German GP: Alonso takes pole in the rain
Alonso put in a lap of 1m40.621s to beat World champion and local hero Sebastian Vettel by 0.4 seconds. His Red Bull teammate Mark Webber, who will drop five places due to a penalty for a gearbox change, was third. zzzz
That will move Michael Schumacher into the top three on the grid on home ground. The German legend was on provisional pole for a while before ending up fourth quickest for Mercedes.
Sebastian Vettel was not able to repeat his 2010 Hockenheim pole on Saturday, qualifying second to Fernando Alonso. The German was frustrated to have been unintentionally baulked by team-mate Mark Webber when on his quickest lap in Q3.
Vettel was seen shaking a hand in Webber’s direction, but later understood that the Australian would have been unable to see in his mirrors because of the spray.
“I wasn’t happy with my lap,” Vettel said bluntly in the post-session press conference. “Fernando was a bit quicker with his strategy, so I don’t know whether we would have been quick enough anyway. We looked at what he did and maybe that was the better strategy. Our car isn’t bad if we make sure it is in the right window, so we need to go back and look at what we did in final practice this morning.
When describing the moment with Webber, Vettel said:
“I obviously lost a lap by (almost) running into him but it is difficult to see in these conditions; you can’t see in the mirrors and he probably didn’t see me. I lost a bit of time, for sure, and my last lap – when the track was best – was not completely clean.”
As Vettel sets off from the front row, Webber – who is the only man within one race win of Alonso in the championship – is demoted to eighth because of a gearbox penalty.
Sergio Perez has become another driver to receive a penalty at Hockenheim, falling back to 17th on the grid after delaying Kimi Raikkonen in the closing stages of Q2.
Raikkonen, who did progress to the top ten shootout, made his feelings clear over a team radio message which was broadcast to television viewers. Lotus duly passed the message on to FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting, who informed the stewards.
For Germany, the driver representative steward is former F1 racer and 1992 Sportscar World Champion Derek Warwick.
Also taking penalties at Hockenheim, but for gearbox changes, are Mark Webber, Romain Grosjean and Nico Rosberg who line up eighth, 20th and 22nd respectively.
Sebastian Vettel (2nd, 1:41.026): "The track was best at the end of the session, which is when we got our best times. In these conditions it's extremely difficult, as you can lose the car through the rivers on the track. I lost some time running into Mark at the end of one lap, but it's very difficult in these conditions and you can't see anything in the mirrors. I think we had the pace today to put the car on pole - so we need to look at what Fernando did with his strategy. But it can be a lottery when the weather's like that and fortunately we didn't lose the car, which is good and I'm starting on the front line tomorrow. We are being consistent at the moment, which is the key."
Mark Webber (3rd, 1:41.496): "It was tricky for us and we had dodgy conditions on track. When you know you're getting a five place penalty, it's easy not to get it right but I'm very happy to finish today quite far way up. We did some good laps and got a good result. Fernando stopped for fresh tires, which maybe we could have done, but should-have, could-have would-have, we got third and that's good - even with the penalty. I'm looking forward to the race and to moving up the grid. We can do a lot from eighth. We've shown the car is strong in all conditions and we will be looking to come through the field."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "It was very tricky conditions today and second and third is a very positive result, despite the fact that Mark unfortunately has to take a five-place penalty, which will put him eighth on the grid. Nonetheless, for Sebastian to be starting on the front row at his home race and Mark to be eighth on a track where overtaking is possible, will make for a really exciting race."
Cyril Dumont, Renault: "Today was a bit like Silverstone - you could lose a lot, so to finish second and third is a good result. Under these conditions, the later you went out on track, the faster the time, so it's never easy. In terms of the engine, the drivability is quite important in the wet, so we have been working that this weekend and it seems to be a bit better. We will see tomorrow."
