Vettel pips Alonso for German GP pole
German Sebastian Vettel claimed pole for his home grand prix at Hockenheim and in doing so spoiled Fernando Alonso's shot at his first Ferrari pole by just 0.002 seconds.
The Spaniard's Ferrari car has taken a concrete step forward in Germany, and at the end of the dry Q3 session his best time was almost indistinguishable from Sebastian Vettel's in the dominant Red Bull.
Felipe Massa in the sister Ferrari was third place, while Silverstone winner Mark Webber was fourth in the second Red Bull, ahead of the two McLarens.
Alonso had looked favorite for pole as he topped both Q1 and Q2 then led the way early in Q3.
Jenson Button outqualified Lewis Hamilton as the McLarens claimed row three.
"It is clear now we are the third fastest team," rued Hamilton.
Added Button: "7 tenths behind? Surprising. We've definitely made a step forward with the car here but we don't have the pace, which is quite a worry, really."
Minnows Williams and Cosworth were delighted to get both cars into Q3. Rubens Barrichello was eighth, two places ahead of teammate Nico Hulkenberg, but more importantly ahead of the fastest Mercedes driver, Nico Rosberg.
Jenson Button (5th, 1:14.427): "It took a little bit of time for us to get used to the balance of the car this weekend. I was pretty happy with my final lap, so I don't know where the extra seven tenths [to pole] is. And that's the slightly worrying thing: it was a good lap, and I don't really think there was anything else I could've got out of the car. But we've definitely made a step forward with the blown diffuser - it's still not quite enough in qualifying spec, but, hopefully, we'll see some more performance tomorrow. From fifth on the grid, we can still have a good race, and this is a fun place to go racing. The first lap is usually pretty hectic, so I'll be hoping to pass some cars early on. I definitely think we can get a great result tomorrow."
Lewis Hamilton (6th, 1:14.566): "My qualifying pace wasn't great today - there was definitely a bit more time to be gained somewhere. I did the best job I could - it's just that the two teams in front did a slightly better job. We're the fastest down the straights, but we don't have quite enough downforce at the moment. We'll keep on pushing, but we know we have more work to do. Still, I think there'll be an improvement in our performance relative to the others tomorrow, because our race pace is generally better than our qualifying pace. Hopefully, the weather will be good, too, so we can push the guys in front and try and make up some places."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "No-one at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is ever going to be fully satisfied by a qualifying session that results in our cars qualifying only fifth and sixth - but we have reason to be confident that our race pace will be stronger. Our straight-line speed is impressive - perhaps more than we needed for an optimal qualifying set-up - but it's likely to pay dividends tomorrow. As ever, both Jenson and Lewis will be looking to make up places early on, and thereafter they'll approach the race with their usual combination of combative ambition and disciplined adherence to a race strategy that we hope will bag them another decent haul of world championship points. And, having scored 149 points out of a possible 172 in the past four races, we're focusing on maintaining our consistency above all else."
Nico Rosberg (9th, 1:15.179): "I was hoping for a strong weekend here in Hockenheim in front of our fans but unfortunately I struggled a lot in qualifying today. It's really disappointing and it seems that we are just not making our developments work as well as we hoped this weekend which we need to look into. I hope that we find the problem with the car otherwise it is difficult to explain why we are not closer to the front. I had a lot of oversteer and that made it really difficult as I had to keep coming down on the front wing levels which did not help. I will do my best tomorrow to achieve a good result but it will be difficult from this position."
