Hamilton in pits at Circuit of Catalunya.
BARCELONA, Spain, May 21, 2011 (AFP) - Australian Mark Webber grabbed his first pole position of the season and seventh of his career on Saturday after clocking the fastest time during qualifying for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix.
The 34-year-old Red Bull driver, winner of last year's race, clocked a time of one minute 20.981 at the Circuit de Catalunya, just 0.2 seconds faster than his team-mate German Sebastian Vettel.
Webber admitted that he didn't feel challeneged by rival teams McLaren and Ferrari, but was delighted to have beaten his 23-year-old team-mate - who has been on pole position at every other race this season.
"It was clear that there might have been a bit of a margin between us and them" said Webber, who is fourth in the world championship with 37 points, 31 behind Vettel.
"It was a good battle with Seb, I though we were going to be battling for pole so I just had to make sure I did a good lap and then pray that my time went above Seb's."
Vettel congratulated Webber on ending his run of pole placings which had seenhim become the first driver since Mika Hakkinen in 1999 to take the first four poles of the season.
"I didn't use KERS in Q2 and Q3, but it's not right to say I didn't have KERS and Mark got pole - he deserved pole," said Vettel.
Despite being almost a second off Webber's time, just 0.03 seconds separated third-placed Briton Lewis Hamilton from his McLaren team-mate and fellow Englishman Jenson Button, who was fifth.
Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari split the two McLarens pipping Button to fourth place in his final lap of the session.
German Nico Rosberg of Mercedes was sixth fastest followed by Brazilian Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari.
Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado managed eighth for Williams while seven times champion Michael Schumacher was ninth fastest in the second Mercedes. Schumacher was fastest in the Q1 opening mini-session, but his former Ferrari team-mate Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, now of Williams, was the shock exit after a gearbox problem prevented him from posting a decent lap time.
An unhappy Barrichello admitted his frustration."We had a gearbox problem and the car wasn't running well" he said, "It's very frustrating and it's a bit of a mess right now."
Lotus driver Italian Jarno Trulli qualified in 18th place ahead of Barrichello, followed by German Timo Glock of Virgin, Hispania drivers Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi and Indian Narain Karthikeyan, and Belgian Jerome D'Ambrosio in the second Virgin.
Renault driver German Nick Heidfeld did not manage to post a lap time because his team failed to fix his car after it went on fire during the final practice session in the morning, he will start in 24th place.
Eyebrows were raised in Q2 when Lotus opted to send out Finn Hekki Kovalainen on the soft tyres. Kovalainen backed his team in having made the right call.
"We were going for the qualifying time to maximise on our performance. "We still have tyres for tomorrow, they might not be as fresh as other people's, but it was great qualifying for us and I think it was absolutely the right decision."
That meant he out-qualified Force India drivers German Adrian Sutil and Scot Paul Di Resta for the first time this season, but will could struggle to stay ahead of them in the race.
Both Toro Rosso drivers Swiss Sebastien Buemi and Spaniard Jaime Alguesuari were also eliminated along with Mexican Sergio Perez and Japanese Kamui Kobayashi of Sauber.
See below the GP of Spain qualification results:
|2011 GP OF SPAIN QUALIFICATION RESULTS|
|16||15||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:26.126||1:24.332||13|
|17||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:26.571||1:24.648|
|24||9||Nick Heidfeld||Renault||no time|
|Q1 107% Time||01:28.8|