Jenson Button (7th, 1:44.113): "We struggled to get the tires to work today - when you can't get temperature into the tire; you don't know its limit because it's too cold, and you can't hit the brakes either because you'll lock up. It's an issue we've had for a few races and an area where we need to improve. In dry running, however, the pace is very good: we just struggle in wet conditions to get the tires working. We've got to sort out these issues with the tire temperatures because it's hurting us both - and that makes it a very difficult day in the office for us. However, the positives that we can take away are that our car looks quick in the dry and that this weekend's upgrade package is a good step forward. Everyone should be proud of their efforts to not only get it working, but to also have delivered it ahead of schedule this weekend. Today was tough, but I hope we have a good race tomorrow."
Lewis Hamilton (8th, 1:44.186): "We've got to be a little disappointed with the final qualifying result; we were looking good in both Q1 and Q2, so I don't understand how the others went quicker as the track dried slightly towards the end of Q3. Still, we're in a better position for tomorrow: although we're not starting from the best positions, our car certainly looks better in the dry and, with dry weather predicted tomorrow, I definitely think we can have a good race. On Sunday, I plan to hunt everyone down from behind. The great thing at Hockenheim is the great big DRS zone along the back straight - so hopefully Jenson and I will be doing lots of overtaking there tomorrow!"
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "The bad news is that we weren't quick enough in Q3's wet conditions; but the good news is that the dry pace of our car appears to be very good. It's looking dry for tomorrow, it's going to be a long race and we have two great racing drivers, so we're optimistic of getting a decent result. Jenson and Lewis struggled in the wet, despite being very quick in the dry. Naturally, I'd rather start a few rows further forward, but as has been shown many times this year, you can win from further back. Fortunately, with our car looking more competitive in the dry, I'm confident that both drivers will do a good job tomorrow. From a broader perspective, I'm sure the quickly changing weather conditions between each qualifying session proved a gripping visceral thrill for even the most casual armchair fan. To its great benefit, Formula 1 is an all-weather sport, and all the drivers certainly displayed true gladiatorial mettle out there today. This most certainly isn't a sport for the faint-hearted!"
Fernando Alonso (1st, 1:40.621): "I am very happy! When qualifying is run in these conditions, it's very difficult to put together a clean lap and it's very easy to end up in the grass, the gravel or in the wall! It's something of a fight for survival: before anything else, you have to get to the end and then look at where you've finished. Then, when you hear on the radio that you've got pole, it is extremely satisfying, because there's a feeling you really have given your all. The car was going well in all conditions, which is encouraging, as it means that we can be in the fight whatever happens, be it dry or wet. In Q2, we went out immediately, hoping to do a time on the first lap, because we knew the rain would intensify. At the end, we fitted the Extremes, because we at least wanted to have a rough idea of what the conditions would probably be like in Q3. The last part of qualifying was very problematic because there was aquaplaning, to such an extent that we did not use the KERS and you couldn't use seventh gear on the straight. Managing to take pole in such extreme conditions is really gratifying! Tomorrow I expect that the strategies will be not be too different among the top teams, but with a good degree of flexibility. Looking at the championship, clearly I can't be unhappy about the fact that two strong competitors like Hamilton and Webber start on the fourth row, but we know how quickly things can change. The start will be important, but not decisive, as we have 67 laps to get through... A Spaniard on pole in Germany in an Italian car? I don't mean to be political, but it's definitely a curious set of circumstances!"
Felipe Massa (14th, 1:40.212): "I am very disappointed with the way qualifying went. I did not manage to do a time at the start of Q2 because I went wide at Turn 8 and so was unable to put together a good lap in the only window available to do so. At that point on the track, the tarmac is different and it is very easy to lock the wheels and thus lose a lot of time. Then, it was raining so hard that there was aquaplaning: I had to try and stay on track while also trying to improve my time, but the conditions meant this was absolutely not possible, even when I tried with the Extremes. It's a real shame, because the car was and is competitive, both in the wet and in the dry, but tomorrow I will start too far back to fight for the top places. I will do my very best, as always. It will be important to choose the right tires at the right moment: we have some idea, but it's a fact we were unable to do many long runs over these two days."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "Once again, Fernando has demonstrated just how talented he is: that was some qualifying from our driver! Here, as at Silverstone, the rain played its part in the qualifying session and it was not easy to manage the evolution of the track conditions. We are very disappointed for Felipe, who did not find an acceptable grip level in what was his only lap, the first in Q2, in which he could have done a time that would have got him through to the next part: it's a shame, because he could definitely have been competitive in Q3, as was the case two weeks ago in England. It's difficult to make any predictions regarding tomorrow, because there's a good deal of uncertainty relating to the behavior of the tires over a long run. We will try to make the most of our potential, aware that our opponents are very strong. Reliability as always is the priority, which is something we never forget..."
