Fernando Alonso coped best with the wet conditions once again to claim his second consecutive pole position in very similar circumstances to his last at Silverstone, defeating both Red Bull drivers. Rain fell at the start of Q2 and gradually got heavier which led to calls from the Ferrari driver to suspend running, but he didn't seem unsettled at all when he did go out.
Q1 was the only session to take place in fully dry conditions and the McLarens were looking strong, going quick enough on the hard tyres to reach Q2, as did the Alonso, Vettel and Webber. Michael Schumacher adopted a similar approach but Mercedes couldn't have cut it finer as the seven-time champion squeezed into the top seventeen by 0.055s on his final lap. Jean-Eric Vergne was the unfortunate driver to drop out following Schumacher's improvement and the Frenchman was joined in the drop zone by the drivers from Caterham, Marussia and HRT.
Agonisingly for the teams, rain began to fall before Q2 got underway and the drivers were forced to go out on intermediates. The weather was only getting worse and it was imperative to post a fast time as early as possible. Many of the pole contenders cleared the bar safely but Felipe Massa couldn't do so in the second Ferrari, nor could Romain Grosjean who failed to make the top ten for the first time all season. Daniel Ricciardo was the first driver eliminated with the Saubers of Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi next up. Massa ended up fourteenth with Grosjean fifteenth ahead of Bruno Senna and a disappointed Nico Rosberg.
Full wet tyres were the only option for Q3 and Red Bull were right on the pace immediately. Their biggest problem was trying to stay out of each other's way as Vettel found out when he came across a wall of spray from Webber's car as he completed a flying lap. With seconds ticking away, Mark grabbed provisional pole on a 1:41.680 but Alonso broke into the 1:40s, ensuring he would be the last man to take the chequered flag in the process.
Webber improved on his last lap but could only halve the gap between himself and Alonso and that margin was big enough for his teammate to slot into, Vettel snatching second on a 1:41.026. Pole was already in the bag for Alonso but the Spaniard rubbed everyone's nose in it with another scorching lap, a 1:40.621.
With Webber dropping five places due to a change of gearbox, the second row will be an all-German affair with Michael Schumacher and Nico Hulkenberg both putting in outstanding performances in the Mercedes and Force India respectively. Pastor Maldonado will start fifth while the McLarens will be praying for a return of dry weather, after only qualifying seventh and eighth. Jenson Button outqualified Lewis Hamilton for the first time this year and will start sixth due to Webber's penalty. Hamilton is seventh on the grid with Webber alongside while Paul Di Resta and Kimi Raikkonen make up the fifth row.
The second half of the grid will also change when penalties are applied with Romain Grosjean and Nico Rosberg dropping to 20th and 22nd respectively.