Vettel scorches the

33rd career pole for German; Hamilton in second spot

 Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel took a big step towards becoming Formula One's first repeat winner of the season after qualifying on pole position for Sunday's European Grand Prix for the third year in a row. 

The 24-year-old double world champion whooped with joy over the team radio after beating McLaren's Lewis Hamilton to the top slot with a best time of 1:38.086 seconds in the Valencia heat. 

"Oh yes, we did the right thing at the end. That was a challenge, boys," shouted the German after being told that Hamilton and "the rest of the world" was behind him on the provisional grid. 

His 33rd career pole lifted Vettel to equal third place with four times champion Alain Prost and the late Jim Clark in the sport's all-time records.  "I had a good feeling on the last lap, put everything in and it was good enough for pole," he told reporters. 

Hamilton, winner in Canada two weeks ago but whose team have yet to triumph in Valencia, was surprised to have made second on the grid - a hefty 0.324 seconds behind - after a difficult time in Friday practice. 

"I expected to be further back," said the 2008 world champion, who leads Spaniard Fernando Alonso by two points after seven races with Vettel a point further adrift.
Venezuela's Pastor Maldonado, a surprise winner of the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona last month, was an impressive third for Williams. 

The two Lotuses of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen, who have been going well in hot weather this season, made the most of the 46 degree centigrade track temperature to take fourth and fifth place. 

Hopes of an unprecedented eighth different winner in the first eight races faded, with the top three all having won this season and no winner in four previous races in Valencia having ever started lower than third. Germany's Nico Rosberg was sixth in a Mercedes and local favourite Alonso was back in 11th .

Meanwhile, Sahara Force India drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta finished at the eighth and 10th position in the qualifying session.

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