Pat Fry: "Once again, Fernando had a fantastic qualifying, getting the most out of the car or maybe even a bit more than that! Felipe could have been there fighting for the top places, but he did not manage to get the most out of the Intermediates on his first lap with them in Q2 and then the conditions meant it wasn't possible to improve enough to avoid being eliminated. In Q3, we decided to use two sets of Extremes, because we saw yesterday that they overheated very quickly and were only at their best in the opening laps. I can't honestly say if that was the decisive move, because one must also take into account that, when Fernando made his second run, the track conditions were improving and it was easier to go quicker. A word of praise for all our mechanics, who did a great job after FP3 of preparing the cars, especially Felipe's after it picked up a bit of damage in an off-track excursion. Now we must concentrate on preparing for a race that will be long and packed with unknowns, starting with tire performance over a long run. How many pit stops? Ah, good question...I'd say between one and four!"
Michael Schumacher (4th, 1:42.450): "That's certainly a nice way to start the German Grand Prix - we had been expecting a position between fifth and seventh on the grid, so fourth in qualifying, which will become third place on the grid, is even better. Naturally I'm particularly happy for all the Mercedes colleagues in the grandstands: they support us throughout the year and we wanted to give something back to them. In any case, we can be satisfied with this result. Perhaps it would have been even better to change to a new set of tires right at the end, but I don't think we could have done much more today. Now we have to focus completely on tomorrow's race. We know that it should be dry tomorrow and we should be more competitive here than we were in Silverstone."
Nico Rosberg (17th, 1:41.551): "It's a bit surprising to finish so far down in qualifying today, but unfortunately I couldn't get the right temperatures in my first set of intermediate tires in Q2 so I was a few seconds off the pace. Yesterday I was quite confident in the wet and in the dry so it is frustrating, especially on top of the gearbox penalty. But I will still hope to score some points tomorrow because a lot is possible in the races this year. I will definitely push a lot in front of all our fans here."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "It was a very eventful qualifying today but the positive thing was that our car was fundamentally fast in both the dry, intermediate and wet parts of the session. Nico was the second fastest prime tire runner in Q1, but when the rain came, he struggled to generate temperature in his intermediate tires. In those conditions, once you lose tire temperature you never get it back, so we certainly missed the window with him. Michael did an excellent job in Q2 and Q3; he was fourth fastest, will start P3, and could potentially have been even further up. But we can be satisfied with a second row start in such tricky conditions."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "The conditions were extremely difficult during the qualifying session today, probably the most challenging of this season so far. Michael coped well and posted a top four qualifying result for the sixth time in ten races. Nico suffered from a lack of grip owing to less-than-ideal tire temperatures and has to start from a long way back. After the wet qualifying, the weather forecast predicts a dry race tomorrow."
Kimi Raikkonen (10th, 1:45.811): "We weren't fast in the wet today for some reason and we need to look at why that was. I wasn't able to get any grip from the tires, even when we tried a fresh set of wets half way through the final qualifying session. In the dry the car is very good and in the races our car usually has strong pace. Let's hope for some dry weather tomorrow and see what happens."
