Formula 1

Webber Takes Pole in Germany, Hamilton Impresses to Secure Second

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Mark Webber took his second consecutive pole position for Red Bull today at the Nürburgring but the star of the qualifying session was Lewis Hamilton, who put in an excellent lap to out-perform his car and put himself on the front row of the grid.

This meant that Sebastian Vettel could qualify only third and, for the first time this season, the world champion will start a grand prix from behind the front row.

Fernando Alonso failed to convert his practice pace into a competitive qualifying lap, taking only fourth place, some four tenths of a second behind Webber. Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa starts from fifth, alongside Nico Rosberg.

Jenson Button was 1.1 seconds off his team-mate and qualified down in seventh, and will be hoping for some rain tomorrow if he is going to have any chance of victory. Adrian Sutil, Vitaly Petrov and Michael Schumacher make up the top ten.

There was blue sky over the Nürburgring as qualifying got underway, and the threatened rain failed to materialise during the hour-long session. It was still very cold though, and getting heat into the tyre compounds was one of the big challenges for the drivers today.

The front-running teams all opted for the medium tyre compound for Q1 to begin with, despite it being over a second a lap slower than the softer option tyre. Lewis Hamilton set the early pace with a lap of 1:32.934.

As Q1 reached its climax, the midfield teams, including Renault and Mercedes, decided that they had to sacrifice a set of soft tyres to guarantee a place in Q2. Felipe Massa in the Ferrari did the same, which gave him the fastest lap of Q1 – a 1:31.826. Fernando Alonso did not use the option tyres in Q1, and neither did the drivers at McLaren or Red Bull.

Along with the six drivers from the three new teams, Kamui Kobayashi bowed out of qualifying at the end of Q1. Heikki Kovalainen will start behind Kobayashi in P18 and Timo Glock out-qualified the Team Lotus of Karun Chandhok to take P19.

Vitantonio Liuzzi, who qualified in P23, will drop to the back of the grid after the five-place penalty for changing his gearbox is applied before tomorrow's race. This will promote Daniel Ricciardo, who was only 0.025 seconds slower than his more experienced team-mate, up to P23.

Lewis Hamilton again set the early pace in Q2, and stayed at the top of the timesheets for the remainder of the session. The McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari drivers chose to do only one run on soft tyres in Q2, but everybody else needed a second.

Michael Schumacher got into the top ten with a last-ditch effort, as did Adrian Sutil and Vitaly Petrov, who edged out Renault team-mate Nick Heidfeld. Paul di Resta missed out on Q3, as did the two Williams drivers, Sergio Perez, and both Toro Rossos.

Fernando Alonso was the first man out of the pits as the green light signalled the start of Q3. His first effort was a 1:30.866, but it was swiftly beaten by a 1:30.725 from Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton's reign at the top of the timesheets was short-lived though, with Mark Webber putting in a time of 1:30.251. Sebastian Vettel's first effort of 1:30.352 was a tenth slower than his team-mate.

As the pole contenders dived back into the pits, Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg and Adrian Sutil went out for their one and only run in Q3. Then, with the countdown clock ticking down below the two minute mark, the pole contenders emerged from their garages.

Alonso's lap was full of personal-best sectors, but he could not threaten the Red Bull drivers. Webber put in a lap of 1:30.079, improving on his first attempt. Hamilton completed a 'wicked' lap of 1:30.134 on his second attempt, a time sufficient to keep qualifying specialist Sebastian Vettel off the front row.


German Grand Prix 2011: Provisional Qualifying Results

Pos No Driver Team Time Laps
1 2 Australia Mark Webber Austria Red Bull 1:30.079 18 Report
2 3 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton United Kingdom McLaren 1:30.134 15
3 1 Germany Sebastian Vettel Austria Red Bull 1:30.216 16 Report
4 5 Spain Fernando Alonso Italy Ferrari 1:30.442 16 Report
5 6 Brazil Felipe Massa Italy Ferrari 1:30.910 19 Report
6 8 Germany Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes 1:31.263 22 Report
7 4 United Kingdom Jenson Button United Kingdom McLaren 1:31.288 14
8 14 Germany Adrian Sutil India Force India 1:32.010 18 Report
9 10 Russian Federation Vitaly Petrov United Kingdom Renault 1:32.187 16
10 7 Germany Michael Schumacher Germany Mercedes 1:32.482 18 Report
11 9 Germany Nick Heidfeld United Kingdom Renault 1:32.215 16
12 15 United Kingdom Paul di Resta India Force India 1:32.560 15 Report
13 12 Venezuela Pastor Maldonado United Kingdom Williams 1:32.635 13 Report
14 11 Brazil Rubens Barrichello United Kingdom Williams 1:33.043 18 Report
15 17 Mexico Sergio Perez Switzerland Sauber 1:33.176 14 Report
16 18 Switzerland Sebastien Buemi Italy Toro Rosso 1:33.546 11 Report
17 19 Spain Jaime Alguersuari Italy Toro Rosso 1:33.698 11 Report
18 16 Japan Kamui Kobayashi Switzerland Sauber 1:33.786 5 Report
19 20 Finland Heikki Kovalainen United Kingdom Team Lotus 1:35.599 9 Report
20 24 Germany Timo Glock United Kingdom Virgin Racing 1:36.400 12
21 21 India Karun Chandhok United Kingdom Team Lotus 1:36.422 11 Report
22 25 Belgium Jerome D'Ambrosio United Kingdom Virgin Racing 1:36.641 12
23 23 Italy Vitantonio Liuzzi Spain HRT 1:37.011 11 Report
24 22 Australia Daniel Ricciardo Spain HRT 1:37.036 11 Report
    107% qualifying time 1:38.253


UPDATE: Sebastien Buemi was later excluded from the qualifying result after his fuel was found to be irregular. He will now start tomorrow’s race from the back of the grid. (Full story)

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David is an occasional contributer to the site on matters related to Formula 1. You can follow him on twitter at @Dr_Bean.
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