Alonso Rules Supreme At German GP Qualifying

The skies may have been grey in south-west Germany but they were shining upon Spain’s Fernando Alonso after the Ferrari driver recorded pole position for tomorrow’s German Grand Prix. While other drivers did not fare so well in the wet conditions, the Spaniard was some way ahead of Sebastian Vettel in second and nearly two seconds in front of Mark Webber in third.

In the press conference which came after notching his second consecutive pole position, Alonso stated that track conditions were tough but was relieved to escape unscathed:

“We did Q3 and I think going into T6 it was not easy for anybody, there was a lot of aquaplaning and we are 280/90 km/h so… but you know everything went well for us and we backed off a little bit in those aquaplaning moments and the rest of the lap was clean.”

“When you have these conditions its very difficult to put a clean lap together. Those are survival moments, you need to finish the session and see what you can get. Whatever the position, you are happy because you made the finish.”

His Ferrari team brought him in for a fresh set of tyres in order to put in one last lap, which he went even quicker with and congratulated the team for making the decision:

“I think also we made a good strategy call doing a pitstop in Q3 and then have a very fresh set of tyres in the last minute. That was when the track was in a little bit better condition and that helped us a lot to improve the laptime.”

Webber will drop to eighth after his grid penalty

One man who admitted following such a strategy would have been beneficial was second-placed Mark Webber:

“We could have maybe, like Fernando, stopped but should have, would have, could have doesn’t count,” said Webber. “We’re third now.”

It was a challenge for us. In Q3, definitely to arrive on the straights in seventh gear was sometimes not possible, to use the kerbs wasn’t possible and there was extremely heavy aquaplaning. When the car has wheelspin at 280km/h, it certainly gets your attention.

“So we had to juggle a few balls. We arrived at the end of the lap in reasonable shape. It was becoming obvious that that times were going to be done at the end but our tyres weren’t in the best shape at the end.”

The Australian is one of a number of drivers who take a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, others being Romain Grosjean and Nico Rosberg, but he is determined to push on:

“We wanted to be on the front row but eighth with the penalty is OK and we can race from there,” Webber said. “We’re going to aim to go forward. It’s not the best position to start from, it’s not ideal, but we have to aim to come forward and let’s see how the race goes.”

Vettel felt he could have gone quicker on a clean lap

His team-mate was disappointed with his performance and felt that he could have gone faster in conditions which he said were not easy:

“I was not happy with my lap,” admitted the German. “Fernando’s strategy was a bit quicker. I could have gone quicker but we don’t know if it would have been good enough.

“In these conditions it is tricky, you lose the car a little bit over the rivers on the track and you are on a different place than you targeted to be but it’s tricky. Nevertheless we had the pace today to put the car on pole in the end. I think it was possible.”

Saying that the Red Bull car can be good if at the right time, the changing conditions meant it is hard to gauge whether updates brought to the car have helped:

“The car is not bad if we get in the right window so we need to look at what we’ve done in practice this morning. With the conditions changing we can’t find consistency but I think the changes we’ve made should be a step,” he said.

Hulkenberg coped well in the wet weather

Force India’s Nico Hulkenburg put in the best qualifying show of his career to date as he went fifth quickest, moving up to fourth once Webber’s penalty is taken into effect. The German says it will be tough to stay there, but that he will do his best to bring home as many Constructor’s Championship points for the team as possible:

“I’m fairly happy, to be honest, although in Q3 I felt better in the car in the beginning when it was wetter and in the end when it was drier I was struggling a bit more,” said Hulkenberg.

“To bring it back home in that position is the challenge tomorrow, and it’s quite a big task. We will try to defend as best as we can, but the pressure is always there because is ahead and we are in need to score points. We can only do what we can and get the maximum out of this weekend.”

Button starts one place higher than team-mate Hamilton

Jenson Button out-qualified his McLaren stable-mate Lewis Hamilton and is sure that a dry race will see the team having a much stronger day than they had during qualifying:

“I definitely think we should aim for [a podium] and I think we should aim even higher, in dry conditions we have made some good improvements to the car aerodynamically and mechanically and it is just in the wet where we struggle with tyre temperature,” said Button.

“The car feels good in the dry and I have done a lot of high-fuel running so we have a lot of information other people don’t.”

“On Friday we did three long runs and today I did two long runs so I feel we are more ready to race than anyone,” he added.

Not for the first time, Massa was bettered by Alonso

Ferrari may have one man on pole but it is contrasting fortunes for Felipe Massa who will start the race from fourteenth place on the grid. The Brazilian stated that the lack of long runs in the dry did not help his situation but he will strive to improve his placing:

“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,” said Massa.

“I will do my very best, as always. It will be important to choose the right tyres 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.”

German GP Grid

Pos  Driver                Team                 Time           Gap   
 1.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m40.621s
 2.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m41.026s  + 0.405
 3.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m41.496s  + 1.838 *
 4.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes             1m42.459s  + 2.880
 5.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes 1m43.501s  + 3.329
 6.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m43.950s  + 3.492
 7.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m44.113s  + 3.565
 8.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes     1m44.186s  + 0.875
 9.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m44.889s  + 4.268
10.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault        1m45.811s  + 5.190
Q2 cut-off time: 1m39.729s                                   Gap **
11.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m39.789s  + 2.424
12.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari       1m39.933s  + 2.568 *
13.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari       1m39.985s  + 2.620
14.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m40.212s  + 2.847
15.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        1m40.574s  + 3.209 *
16.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault     1m40.752s  + 3.387
17.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m41.551s  + 4.186 *
Q1 cut-off time: 1m16.686s                                    Gap *
18.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m16.741s  + 1.048
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault     1m17.620s  + 1.927
20.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault     1m18.531s  + 2.838
21.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth    1m19.220s  + 3.527
22.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth    1m19.291s  + 3.598
23.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth         1m19.912s  + 4.219
24.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth         1m20.230s  + 4.537

* = Five-place grid drop
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