Michael Schumacher (11th, 1:15.026): "There isn't much more to say about qualifying other than the result was what was achievable for us today. Clearly it was disappointing because we had expected to be able to fight for fifth or sixth place but from the difference between our two cars, you can see our results are what the potential was. If I want to find something positive, it is that at least I will be starting from the better side of the grid and in the end, I prefer 11th to 10th place because of that. I had some issues with my brakes during qualifying but I do not rate that a real factor for the performance today. We are a bit stronger in race pace than in qualifying but we clearly wanted to achieve more for our fans. Let's hope that tomorrow the race will develop in a way that we can still show them something."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "We obviously had a disappointing qualifying today at one of our home races, particularly considering the promise that we showed over the practice sessions. With the changeable weather conditions over the weekend and a new aero package on the car, clearly we haven't understood how to get the best from it here. That's eventually shown in qualifying today and the drivers were not able to extract any more performance from the car than their respective positions. We will look at all of the data available and understand what is happening to ensure that we make better use of the package in the future."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Ninth place for Nico and 11th place for Michael are not what we hoped to achieve for the home race of Mercedes-Benz. Our team has worked very hard to get the upgrades on our cars in time for Hockenheim but we must admit that after the limited amount of dry running, we could not make best use of them. But that is the price that sometimes you unfortunately have to pay when the team needs to accelerate its development process from race to race. We had a similar qualifying outcome in Valencia and a fortnight later, the upgrades delivered at Silverstone. I am convinced that with more running and more knowledge, we will make our latest development step work. Disappointment and frustration will not be in our minds right now but quite the opposite and let's see what the race will bring tomorrow. Nico, Michael and everybody in the team will be fully focused on achieving the best possible result."
Sebastian Vettel (1st, 1:13.791): "That was extremely exciting, especially in Q3. I knew that both times I went out I only had one timed lap, so I had to get it right. It's difficult here, there are some places that can easily lead you into a mistake on this track. If you push too much then you can lose the edge of the tires and some time. My final lap wasn't 100% perfect and there were a couple of places where I went over the limit, which cost me some time. But, in the end, it was enough - although only just - to stay ahead and get the pole. I am extremely happy - thanks to the team. It is the first time I am on pole at home, but the main challenge will come tomorrow."
Mark Webber (4th, 1:14.347): "I made a mistake into Turn one on my final timed lap. I turned in a little bit late and cut the curb, which took me out wide so I had to abandon the lap. It was a shame I couldn't take advantage of the improving track conditions at the end of the session; it wasn't the best day for me. I let the boys down a bit, but Seb did a good lap for pole. Fourth is still not too bad - let's see what we can do from there in tomorrow's race."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "It was a fantastic lap from Sebastian to get pole at his home race, albeit by the tightest of margins. Mark was right up there throughout the two qualifying sessions and again the drivers were split by very little. Unfortunately he ran wide at Turn one at the start of his last timed lap, but first and fourth is still a strong team result and it promises to be a good race tomorrow."
Fabrice Lom, Renault: "What a nice feeling to have a pole position at Sebastian's home race. It's so good for him, I imagine he's very happy. Also to get pole by the tiniest margin, two thousandths of a second, is a very good achievement. Mark is a bit further back behind the Ferraris, but first and fourth ahead of the McLarens is a strong qualifying result. We need to capitalize on this tomorrow in the race in order to close the gap in the Championship."
Fernando Alonso (2nd, 1:13.793): "I am happy to be back on the front row after such a long time! We have been competitive all weekend, so this result is not a surprise: although perhaps the small gap to the Red Bull is, given that so far, even when we were close in free practice, or in Q1 and Q2, then in Q3, they always seemed to have that little bit extra. For a few races now, the F10 has improved a lot and that has finally led to us being in the fight for pole position. We have had a good Saturday, but now we have to do the same again on Sunday, as the points are only given out tomorrow. I am happy that Felipe is also in a good position as that means we can defend ourselves, particularly from the McLarens on the opening lap, because with their top speed they could pose a real threat. Tires could be a significant unknown factor tomorrow: the track has improved so much over the past two days and we are using them much more than yesterday, so we could expect some surprises on the strategy front. The start? At Silverstone, the theoretically slower dirty side was actually cleaner and I hope the same will be true here! We will give it our all in trying to win, because looking at the classification, we need to bring home as many points as possible."
Felipe Massa (3rd, 1:14.290): "I am pleased with this third place, as it means I am in a good position for the start of the race. It gives us a chance to score a lot of points for the team and that is our objective for tomorrow, as we have lost too many in recent races! Therefore, we hope that the negative run that dates back to Canada will end here in Germany. The gap between my time and that of the first two is due mainly to the fact that I never managed to produce a perfect lap on my last run. Tomorrow, we will do our best: yesterday, we saw that our race pace is competitive and we will try to make the most of that. On this track, with so many slow corners and where it is important to have a car that is good under braking, the F10 seems to be working very well."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "We are very pleased with this result, even if there's just a hint of regret that pole escaped us by a whisker. This result is down to the whole team, both at the track and at the factory, which over the past weeks, has put in an incredible effort to improve the performance of our car. Already, for the past three races, we could see we were getting better but, for various reasons and events, we did not pick up the results that were within our grasp. Now we have to remain focused and prepare for tomorrow, down to the smallest detail. Above all, we hope we can finally have a normal race. The time has come to reap the rewards of all the work we have done so far."