Romain Grosjean (15th, 1:40.574): "The rain seemed to come at the wrong time for me ; it always was at its heaviest when I was trying to go for a quick lap. It was certainly difficult out there to find enough grip and not to get held up by other cars. It's difficult to understand why I was so far behind Kimi in qualifying when I've been very close to him during the rest of the weekend. I've got it all to do tomorrow and I'll be working hard with my engineers to ensure we've got the quickest car and the best strategy to go for some points."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "A frustrating session. Qualifying was a frustrating session. In the dry we looked to be comfortably one of the quickest cars out there, but as soon as it rained we really struggled with both. We will obviously investigate why we weren't able to extract any pace at the crucial time today. The forecast is for a dry race and we are confident in our pace in those conditions, particularly over a race distance. Kimi can still have a good race from P10 on the grid and we're looking at the strategy options for him. Romain has more work to do from P20, but it's a relatively easy track in terms of overtaking with DRS so we can still achieve a good result. Romain has his work cut out, but in dry conditions he's likely to have one of the fastest cars on the track. We'll be doing everything we can to give him the best strategy to move up the order and that's certainly his objective for the race."
Nico Hulkenberg (5th, 1:43.501): "I feel very excited because it's always special to qualify well, especially at your home race. It was a session that had a bit of everything because we ran on slicks, intermediates and wets. I think the most tricky conditions came during Q3 when I even aquaplaned off the track during my out lap and went into the gravel. Fortunately I was lucky and able to continue, but there was very little grip on the track. When you start high up you naturally want to finish high up as well and I hope we can have strong race. It will probably be dry tomorrow and there are a lot of quick cars behind us so we will need to think carefully to make the strategy work."
Paul di Resta (9th, 1:44.889): "It was a very difficult session and the rain didn't make life easy for anybody because there was so much aquaplaning on the back straight with two or three big puddles. Towards the end of Q3 I was getting ready for my final run but the traffic didn't really work out for me and I struggled to get the lap when it really counted. Still, we made it into the top ten so I'm happy, but you always want to be a bit further up the grid. We think it will be dry tomorrow so it was important to get lots of running during final practice this morning to build up a feel for the car in the dry. We are definitely in a good position to score points tomorrow and I'm ready to fight and move forward in the race."
Dr. Vijay Mallya, Team Principal: "I think we made the most of the challenging conditions today and we can be pleased to have both our cars inside the top ten. Nico will probably inherit a second row starting position when Webber takes his five-place penalty and that puts us in a strong position to race at the front. Paul also showed his skill in the wet conditions and will be competitive tomorrow. We've demonstrated once again that we have a very consistent car no matter what the conditions and with dry weather forecast for tomorrow I think the scene is set for an exciting race."
Sergio Perez (12th, 1:39.933): "It is such a shame. It looked really promising for us until the rain set in. After I changed to soft tires I ended up second fastest in Q1. Then we went out late on intermediates in Q2 and I was stuck in traffic. I had cars in front of me, but could not back off as there were some behind me as well."
Kamui Kobayashi (13th, 1:39.985): "It is a pity because I'm sure in dry conditions we would easily have been in Q3, as we had a very good pace. I even refrained from using soft tires, and the lap I did on the medium compound was good enough for Q2. But then in the wet we didn't make it. In dry conditions my car is really good. In the wet it is a lot better than it was on Friday when I struggled badly. We found something wrong and did some changes, but it is still not completely right."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "Both our drivers performed very strongly in Q1 in the dry, but then had a more difficult time in the wet. I believe this was influenced by the fact we chose a set-up which is more for dry conditions. The forecast for tomorrow predicts dry weather, so our drivers will be able to attack in the race."
Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Head of Track Engineering: "The result is not exactly what we hoped for, as we expected more today. It was quite hectic at the beginning of Q2 when it started raining and we had to put the cars on intermediate tires. Both drivers had been very quick in Q1, but then struggled in the wet. We knew qualifying would be run in wet conditions, while for the race conditions should be dry. Therefore we compromised the set-up to a certain extent."
Daniel Ricciardo (11th, 1:39.789): "I am satisfied with that performance. Eleventh is quite good for us, on the edge of Q3. Of course, I'm a little bit disappointed that I missed out on the top ten, but in general this result puts us in a good position for tomorrow and hopefully we can get our nose into the points, even if the race is dry as predicted. As for my quick lap, I actually improved during the run, because even though I was on Intermediates, I seemed to find more grip when there was more water on the track. For that reason, my best lap came right at the end and it was a case of changing lines through some corners from lap to lap as you tried to work out which lines worked best in the conditions. It was a challenging session and I had fun out there this afternoon."
