Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the 2012 Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe from McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton. Pastor Maldonado followed them with a 1m 38.475s for Williams.
Romain Grosjean lapped around the Spanish venue with a 1m 38.505s while teammate Kimi Raikkonen was fifth in the second Lotus on 1m 38.513s. Nico Rosberg lapped his Mercedes in 1m 38.623s. Kamui Kobayashi was seventh for Sauber on 1m 38.741s, with Hulkenberg eighth for Force India on 1m 38.752s. Jenson Button was in ninth and Paul di Resta wrapped it up for Force India in tenth with 1m 38.992s. The top ten qualifiers were covered under a second.
Qualifying started off without the Marussia driver Timo Glock on the grid. The German suffered from a stomach infection but hopes that his free practise times will allow him to start the race on Sunday if he has recovered by then.
Mark Webber struggled with brake problems and ended up in P19 with a lap of 1m 40.395s. Maldonado headed the time-sheets on a track where temperatures soared to 45 degrees Celsius. Heikki Kovalainen bumped Jean Eric Vergne out of Q1 thanks to a revised Caterham aero package. It seemed that this was not exactly Red Bull's weekend.
Behind Webber, Vitaly Petrov was twentieth in the second Caterham with 1m 40.457s, from Pedro de la Rosa’s HRT on 1m 42.171s, team mate Narain Karthikeyan on 1m 42.527s and Charles Pic in the only Marussia on 1m 42.675s.
Local hero Fernando Alonso gave his fans something to sweat about in the Valencia heat when he was out of Q3 by a minute margin!
Michael Schumacher too, didn't make the cut to the next session with a 1m 38.770s along with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa on 1m 38.780s. With both Ferrari's out it was now a straight fight between McLaren and Red Bull for pole.
Bruno Senna, Sergio Perez, Heikki Kovalaninen and Daniel Ricciardo would also not play any further part in Qualifying.
With Jenson Button matching and even surpassing teammate Lewis Hamilton's pace in the final qualifying it looked as though the Brit had gotten over his cars handling problems. But with Grosjean, Maldonado and Rosberg trading fastest times it looked like we were on course for yet another surprise this season.
Kimi Raikkonen complained of excessive understeer and the Force India's decided to save tyres for race day. But in the dying seconds of Q3, the defending world champion who appeared harmless throughout the sessions began posting purple times, sector after sector. Resulting in one blistering lap around the street circuit of Valencia at 1m 38.086s. This was good enough for Pole. And probably good enough to spoil the chance for an eighth new winner this season!