Vettel Delights Home Crowd With German GP Pole


Sebastian Vettel will start his home race tomorrow from pole position after out-qualifying the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso by just two thousandths of a second.

Alonso claimed his first front row grid of the season after narrowly missing out on Ferrari's first pole position since Brazil 2008. Teammate Massa will start just behind him.

Webber could only qualify fourth after making a mistake on his final flying lap and McLaren locked out the third row, with Jenson Button out-qualifying Lewis Hamilton for only the fourth time this season.

Home favourite Michael Schumacher narrowly missed out on the top-ten shoot-out, and will start tomorrow's race from eleventh. His Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg starts from ninth.

Robert Kubica will start from seventh, and Williams had a good day with Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg both into the top ten, qualifying eight and tenth respectively.

After the morning rain, the track was mostly dry by the beginning of qualifying. Track temperature was just 24 degrees, but the rain was expected to stay away for the entire session.

The session was stopped with 14 minutes 30 remaining on the clock in Q1 after a big accident for Tonio Liuzzi. The Italian put a wheel on the astroturf coming out of the final corner of the lap, and he slid across the start/finish straight, crashed heavily into the pit wall.

Liuzzi walked away from his heavily damaged Force India, but there was carbon fibre debris and a loose wheel strewn across the lap, and action was suspended with just twelve drivers having set a lap time, and the two Ferraris topping the timesheets.

After Liuzzi's car had been lifted onto the back of a truck, the session resumed. Q1 now seemed a forgone conclusion though, as the drivers from the six new teams would surely be going out of qualifying along with Liuzzi.

Lucas Di Grassi failed to make it out at all in qualifying, and will start tomorrow's race from the back of the grid. The only consolation for the Brazilian is that the five-place penalty he was expecting to receive for changing his gearbox is not going to have any effect.

Jarno Trulli, Heikki Kovalainen, Timo Glock, Bruno Senna, Liuzzi, Sakon Yamamoto and Di Grassi was the order in which the last seven will line up on the grid tomorrow. Yamamoto was over a second off the pace of teammate Senna, showing that the decision to replace Karun Chandok with the Japanese driver is unlikely to be a performance-related decision by Hispania.

In these early stages of qualifying, Fernando Alonso was the only driver to dip below the 1:15.000 mark, about 3.5 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel.

For Q2, the two McLarens, the two Red Bulls, and Fernando Alonso (those confident of getting through to Q3 without too many problems) came out on the hard tyre, while the rest chose the super soft compound.

Alonso shaved another two tenths off his Q1 time, but then Massa, who was on the super soft tyre, knocked in a 1:14.607, and then a 1:14.478, before retiring to the pit lane. Despite the fact that he was easily through to Q3, Alonso came back out of the garage to beat Massa's time by four-tenths of a second.

Both Mercedes drivers looked in danger of dropping out at the Q2 stage at their home grand prix. Schumacher popped-up in ninth with just over a minute remaining, and Alonso then took the position off him, dropping the seven-time world champion to tenth. Schumacher failed to improve on his final lap as the checkered flag fell.

Things got worse for the German, as his compatriot Nico Hulkenberg beat his Schumacher's time, knocking him out of Q2. Rosberg squeaked through in tenth, just 0.008 seconds ahead of his Mercedes teammate.

Kamui Kobayashi, Vitaly Petrov, Adrian Sutil, Pedro de la Rosa, Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi will line up behind eleventh-placed Schumacher for tomorrow's race. Sutil will receive a five-place grid penalty for changing a gear-box before qualifying, and will start behind the two Lotus drivers.

Alonso again topped the timesheets in Q2 ahead of Sebastian Vettel, and he looked a real threat for pole position ahead of Q3. By this point it was three Germans down, and three German to go, with Vettel, Hulkenberg and Rosberg flying the flag at their home grand prix.

Webber was first to set a laptime, but it was slower than his best Q2 attempt. This was beaten by Alonso, as he signalled his intentions early on with a 1:13.927. Vettel responded with another sub-74 second time, but over three tenths off the pace of the Ferrari driver.

With just over two minutes of the session remaining, the pole contenders headed out of the garage for their final attempts at the top spot. Last to join the track was Alonso.

Vettel put in a 1:13.791 for his final qualifying lap to claim the top spot – but Alonso will still to follow. However, the Spaniard was just two thousandths of a second slower than Vettel, and the German secured yet another Red Bull pole position.

Webber ran wide in the first corner on his final qualifying lap, and could not challenge the two Ferraris, who will start tomorrow's race ahead of him.