Although the Austrian team predicted it would struggle to get its cars to speed on the Valencia street circuit, both Vettel and teammate Mark Webber scored consistently good results in the second part of qualifying, emerging in 1st and 2nd respectively at the end of Q3. Vettel clocked his fastest lap in 1:37.587, while Webber had to settle for 2nd some 0.075 seconds behind.
Third place went to McLaren champion Lewis Hamilton, who made a few mistakes in his last flying lap to lose his initial front row position. However, he did manage to out-qualify the two Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa who, despite the overall improvements brought to Valencia, were unable to keep the pace with the front-runners in the last few minutes of qualy.
Renault’s Robert Kubica finished Q1 in 1st place but had to settle for 6th overall in the end, while in front of the second McLaren MP4-25 driven by Jenson Button. Williams F1’s improvements for the weekend got both their cars inside the Top 10, with Nico Hulkenberg topping his much older teammate Rubens Barrichello for 8th place. The Top 10 was completed by the second Renault driver Vitaly Petrov.
Mercedes GP had a Saturday to forget, with Nico Rosberg barely making the 12th slot on the grid, behind Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi, but ahead of Force India duo Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi. After almost failing to make it out of Q1 with a steering problem at his W01, Michael Schumacher scored the 15th best time of Q2, ahead of BMW Sauber’s Pedro de la Rosa and STR’s Jaime Alguersuari.
Failing to make it past Q1 was again Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi, who finished ahead of Lotus’ duo Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen. Virgin Racing’s Lucas di Grassi out-qualified his teammate Timo Glock for the first time this season, while the two remaining HRT F1’s of Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna finished in 23rd and 24th respectively.