Chris Dyer: "A great result which confirms what a good job the team has done in improving the F10. I think everyone now realizes that. Clearly, missing out on pole by just two thousandths is a slight disappointment, but that is far outweighed by the satisfaction of getting one car onto the first row and the other on the second, something we have not managed for quite some time. For several races now we have seen signs of progress, but we did not manage to turn it into points, but now the time has come to do so."
Rubens Barrichello (8th, 1:15.109): "It was a good day all told. In Q2, I set my best time and it was a fantastic lap, and in Q3 for some reason I developed a bit of understeer and lost some balance. So it was a bit of a shame not to be able to repeat the performance as I thought we were capable of P7. That said, we have to be happy with two cars in the top ten and it gives us confidence for good points tomorrow."
Nico Hulkenberg (10th, 1:15.339): "It was positive to get both cars into the top ten; I think there was a bit more there time-wise at around about Rubens' pace, but I didn't have the greatest run right at the end of Q3. All that said, we have a good platform for a strong race tomorrow."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "Today was another good qualifying performance by the team and it is great to have both cars in the top 10. We believed we could get up to 7th, but we just missed a bit of time in the last sector relative to Q2. Looking to tomorrow's race, our target is to put away more points with both cars. The weather here this weekend has made things interesting so far, but it's still clear on the tires and other items."
Robert Kubica (7th, 1:15.079): "I am reasonably happy to be seventh on the grid and I think that, for now, we have to realize that we could not have qualified any higher than this. My lap could have been better, because I was held up by a Red Bull in the final sector, but I don't think it would have changed my position. We have had a couple of issues with the car here and in Silverstone, and I have not felt as confident with it, so we know that it's important to keep working to improve the feeling because that will give us more consistency. As for tomorrow's race, we saw in Silverstone that anything is possible but we need a good start and a good first lap. We hope that our race pace will be strong, too, but we saw today that the gap to the teams in front is pretty big so I'm expecting a tough afternoon."
Vitaly Petrov (13th, 1:15.307): "It was another tough qualifying session for me. The lap times around the top ten were very close and I was still learning how to get the most from the car and the tires at this track, then trying to put it all together in a single lap. In the end, getting it right is a question of experience, and I know that better results will come when I can bring the pieces together - even though I wasn't far from the top ten today."
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: "I am pretty pleased with our qualifying performance today, considering that all of the teams ahead of us - and some behind - are running with the F-duct. It's good to be the leading team without that system, and particularly nice to have Robert ahead of the two Mercedes - although he could have gone quicker had he not hit traffic on his fastest lap. Of course, our ambitions are greater than P7, but this was a good result today. On the other side of the garage, Vitaly didn't quite make the cut for Q3 - but in his defense, the times were very close today and he was just a few tenths away."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "At the moment, we know that we are a step away from the three teams ahead of us on the grid, so it's pleasing to see Robert qualify ahead of both Williams and both Mercedes. It was a shame that Vitaly wasn't able to get closer to the top ten, but he did a good job after two disjointed days of practice. It hasn't been the easiest of weekends for us overall, and it's fair to say we struggled with the car yesterday, but we got on top of the situation this morning and during qualifying. Looking to Sunday, the changeable weather conditions have been a feature of the weekend so far, but we are not currently expecting any rain for the race."
