Sebastian Vettel today showed the pace of his Red Bull RB5 at the Silverstone circuit by taking a deserved pole position from Rubens Barrichello and Mark Webber. The German had looked good throughout the Friday and Saturday sessions and is a good bet for the race win tomorrow. Vettel is fuelled heavier than his rivals and team-mate, making his performance all the more special.
Barrichello, a Silverstone specialist, demonstrated that the Brawn car is not far off the Red Bull, and he will be fancied by many of the punters tomorrow. Webber was balked by Raikkonen on his hot lap – for which he memorably accused the Finn of drinking vodka – but ended up a respectable third, from where he is in with a shout in the race.
Other winners included Jarno Trulli, who ended up with a good fourth spot on the grid. The Toyota man, a qualifying specialist, will fancy his chances of a podium tomorrow even if he is relatively short fuelled. Another performance of note came from Kazuki Nakajima, who hustled his Williams into a magnificent fifth place. The Japanese driver pulled out a vintage performance to land fifth place, the best of his short career so far. His highly-rated team-mate Rosberg did not disappoint either, making ninth.
Old-timers Raikkonen (vodka-assisted or not) and Alonso will be glad to have made the top ten shootout, and they bear favourable comparison with their stable-mates’ performance.
Sadly enough for the home fans, the biggest losers were the Brits. Jenson Button looked vulnerable for the first time this season, ending up sixth fastest and complaining of a lack of grip. He will struggle to win from there, and British fans will be praying for rain so that the silky skills of the Frome flyer can show through. Lewis Hamilton found himself a dismal 19th; relegated after Adrian Sutil’s big smash but conceding to the press that the McLaren simply did not have the pace. Kovalainen also bears witness to the lack of speed of the MP4-24, which cannot use to good effect its KERS at the Northamptonshire track.
Other losers include the BMW drivers, who still haven’t rediscovered their form. One gets the impression that Kubica is doing all he can with a dog of a car, managing as he did a fighting 12th spot. But Nick Heidfeld – who some accuse of being a fairweather F1 star – is apparently struggling to make the grade.
Vettel would be the bookies’ favourite for the British Grand Prix tomorrow, with Barrichello or Webber requiring something very special. Realistically, rain is the fans’ only hope for a home win, something that was almost a given three days ago in this ridiculous F1 world.