BUDAPEST // Red Bull-Renault once again destroyed their rivals in qualifying ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix by sweeping to their sixth front-row lock-out of the year spearheaded by the pole king Sebastian Vettel. Vettel claimed his seventh pole of the season and fourth in a row with a crushing lap at the Hungaroring of 1min 18.773secs, just over four tenths of a second quicker than Mark Webber. It is Red Bull's 11th pole in the 12 races this season, but this was by far their most impressive, with third-on-the-grid Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari a staggering 1.2secs adrift. Alonso is joined on the second row by teammate Felipe Massa, who suffered a near-fatal accident in qualifying on this track just over a year ago.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton again performed superbly in a below par McLaren-Mercedes to claim fifth ahead of Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes, but will have to go some way to make it three wins in four visits here. For the first time this season Vitaly Petrov out-qualified teammate Robert Kubica, with the duo seventh and eighth. They are followed by Pedro de la Rosa in his Sauber, equalling his best performance of the season, and the Williams of Nico Hulkenberg. For the second time in the last three races Jenson Button failed to make it into Q3, and the sixth time in the last seven grands prix he has now been out-qualified by Hamilton.
The 30-year-old missed out on a place in the top 10 by 0.017secs, and now faces a fight to gain any respectable points tomorrow to hold on to his second place in the standings. It would appear only rain can help Button tomorrow, as in 2006 when he started from 14th before going on to clinch his maiden victory. Joining Button on the sixth row of the grid is his former Honda and Brawn GP teammate Rubens Barrichello, now with Williams. It is an all-German seventh row with Force India's Adrian Sutil ahead of Michael Schumacher in his Mercedes who has now failed to make it into Q3 four times in the last races, finishing 0.8secs behind teammate Rosberg.
The Toro Rossos of Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari are 15th and 17th, with Vitantonio Liuzzi in his Force India providing the filling. The odd man out at the end of the initial 20-minute qualifying run was Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi for the third time in the last five races, with the Japanese starting 18th. The chasm between the more established teams and those in their rookie seasons was significantly underlined around this track as its tight, twisty nature ensured they struggled. Virgin Racing's Timo Glock was the best of the newcomers, albeit 1.8secs adrift of Kobayashi, but at least acquiring some personal satisfaction in finishing ahead of the two Lotus cars.
Glock will start 19th, with Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli 20th and 21st, with Lucas di Grassi 22nd in the second Virgin. Propping up the grid will be the Hispania Racing pair of Bruno Senna and Sakon Yamamoto, a staggering six seconds off Vettel's pace. On the occasion of Red Bull's 100th grand prix, Vettel said: "It was a very good day for us. "All weekend we have felt comfortable, from the first practice session onwards, and overnight we improved it a bit. "I said to the team over the radio that this was their moment because although Mark and myself are pushing hard to finish first and second, they have built this wonderful car. "So I'm happy to be on pole again. It means a lot for us, my team and myself." Vettel, who has only won once this season from his six previous poles, added: "Hopefully I can have a good start and then a good race because there are no points on a Saturday." Webber admitted to having given it his best, adding: "It wasn't the cleanest lap, my first. But Seb deserves pole. It was a good lap, 18.7, and it wasn't my day, but the guys have done a phenomenal job all weekend. "This was pretty similar to Barcelona here. We knew it was going to be between us, and whoever did the quickest lap would get pole." With Alonso so far back all the Spaniard can hope for is to apply as much pressure as possible. "There is a big gap between Red Bull and us," said Alonso. "We maximised our potential. We did our job, which is being the best of the rest. Hopefully we can make it a difficult race for them because so far it has been too easy. * PA