Shanghai, April 18 (Inditop) Sebastian Vettel claimed the first pole position for the Red Bull team at the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix Saturday as Brawn GP were brought down to earth again.
The German Vettel, 21, clocked 1 minute 36.184 seconds for the 5.451-km lap on the Shanghai International Circuit in a dramatic qualifying session.
Former world champion Fernando Alonso impressed with second place in a Renault in 1:36.381, with Vettel’s team-mate Mark Webber of Australia third on the grid for Sunday’s race in 1:36.466 minutes.
Red Bull got their first pole in their fifth F1 season. Vettel has his second career pole, the first coming at the 2008 Italian GP which he also won to become the youngest race winner, then at the Toro Rosso team.
Brawn’s Jenson Button, who had won the first two season races from pole, had to be content with fifth place on the day in 1:36.532 in the Brawn, with Brazilian team-mate Rubens Barrichello fourth in 1:36.493 minutes.
Button leads the championship with 15 points from his wins in Australia and Malaysia ahead of Barrichello (10) going into Sunday’s 56-lap race.
There were suggestions that Brawn may have run with more fuel than the others and as a result slower. But the results also indicate others are catching up after the ruling body FIA Wednesday ruled that double diffusers previously only used by Brawn, Toyota and Williams are legal.
Alonso used a similar device for the first time Saturday and world champion Lewis Hamilton’s season-best ninth place on the grid in a McLaren-Mercedes can also be attributed to an improved car.
But the day belonged to Vettel even without a double diffuser in a seemingly very light car. The young German showed nerves like steel with just one fast lap in each of the three qualifying segments on a windy afternoon.
“It was a very very good lap and I am extremely happy … If you have just one lap out there you don’t get a second chance. It is unbelievable we made the pole in the end,” said Vettel.
“We had problems with the car and decided to use it as little as possible … We had great concerns the car wouldn’t hold.”
Vettel remained cautious for Sunday’s race in which he will seek his first points of the season. The omens are good, though, as he won the Monza race from his only other pole last year.
“It is a long race, we will have to see how the car holds. We have the best position to start the race but no reason for podium feelings yet,” he said.
Red Bull was not the only team to work overtime in Shanghai, with mechanics at Renault and others also getting little sleep.
“It was strange with a completely new car,” said Alonso. “I am extremely happy with the result. The first races were no disaster but we weren’t fast enough. Any new part can make a big difference.”
Button will have to start from an unfamiliar fifth place but could move up if he really can pit later than the others due to more fuel, with team boss Ross Brawn saying: “We have to wait and see for tomorrow.”
Hamilton will also hope for points from his ninth place, and so will battered Ferrari, who have ex-champ Kimi Raikkonen in eighth place on the grid in a so far zero-points campaign.