Fernando Alonso led Lewis Hamilton in final practice ahead of the German Grand Prix but a heavy downpour at the end of the session looks set to change the picture dramatically for qualifying. The championship leader set the pace on the tyres but current indications are that the intermediates and full wets will be required this afternoon.
The big news overnight surrounded his title rival Mark Webber who became the third driver to incur a five place grid penalty for changing his race gearbox. The Australian joins Romain Grosjean and Nico Rosberg at a disadvantage heading into qualifying.
Rosberg was the pacesetter early in this morning's session as most drivers concentrated on high fuel running. The Mercedes man was lapping in the 1:17s and had a 2.5 second lead over Timo Glock. The very fact that the Marussia was up in second demonstrated how much fuel others were carrying.
Bruno Senna was the first to step forward and challenge Rosberg, clocking a 1:17.391 but Webber soon squeezed in front by six hundredths of a second for Red Bull. The Australian broke into the 1:16s on his next lap but he'd been beaten to it by Pastor Maldonado in the other Williams who took over at the top. Red Bull and Williams were particularly competitive in the early stages and Sebastian Vettel was the next man to go fastest, however the times were still slower than the pace set in yesterday's opening session.
The first man to beat Jenson Button's FP1 benchmark was Alonso who pulled out half a second on Vettel with a 1:16.124. The McLarens, first and second yesterday morning, hadn't commenced their qualifying simulations yet but when they did, Hamilton became the new leader on a 1:16.091. With a quarter of an hour to go, Alonso regained the lead with a 1:16.014 and that would be that as far as the on-track action was concerned, the heavy rain forecast at the start of the session arriving in huge quantities.
That left the top two unchallenged with Sergio Perez and Kimi Raikkonen beating the rain to go third and fourth ahead of the Red Bulls, led by Webber. Maldonado was seventh with Felipe Massa, Kamui Kobayashi and Bruno Senna completing the top ten. Romain Grosjean was next up for Lotus with the two Force Indias twelfth and thirteenth. Michael Schumacher was unaffected by his accident yesterday, ending the morning in fifteenth but Jenson Button won't have been happy with his session as the late deluge prevented him from doing any low fuel running, nailing him at the bottom of the leaderboard.