Adrian Sutil (14th, 1:15.467): "Not really such a great day for us! The weekend started so well and in the rain the car was so strong, but it's not gone right today. This morning I had a problem with the driveshaft and missed the whole session. We also had to change the gearbox as a result of the problem so we knew that we would be facing a tough challenge with the five place penalty we would get. Then in qualifying I didn't have any grip and the car was sliding around and we were only quick enough for 14th place. All the same it's only qualifying and there's a long race tomorrow where anything can happen. With a good strategy we can always go for a good result."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (22nd, 1:18.952): "I had had a good couple of laps but then I hit a wet patch on the curb or on the grass that wasn't visible from the track and it then started the accident. I lost the rear and was pushed out quite strongly across the track and into the wall. I wasn't hurt, but it's such a shame as we lost the qualifying and now have to start far down the grid. We can still make up some places as we showed in the last race in Silverstone where I came back to 11th and under a second from the points, so the race pace is very strong - let's see what we can do."
Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer: "Obviously we're disappointed with the session today. We were hoping for more in qualifying but had technical problems with the driveshaft failure on Adrian's car in FP3, which compromised his performance in qualifying. Tonio then had an accident at the last corner, which eliminated him in Q1. But as we always say there's no points for qualifying. Our long run pace this weekend on both cars has been strong and both Adrian and Tonio are real fighters who will keep pushing until the flag. They have fought hard in the past and, even after the difficulties today, are exceptionally motivated to do it again here in Hockenheim."
Jaime Alguersuari (16th, 1:15.588): "To be honest I did not expect to be quicker than my team-mate today, as it has been a difficult weekend with not so much testing on a dry track. Therefore, I found it hard to get up to speed in the dry, but in the end, I managed it in qualifying, even if I might have been able to improve by one or two tenths. If it stays like this for the race, who knows what might happen as it is possible that tire degradation will be a factor that might help me move up the order."
Sebastien Buemi (17th, 1:15.974): "Q1 went well, but I am not really sure what happened in Q2, as I was unable to make the most of the improving track conditions. We will have to see why that was, if it was down to the way we ran the tires or some other reason to do with the set-up. Therefore I am rather disappointed that things did not go as well as expected. As for tomorrow's race, there are a couple of places where you can overtake if you have the speed, so let's wait and see what happens and a lot could depend on the weather. If it is dry, the key element of the strategy will be managing the usage of the soft tire."
Giorgio Ascanelli, Technical Director: "After this afternoon's session, we are looking a bit better than in Silverstone a fortnight ago, however that is mainly due to Liuzzi's crash - I'm glad he seems okay - rather than due to our own efforts."
Jarno Trulli (18th, 1:17.583): "I've had a great weekend so far. I've had no troubles with the car and I've been able to work on getting the right balance, and being comfortable with how the car feels in all the sessions. You can see from the lap time today just how good it's been, so I'm really happy, but obviously we always have work to do, and the satisfaction comes from putting in the work and seeing results like the lap today. Tomorrow it's all about pushing the guys ahead and getting both cars home again, so that's where the focus is now."
Heikki Kovalainen (19th, 1:18.300): "It's been quite a difficult weekend for me so far - it seems to be a bit harder than normal and I'm not sure why. The balance was ok today but the grip levels felt poor and I wasn't able to get the best out of the tires on either run. It felt like I was getting more out of them on the third lap each time, so we need to analyze that and see what's behind it. Despite this we're still in a good position. Jarno did a great lap and I got ahead of Glock pretty comfortably, so there's everything to fight for tomorrow."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "Mixed feelings today. A very good job from Jarno who was pretty happy with the balance of his car, but disappointing for Heikki who lost 3/10ths in a straight line to Jarno and we'll have to look at the reasons for that. Overall he hasn't been happy with the balance all weekend and I think the team didn't do a good enough job on his car before qualifying. However, on the positive side we finished the best of the new teams, and we're looking to take this form into the race tomorrow with a strong double finish."
Kamarudin Meranun, Deputy Team Principal: "It's very exciting to see us finish 18th and 19th, and we'll be going up another position on the grid due to Sutil's penalty. I'm sorry for Heikki, but very happy for Jarno and I'm sure Heikki will put in a very strong performance tomorrow - we're firmly ahead of the new teams and closer than ever to those ahead, so it's a good day!"
Bruno Senna (21st, 1:18.592): "It feels like a really good qualifying for us and we have been closer to our competitors than expected. My lap was almost perfect as I could put all the sectors together. I think it was one of my best laps in qualifying this year, so I'm fairly happy. It was a good effort from the team and we will see how it goes tomorrow."
