MONZA, ITALY // Dominant no longer adequately describes Sebastian Vettel's qualifying performances. Following his obliteration of the opposition ahead of Sunday's Italian Grand Prix, the German's superiority on a Saturday is now conclusive.
At the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza Saturday, the world champion secured his 10th pole position from 13 attempts to ensure Red Bull Racing maintain their 100 per cent qualifying record this season.
But it was the manner in which he managed it which proved so definitive: almost half-a-second ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who will join him on the front row.
Jenson Button, Hamilton's teammate at McLaren-Mercedes, was third quickest.
"We thought it would be much closer than that," Vettel said after claiming the 25th pole position of his career. "We did not expect to be finishing on pole by such a big margin on a track that for the past two years didn't suit us."
Monza was not supposed to favourably accommodate the set-up of the English-based team, with Christian Horner, the team principal, calling it "a bogey circuit". But there was few indications of issues yesterday.
Taking Vettel's performance as a harbinger for the remaining six qualifying sessions, many analysts are now predicting Red Bull can claim pole at every race this year.
However, the 24-year-old German driver is having none of it. When asked if a season-long lockout of pole position was possible, Vettel said: "I don't know and I don't care. We have to go step by step and it's not easy for us. So far, it has been excellent, but it's not over and the main task comes [today].
"It's not our target. Our target is to maximise the points."
Hamilton, who suffered a lock-up at the second chicane on his final lap, said he could have had "another couple of 10ths" out of the car, but "didn't have another half-second in the bank … It looked like we could be competitive throughout the weekend, but on that last lap Sebastian was untouchable".
Button acknowledged that third place is a "pretty good" place to start, and with cars now fitted with acceleration-enhancing Drag Reduction Systems "it is not so important to be on pole position" at a track that offers the fastest straights of the season.
"When you look at the time difference between first and third in qualifying, it's a lot," he said.
"But we've seen it before. It's going to be fun. I don't think Red Bull are going to have it all their own way, which is exactly what everyone wants."