Sebastian Vettel declared himself ‘extremely happy’ after collecting his first ever F1 pole position on home soil at Hockenheim.
However, Red Bull didn’t show their usual qualifying dominance in Hockenheim today. A mistake on his final flying lap meant that Mark Webber will start tomorrow’s race only in fourth place. The two Ferrari drivers, led by Fernando Alonso, separate the two RB6s.
Alonso was fastest in Q1 and Q2, and looked to have pole position sewn up with a fast lap early in Q3. However, Vettel set a 1:13.791 on his final flying lap, and Alonso’s response was just 0.002 secs slower.
“That was extremely exciting, especially in Q3,” said Vettel. “I knew that both times I went out I only had one timed lap, so I had to get it right. It's difficult here, there are some places that can easily lead you into a mistake on this track. If you push too much then you can lose the edge of the tyres and some time.”
“My final lap wasn't 100% perfect and there were a couple of places where I went over the limit, which cost me some time. But, in the end, it was enough – although only just – to stay ahead and get the pole. I am extremely happy – thanks to the team.”
“It is the first time I am on pole at home, but the main challenge will come tomorrow.”
Webber may not have had the pace to challenge Vettel or Alonso, but a mistake on his final lap meant that he was unable to beat Felipe Massa to third, and will instead start alongside the Brazilian on the second row.
“I made a mistake into Turn one on my final timed lap,” admitted Webber. “I turned in a little bit late and cut the kerb, which took me out wide so I had to abandon the lap.
“It was a shame I couldn't take advantage of the improving track conditions at the end of the session; it wasn't the best day for me. I let the boys down a bit, but Seb did a good lap for pole.
“Fourth is still not too bad – let's see what we can do from there in tomorrow's race.”
Christian Horner had high praise for his German driver after qualifying, and is hoping that they can convert these good grid positions into strong race results.
“It was a fantastic lap from Sebastian to get pole at his home race, albeit by the tightest of margins,” he said.
“Mark was right up there throughout the two qualifying sessions and again the drivers were split by very little. Unfortunately he ran wide at Turn one at the start of his last timed lap, but first and fourth is still a strong team result and it promises to be a good race tomorrow.”