Sakon Yamamoto (23rd, 1:19.844): "It was my second qualifying in a row after Silverstone and here we could improve a lot compared to the last weekend. Today it was a bit disappointing as we had a shifting problem on my fastest lap, which needs to be investigated for tomorrow. During the race, the weather conditions will be different and I'm going to do my best and I hope to finish the race again."
Colin Kolles, Team Principal: "Today we are happy with the result both drivers achieved in both sessions. Bruno Senna showed his best qualifying performance this season. Sakon Yamamoto learnt a lot from yesterday's practices and could improve his performance. Unfortunately, he had a shifting problem which is going to be investigated. We could catch up with the other new teams and we are confident to race the other teams tomorrow."
Kamui Kobayashi (12th, 1:15.084): "I am not happy because I should have gone through into Q3. The car was good and the performance in qualifying confirmed this. But on my second run in Q2 I had traffic and needed to slow down a bit. Obviously this wasn't good for the tire temperatures and I had a lack of grip afterwards. However, from 12th on the grid I should still be able to score points tomorrow."
Pedro de la Rosa (15th, 1:15.550): "I was certainly hoping to make it into Q3. Overall I think we have been closer to the top ten than expected. The car was good and it will be the same in the race tomorrow. On my second run in Q2 I pushed too hard and had a couple of big moments. This way I obviously couldn't improve my lap time."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "The positive aspect of today is the fact our car made another step forward with regard to performance, otherwise we wouldn't be able to compete at such a level. However, it's disappointing we didn't make it into Q3."
James Key, Technical Director: "We came in this morning after working over night on the cars to address some of the issues we found in dry conditions yesterday. Both drivers were happy with the cars this morning, and we looked reasonably competitive. We went to qualifying knowing we had a realistic chance of a getting into Q3. There was a big accident in the first session, and it was good to see Vitantonio Liuzzi walk away from that. Then it was about concentrating on getting the tires to work. The first outings were reasonable. Kamui was in the top ten straightaway, but unfortunately we couldn't get the most out of the new tires on the second run, where we didn't improve at all. That left us just outside the top ten. Ultimately it was disappointing, but I'm pleased the car has taken a step forward. We should be able to fight for points tomorrow."
Timo Glock (20th, 1:18.343): "A very disappointing day after the promising start we made to the weekend yesterday. The gearbox problem we experienced this morning was very frustrating because it cost us the end of the session. The guys did a fantastic job, working through the break to get the car ready in time for Qualifying, but then after the first run we had a problem with the rear brakes and it was too risky to go out again. After the first set of tires we were in front of Lotus but we couldn't continue and therefore run the next set of options, so we don't know how it could have panned out - we could have split the Lotus cars or even been ahead of them. It's just very disappointing."
Lucas di Grassi (24th, No Time): "It has been a very frustrating day for me and the team because we were looking so good in Free Practice and I think we could have done a really good job in Qualifying. But we had the alternator problem late in the session this morning and then it was clear on my Qualifying out-lap that there was a gearbox problem which could not be fixed in the time we had. We will do the best we can tomorrow in the hope that we can finish as the best of the new teams."
Nick Wirth, Technical Director: "We are all extremely disappointed by today's results. After a few encouraging laps on the drying track this morning, Lucas experienced an engine alternator failure and oil leak which caused the gearbox control system to temporarily lose control of the gearshift with the sudden electrical voltage drop. It was unclear at the time whether this had caused damage to the gearbox, and after successful tests in the garage before qualifying, we elected to try it rather than change the gearbox and take a grid penalty. Sadly, a gearbox problem quickly became apparent when he tried his first qualifying run and we'll have to change his gearbox tonight. Timo's hopes of a good showing in front of his home crowd were thwarted by a different gearbox problem in free practice which stopped him doing any meaningful running this morning and forced us to change his gearbox before qualifying. His first proper run of the day was a great effort, but a small brake caliper hose fitting leak was spotted as his final set of tires were being fitted, and we simply couldn't risk a final run. I guess the most annoying thing was that we have been unable to demonstrate the clear performance progress we have continued to make but hopefully we'll get an opportunity to do this tomorrow."
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