Fernando Alonso has claimed back-to-back wet-weather pole positions, overcoming the tricky Hockenheim climate to claim top spot in an action-packed qualifying session for the German Grand Prix.
The Spaniard mastered the wet conditions in the final phase of qualifying better than his nine main rivals, and will start ahead of three Germans on the grid: defending champion Sebastian Vettel shares the front row with him, while a grid penalty for Mark Webber (who was third-quickest) has promoted Michael Schumacher and surprise performer Nico Hülkenberg to the second row of the grid.
Fellow runners Romain Grosjean and Nico Rosberg – who qualified a lowly 15th and 17th after being bumped out in Q2 – will take the same grid demotion. It was the first time all season that Grosjean failed to make the Q3 cut,
Pastor Maldonado delivered another excellent performance in his Williams to qualify sixth-fastest, which will become fifth on the grid ahead of the McLaren pairing of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.
Paul di Resta and Kimi Räikkönen will share the fifth row for Force India and Lotus, respectively.
A dry opening phase of qualifying saw the usual contenders progress through into the second part of qualifying, although Jean-Éric Vergne found himself bundled out in Q1 for the sixth time this season in what is rapidly becoming an alarming pattern for the Frenchman. By contrast, Toro Rosso team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was solid in qualifying, and again missed out on a Q3 berth (as he had done last time out at Silverstone) by the scarcest of margins.
The lower order saw the usual Caterham-Marussia-HRT Noah’s Ark formation on the timesheets, but it was Charles Pic who managed to upstage Marussia team-mate once again, beating the German on home soil into 21st-fastest.
The predicted rain arrived moments before Q2 started, which led to a mad scramble on the track as the drivers fought to get the best of the conditions to secure a Q3 promotion. While Grosjean and Rosberg both failed to make the cut, Felipe Massa was also consigned to an early bath after slithering off the circuit. He was lucky not to collect team-mate Alonso as he rejoined the circuit.
Both Saubers and Bruno Senna’s Williams were also eliminated from the top-ten shootout, and Sergio Pérez would later be hit with a five-place grid penalty by the stewards for separate instances of blocking Räikkonen and Alonso in Q2.
With the wet weather having dominated proceedings so far and with the teams having enjoyed little proper dry running, Sunday’s race – expected to deliver dry conditions – will be all the more interesting as the teams see if their set-up and strategy choices help deliver them a good result.
2012 German Formula 1 Grand Prix – Qualifying Session Times:
|1.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:40.621|
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:41.026||+ 0.405|
|3.||Mark Webber*||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:41.496||+ 0.875|
|4.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||1:42.459||+ 1.838|
|5.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:43.501||+ 2.880|
|6.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW34||1:43.950||+ 3.329|
|7.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:44.113||+ 3.492|
|8.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:44.186||+ 3.565|
|9.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:44.889||+ 4.268|
|10.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:45.811||+ 5.190|
|Q2 Cut-Off – 1:39.729||Time||Gap|
|11.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:39.789||+ 0.060|
|12.||Sergio Pérez**||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:39.933||+ 0.204|
|13.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:39.985||+ 0.256|
|14.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:40.212||+ 0.483|
|15.||Romain Grosjean*||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:40.574||+ 0.845|
|16.||Bruno Senna||Williams Renault FW34||1:40.752||+ 1.023|
|17.||Nico Rosberg*||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||1:41.551||+ 1.822|
|Q1 Cut-Off – 1:16.686||Time||Gap|
|18.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:16.741||+ 0.055|
|19.||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham Renault CT01||1:17.620||+ 0.934|
|19.||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham Renault CT01||1:18.531||+ 1.845|
|20.||Charles Pic||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:19.220||+ 2.534|
|22.||Timo Glock||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:19.291||+ 2.605|
|23.||Pedro de la Rosa||HRTF1 Cosworth F112||1:19.912||+ 3.226|
|24.||Narain Karthikeyan||HRTF1 Cosworth F112||1:20.230||+ 3.544|
* Denotes 5-place grid penalty will be taken for a gearbox change
** Denotes 5-place grid penalty will be taken for impeding other competitors during qualifying