Jean-Eric Vergne (18th, 1:16.741): "Only two tenths between me and P13 in Q1 which is very close and in fact I think I lost two tenths in the final corner, although apart from that, I feel my lap was quite good. I am disappointed that the rain arrived just a bit too late for me. We went out immediately on the Option as we expected rain to fall in Q1 itself. I am still hopeful of having a good race tomorrow as we seem a bit more competitive in the dry than we were two weeks ago. With the rain affecting several sessions, we have not done as much running on the dry tires as usual and seeing how they behave will be an interesting factor tomorrow."
Laurent Mekies, Chief Engineer: "A very entertaining qualifying and a great show for everyone watching. In these conditions, it's always going to be very tight and Jean-Eric missed the Q2 window by around 6 hundredths and then we missed the cut into Q3 with Daniel also by 6 hundredths. So it was an afternoon of mixed fortunes, with P11 being a good result for Daniel, while with Jev it's a shame he just missed out on a chance to run in the wet Q2. Tomorrow is reckoned to be dry for the race and it will be interesting to see the fight in the mid-field, as we have one car at the head of this group and the other at the back of it. This weekend is looking like a carbon-copy of Silverstone with a wet Friday and a dry Saturday morning, followed by a wet qualifying, with the race expected to be dry. We will be trying our very best and points have to be our target, at least with Daniel."
Pastor Maldonado (6th, 1:43.950): "The weather conditions today were really challenging with the grip levels changing so much between sessions. We had a good balance in Q1 and Q2 but when the rain hit I lost a lot of grip which made it difficult to challenge for a place on the front two rows. On the whole though I'm pretty pleased with where I have qualified and the weather is looking a bit more favorable tomorrow which should suit our car."
Bruno Senna (16th, 1:40.752): "We had a good pace in dry conditions so it's disappointing to find ourselves in 16th place. When the weather is like it was today it's always a bit of a lottery because being on track at the right time is crucial and unfortunately I was a bit unlucky in that respect. It will be difficult to get up into the top 10 from where we are because overtaking is not that easy on this track, but our long run pace has been good all year so I have a chance of scoring some points."
Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer: "Both drivers had a pretty strong FP3 session this morning but qualifying was dominated by the changeable weather conditions, with the first session run in the dry, the second starting on intermediate tires and finishing on full wets and the final Q3 session run on the full wets. Pastor was consistent throughout each session, struggling a little more with the car's balance in the full wet conditions, but ultimately finishing strongly in sixth. Bruno easily progressed from Q1 into Q2 but found the car more difficult to handle in the intermediate/full wet conditions, finishing in 16th. The weather forecast predicts a dry race and we will be working hard to get both cars home in the points."
Heikki Kovalainen (19th, 1:17.620): "For where we are right now that was pretty much the perfect lap. I didn't make any mistakes, nailed every apex and had a clean lap, so I'm pleased with what I got out of the car today. Closing the gap to the cars ahead is obviously our target and I think we are still finding out how to unlock the real potential of the upgrade package we first ran in Silverstone. Taking the package as a whole there are a lot of elements we need to get right to really use its potential and I think we still need more dry running to really understand what it will really give us. We'll keep working on achieving that and perhaps we'll see more of its value tomorrow as it's due to be sunny, and in Hungary where the hotter conditions will definitely suit us better than the cold, wet weather we've had in Germany and at the last race in Silverstone."
Vitaly Petrov (20th, 1:18.531): "That was a bit of a difficult session after the rain at the end of FP3 changed the track conditions. We were having some issues warming up the front tires and that, combined with traffic, meant I couldn't really push as much as I had been in the morning session. Despite that, all weekend we've been progressing, doing a good job to push us in the right direction, and tomorrow I think we can do well. We have decent race pace and I think we'll have a good result as we've been showing all season."
