Date: 26th March 2011 at 7:58am
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Ferrari may have threatened to take the battle to Red Bull during winter testing and a late surge from McLaren in Friday’s practice sessions may have suggested a mass scramble for pole, but F1 World champion Sebastian Vettel dominated on Saturday.

The signs were there from the third practice session in the early hours of Saturday morning when Red Bull’s Mark Webber and McLaren’s pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were all evenly matched, with just 0.203 seconds separating the three drivers.

But then the 2010 F1 World champion stepped up to record a time of 1minute 24.507 seconds to go 0.857 seconds faster than any one else and he took that form into qualifying going on to set a time of 1minute 23.529 seconds to secure pole ahead of McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton who joins him on the front row (+0.778), team-mate Mark Webber lines up third (+0.866) alongside McLaren’s Jenson Button in fourth (+1.250).

Ferrari slipped away from contention with Fernando Alonso only good enough for fifth with Felipe Massa eighth.

Other surprises were Mercedes, who had hoped to have closed the gap to the front runners and be in competition with McLaren following their final winter testing session in Barcelona.

But neither Michael Schumacher or Nico Rosberg got to grips with the car in qualifying, Rosberg once again going on to out perform the former seven-time World champion to qualify seventh, Schumacher failed to make the pole position shootout finishing eleventh.

It was as you were at the back end of the grid with Lotus, Virgin and Hispania all dropping out in the first qualifying session.

They were joined by Nick Heidfeld’s Renault who would have been hugely disappointed to qualify eighteenth.

Hispania’s Tonio Liuzzi and Narain Karthikeyan will have to beg and plead their way onto the grid tomorrow as neither driver could qualify within the 107% rule which has been re-introduced for 2011.