Sebastian Vettel maintained Red Bull's qualifying dominance after securing his seventh pole in eight race this season in Valencia.

The German stormed to top spot ahead of the European Grand Prix after beating Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber to pole as the championship leaders once again locked out the opening row of the grid.

Vettel had been quickest in the second stage of qualifying before the vital top-ten shootout and duly set the fastest time of the entire session on his first flying run in Q3.

That time, 1min 36.975secs, was good enough to see off all challengers with Vettel's rivals all failing to challenge on their second flying lap of the session - leaving the championship leader able to back off and return to the pits having gone back out on track to try and better his marker.

Webber was the only driver to improve on his time during his second run but he still fell two tenths of a second short of securing only his second pole position of the season, while Lewis Hamilton managed to get ahead of Ferrari pair Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa to qualify in third place for McLaren.

Hamilton's McLaren team-mate Jenson Button was less happy with his performance however as he was only able to qualify down in sixth place as he seeks to try and repeat the dramatic victory he secured a fortnight ago in Canada.

Nico Rosberg once again outqualified his Mercedes team-mate Michael Schumacher to take seventh on the grid, although the pair were split by just 0.009secs at the end of the session, while Nick Heidfeld and Adrian Sutil start from ninth and tenth on the grid.

Neither driver set a timed lap in Q3 as they preferred to save tyres for race day, although Heidfeld did at least venture onto the circuit while Sutil remained firmly in the pits.

Sutil had only made it through the final stage of qualifying thanks to his final lap of Q2, which edged Vitaly Petrov's Renault out of the equation. That meant the Russian had to settle for eleventh on the grid ahead of Paul di Resta, who could have made Q3 himself but for a number of small mistakes on his flying lap.

Rubens Barrichello starts 13th and shares row seven of the grid with Kamui Kobayashi, who locked up and flatspotted another set of tyres during the session.

Pastor Maldonado starts from 15th despite bringing out the red flag when his car ground to a halt on track, with the time he had already set being good enough to outqualify Sergio Perez and Sebastien Buemi.

Buemi's Toro Rosso team-mate Jaime Alguersuari was the man who once again dropped out at the first stage of qualifying although far bigger names than the Spaniard had looked at risk towards the end of Q1 - with Webber and Massa amongst those drivers who left it late before securing their passage to Q2. Massa in fact had to use a set of soft tyres to set a time that would put him through.

Alguersuari was joined in dropping out by the three new teams, with Heikki Kovalainen again the quickest driver for Lotus, although he was aided by a spin for team-mate Jarno Trulli on his final lap of the session.

The Lotus pair were followed by Timo Glock and Tonio Liuzzi - who again split the Virgin drivers - with Jerome D'Ambrosio and Narain Karthikeyan completing the grid.


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