Riad Asmat, Chief Executive Officer: "Today's results are not where we want to be. We have been clear since before Silverstone that we need maximum time in the dry to understand how much the extensive upgrade package can give us and the weather this weekend has not helped that. However, we have the race tomorrow where we can definitely put in a good performance in both cars, and then Hungary which will suit us much more than Germany or Silverstone. We will keep fighting, keep working and not stay still - that would be the easy option but we are determined to join the midfield this season and that is keeping everybody motivated through every single lap."
Mark Smith, Technical Director: "I am reasonably satisfied with the performance today. I think it is clear that we have more to come from the cars and, in the circumstances today, Heikki got as much out of it as he could. Vitaly had a couple of issues with traffic that cost him some time in Q1 but the over-riding goal is to make sure that both drivers have setups they can use to extract every ounce of performance from the work being done back at the factory and in the wind tunnel."
Pedro de la Rosa (23rd, 1:19.912): "It could have been a very good qualifying session, because towards the end I was nine tenths under my time, but on the last two corners I had another car ahead and we lost two positions. We must all respect each other but now we have to look ahead. Leaving that aside, I think we did a good practice session this morning and a good qualifying session; the car performed well and we would have been very close to the Marussias. But the important stuff comes tomorrow and we have to focus on getting off to a good start and fighting until the end. We expect a dry race, but on the evidence of these last few days anything is possible."
Narain Karthikeyan (24th, 1:20.230): "Yesterday's FP2 was in wet conditions and today I could have done with a bit more mileage in dry as I only had one hour this morning to adapt to the circuit. But despite all this we did a good job. In qualifying we only finished three tenths off Pedro, so I'm happy. After FP3 I expected the gap to be bigger but we improved a lot before qualifying. Tomorrow we will see what happens with the weather but whatever the outcome it will be a tough battle and we will try to compete with our rivals."
Toni Cuquerella, Technical Director: "The dry track in the morning allowed us to finish our program and we achieved a good balance on both cars which enabled us to head into qualifying with more confidence, whatever the conditions were. In the end it was dry but the threat of rain meant that we all went out immediately and there was a lot of traffic. Our laps weren't perfect. We have a greater potential and our options are open for tomorrow's race which will surely be dry. The degradation of the tires isn't very high so we will go for a one-stop or two-stop strategy."
Charles Pic (21st, 1:19.220): "After a tough FP3 this morning, when I missed most of the session because of an engine change, I have to be very pleased with my qualifying. I only managed three practice laps on the option tire before qualifying and with the mixed forecast for the Q1 session - we didn't know at what point it would become wet - I felt a little unprepared. I was very comfortable with the car and I think there was quite a bit more to come. For sure in my last lap of my second run - my quickest lap - I made a small mistake in sector 1, but fortunately 2 and 3 were good. I am excited to see what we can do in the race tomorrow to find even more from the package which, in the limited time I have had in the car today, is working well. My thanks to my car crew; those FP3 laps were few but very important for today's result, and only possible because the engine change was so quick."
Timo Glock (22nd, 1:19.291): "A difficult weekend on my side since the first lap on Friday. I have just struggled a bit with the car because there is rear end instability that means I can't push with confidence right now. We have tried a few different things since yesterday to fix it, but we have run out of time a little to understand the problem. We still have the race of course and whatever possibilities that may bring. If the race is dry, then we just have to push very hard to get the maximum out of the package and bring the car home. My thanks to all the fans who have been so supportive, despite a tough weekend so far. I hope it can go better tomorrow."
John Booth, Team Principal: "Things haven't gone at all well for Timo so far at his home track and we have spent a lot of time - and will continue to do so - trying to understand the problems he is experiencing with the car. It is frustrating for him, because it is clear that there is more performance in the new package. Despite Charles' track time being impacted significantly during the Free Practice sessions, when he has been in the car he has managed to get it working well for him. Even more encouraging are the signs that there is still a lot more to come. A great job by Charles today and all credit to his car crew, who gave it everything they had to change the engine in enough time to get him out on track for the end of FP3. Those few laps ended up playing a big part in his qualifying performance. We'll have a good look at everything across the two cars this evening and see what we can do to give us the best chance for the race tomorrow. It looks to be a more straightforward forecast, which should bring some much-welcomed equilibrium in itself."
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