Hamilton wins European Grand Prix pole
VALENCIA, Spain -- Lewis Hamilton took the pole position for the European Grand Prix on Saturday to lead a McLaren 1-2 in qualifying.
Hamilton had a best lap of 1 minute, 39.498 seconds around the Valencia street circuit to give the defending Formula One champion his first pole of the season. Teammate Heikki Kovalainen will start Sunday's race from second spot.
"Clearly, we have very, very good pace this weekend," said Hamilton, who is coming off his first win of the season at the Hungarian GP. "We thought we would be competitive, but I don't think we thought we'd be on the front row."
Kovalainen was poised to give Hamilton a run for pole but slid out as he came out of the penultimate turn to give Hamilton his 14th career pole and McLaren's first 1-2 start since last year's Hungarian GP.
"I took it to the limit. You can always argue it could have been better, but in qualify it can go either way. I didn't lose more than one place so it's fine," said Kovalainen, who has had to endure constant speculation over his future with the British team.
Massa won from pole position last year when the top three finished in the same positions as they started, with Hamilton placing second.
Button remained ahead of Red Bull's Mark Webber, his closest competitor in the standings.
Button has 70 points after 10 races. Webber, who will start from ninth, has 51.5 followed by Vettel with 47 points.
With Massa recovering from life-threatening head injuries and Michael Schumacher unable to replace the Brazilian due to a neck injury, Badoer was called up for the first time since the 1999 Japanese GP after 10 years as a Ferrari test driver.
The 38-year-old Italian is unlikely to snap a record 48-race pointless run and was the only driver not to record a time of under 1:40. Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari, who is half Badoer's age, qualified 19th in his second career race but nearly 1.5 seconds ahead of Badoer.
Romain Grosjean qualified 14th in his debut for Renault. He is the first Frenchman since Patrick Tambay in 1984 to drive for the French team.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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