Auto racing: Vettel, Webber on front row at Australian GP
AP Auto Racing Writer
MELBOURNE, Australia — Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel has taken his second straight pole of the Formula One season, besting teammate and local hope Mark Webber in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.
Vettel's time of 1 minute, 23.919 seconds around the Albert Park circuit dashed the hopes of local fans cheering for Webber, but the front-row monopoly of the grid put Red Bull in a good position to make amends for missing out on a win in Bahrain two weeks ago.
"It's Mark's home race, but last year he had pole in Germany, so it's kind of revenge," Vettel said. "Tomorrow it will be much more about having a tidy race because usually a lot of things happen here.
"We did not get the job done in Bahrain, so we will try to do it here."
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who won the season-opener in Bahrain after Vettel's car had a mysterious mechanical failure when leading the first GP under the new ban on in-race refueling, qualified in third place while teammate Felipe Massa was fifth.
"It's definitely not ideal in terms of looking for a win, but all the same, I will try and bring home a good number of points," Massa said. "This race is very tough, partly because, as we have seen often in the past, anything can happen here."
Separating the Ferraris was McLaren's world champion Jenson Button, whose teammate Lewis Hamilton added to his collection of forgettable recent Australian experiences by missing out on the final session of qualifying and will start from 11th.
Hamilton had his road car impounded by local police on Friday night for dangerous driving on his way from the circuit to the team hotel. He was disqualified from last year's Australian Grand Prix and was later found to have lied to race stewards.
Mercedes' Nico Rosberg qualified sixth, once again bettering his teammate and seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, who was seventh.
Williams' Rubens Barrichello, Renault's Robert Kubica and Force India's Adrian Sutil rounded out the top 10.
"In general I would guess the ranking that we see now reflects the situation well, and our performance is probably the maximum for our car at the moment," Schumacher said. "Anyhow, we still have a lot in hand for tomorrow's race, and I am on the clean side of the grid for the start."
Webber, who had never finished better than fifth in nine races at his home GP, was disappointed not to have got the better of Vettel.
"I would have loved to have been on pole, but second is still a good result," Webber said.
Alonso was confident about his chances in Sunday's race, given that his team showed better reliability in Bahrain and the Melbourne race is notoriously tough on the cars with many retirements expected and late rain forecast.
"I am extremely happy with the position in the top three," Alonso said. "This is the start of the weekend — tomorrow is the real job."