, behind countryman Ricciardo in the Toro Rosso.

 

Practice

The three practice sessions were all run in hot, sunny conditions and had three different pacesetters in Maldonado, Vettel and Button.

All eyes were on Michael Schumacher this weekend as his during the build-up he was picked as the man to watch after his impressive speed in Monaco.

Red Bull's Mark Webber suffered hydraulic and brake problems in Free Practice 3 on Saturday morning, completing just four laps of the track he once likened to driving in a supermarket car park.

Timo Glock for Marussia was struck down by a stomach bug and despite making it through the practice sessions, was unable to compete for a grid position.

Marussia didn't have a reserve driver to fill his place, so there was to be no second Marussia on the road for the race.

 

Qualifying

The Ferraris looked good from their early laps onwards as the drivers built up their confidence in the steadily improving car. It would prove to be a false dawn however.

Webber's first run was just six minutes from the end of Q1 and he had to go out on the soft tyres but it wasn't enough and he started 19th. His car's DRS also failed, robbing him of a huge amount of time.

"I had no DRS, which costs about 1.3 second per lap and made it difficult. The car's put up a big fight today, we only managed to do four laps and three of those were in qualifying."

Caterham's Heikki Kovalainen made it through to Q2 but for the fifth time Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne failed to join his teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the middle session of qualifying. Ricciardo will start 17th, Vergne 18th.

Schumacher and Senna both missed out on a Q3 slot, Schumacher's exit the biggest surprise given his pace during the weekend. Both of their teammates made it through.

The Ferrari team had extra explaining to do as Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo was present in the pits to watch both red cars miss Q3. Alonso starts in 11th for his 'second' home race, Massa 13th.

The final session came down to both drivers from McLaren, Lotus and Force India with Vettel, Maldonado, Rosberg and Kobayashi their teams' sole representatives.

The real battle for pole was held for the final four minutes of the session. Grosjean fired first, triggering a rush out of the pits.

Vettel came out next, followed by Rosberg who was on his second run having set the fastest time early in the session. Kobayashi took to the track behind those two for his only attempt.

Grosjean's middle sector was a touch slow but his lap put him on provisional pole with just ninety seconds to go, knocking Rosberg from the top.

Behind him, Maldonado was a tenth down in the middle sector while di Resta punched in two fastest sectors.

Maldonado finished his lap, pushing Grosjean from pole. di Resta faded in the final sector, finishing tenth. Hulkenberg took took eighth.

Rosberg ended the session in sixth, six places ahead of Schumacher. Kobayashi's fine performance netted seventh, eight places ahead of Sergio Perez.

Vettel went half a second up and snatched pole from Maldonado, the McLarens following him home, second for Hamilton and ninth for Button. Raikkonen finished fifth, just behind Grosjean and in front of him the Williams of Maldonado.

"We did the right thing in the end!" Vettel exclaimed over the radio, referring to the decision to leave just one lap toward the end.