Mark Webber broke Sebastian Vettel's stranglehold on pole position for only the second time this season at Silverstone today, beating his Red Bull team-mate by just three hundredth of a second in a rain-affected qualifying session.
Vettel continues his record of starting on the front row of the grid at every race this season and Fernando Alonso leads an all-Ferrari second row at the tomorrow's British Grand Prix.
Home favourites Jenson Button and Paul di Resta will start the race from fifth and sixth, but Lewis Hamilton could only manage P10 after McLaren struggled with the regulation changes on off-throttle blown diffusers.
Pastor Maldonado, Kamui Kobayashi and Nico Rosberg all out-qualified their respective team-mates and will start the race from eighth, ninth and tenth.
After all the blown diffuser arguments and regulations changing between sessions, added to all the rain so far at Silverstone this weekend, teams and drivers headed into qualifying a little unsure of their best set-up, and of who would be their closest rivals.
As a result, and in a bid to avoid the rain predicted by the weather radar, everybody came out of pits as soon as the session got underway.
Four minutes into Q1, and Sebastian Vettel's race engineer was reporting light rain at Copse. Fernando Alonso had a length trip across the gravel at Luffield after losing grip on what was becoming a slippery track.
With about six minutes of Q1 to go, the rain became much heavier. The frontrunners had got through Q1 without needing to use a set of option tyres. Heikki Kovalainen had got into Q2 by setting the sixteenth fastest time, and Toro Rosso were the team caught out by the rain.
Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi both went out in Q1, along with the usual suspects of Timo Glock, Jarno Trulli, Jerome D'Ambrosio and Vitantonio Liuzzi. Daniel Ricciardo will start his first Formula 1 race from the back of the grid.
Mark Webber was the fastest driver at this early stage of qualifying, with Pastor Maldonado second, Felipe Massa third, and Sebastian Vettel fourth.
Both Mercedes drivers came out of the pits at the beginning of Q2 on the intermediate tyres. Most of the track looked dry enough for slick tyres, although there was still standing water at Copse. Others chose to go straight out on the Pirelli soft tyre instead.
The Williams and Sauber drivers, on the dry tyres, were early occupants of the top spots on the timesheets, but then lap times began to tumble as the frontrunners took on a set of option tyres.
As Q2 came to an end, and the track continued to dry, drivers were at the top of the timesheets one minute, and in the drop zone the next. Michael Schumacher was the biggest name casualty down in P13, but only missed out on a place in Q3 by less than a tenth of a second.
Jenson Button just escaped the ignominy of missing out on the pole position shoot-out by setting the fourth fastest lap in the closing stages of Q2.
Felipe Massa ended Q2 as the fastest driver, ahead of Mark Webber and Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso. Lewis Hamilton was down in eighth and Paul di Resta, who finished Q2 in ninth, again out-qualified Force India team-mate Adrian Sutil, who will start the British Grand Prix from P11.
Both Red Bull cars led the field out onto the track as Q3 got underway, eager to get another good qualifying result. More rain was expected before the end of qualifying, and all but Kamui Kobayashi were determined to get a good lap under their belts just in case the heavens opened once again.
Vettel was first over the line but his time was beaten straightaway by Webber. Alonso was up into third on his first attempt but McLaren were struggling. Button was over a second off the pace of Webber once the first set of lap times were in, and Hamilton was over two seconds slower.
The frontrunners all dived back into the pits for a fresh set of tyres and a drop more fuel, but just as they re-emerged from the pits, the rain started to fall again. It was only light rain, but the track was too wet for times to improve. Lewis Hamilton could not improve on his tenth place, and Mark Webber denied team-mate Sebastian Vettel his eighth pole position of the season.
British Grand Prix 2011: Provision Qualifying Result
|1||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull||1:30.399||19||Report|
|2||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:30.431||19||Report|
|6||15||Paul di Resta||Force India||1:31.929||14||Report|
|11||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India||1:32.617||14||Report|
|17||20||Heikki Kovalainen||Team Lotus||1:34.821||9||Report|
|18||19||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso||1:35.245||7||Report|
|19||18||Sebastien Buemi||Toro Rosso||1:35.749||7||Report|
|20||24||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing||1:36.203||7|
|21||21||Jarno Trulli||Team Lotus||1:36.456||4||Report|
|22||25||Jerome D'Ambrosio||Virgin Racing||1:37.154||6|
|23||23||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Hispania Racing||1:37.484||7||Report|
|24||22||Daniel Ricciardo||Hispania Racing||1:38.059||6||Report|
|107% qualifying time||1:39.156|