German GP - Qualifying
Rain intervened to spice up the qualifying action for the German Grand Prix and through it all came Mark Webber to claim his first pole position of his long career. The rain shower in the second and third rounds of qualifying ensured a few surprises
up and down the field, but as expected it is once again Red Bull Renault against Brawn Mercedes at the head of the field.
The fastest times in qualification - as ever - came right as the chequered flag flew and by that point the circuit had dried sufficiently to allow the remaining ten runners to lap the 5.148km circuit on the slick option Bridgestone Potenza rubber.
Lewis Hamilton claimed the provisional pole as the chequered flag flew only to be bumped down to fifth in the next few seconds as his rivals flashed across the line. Webber was understandably delighted with his ‘very special’ pole lap and he will be (privately) equally as pleased to see team-mate Sebastian Vettel down in fourth position in the sister RB5. Rubens Barrichello
joins Webber on the front row of the grid in the leading Brawn entry and the Brazilian veteran was the star of the second round of qualifying as he alone opted to switch to slick tyres as his rivals lapped on the intermediate rubber. Barrichello comprehensively topped the session. A few minutes later in the final round of qualifying, Barrichello crossed the line to take second on the grid. Jenson Button
had struggled for much of the weekend and is therefore pretty happy to line up third just two-tenths off the pace of Webber. Vettel was fourth just a fraction of a second slower admitting his best lap was ‘not magnificent’ and that he could have found more time in the car. The race is long and the British Grand Prix winner certainly has the race pace to make a fight out of it.
McLaren have flown various components to Germany over the race weekend and Lewis Hamilton made best use of those aero updates to qualify in fifth position just ahead of team-mate Heikki Kovalainen who does not have all of the new components on his MP4-24.
It is a big turnaround for the Woking-based team as Hamilton had failed to make it out of the first round of qualifying in all of the last three Grand Prix.
We all know Adrian Sutil runs well in tricky slippery conditions and this afternoon he reminded us of that fact as he qualified his Force India Mercedes as stunning seventh on the grid ahead of both Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen
. The updates brought to Silverstone last time out have certainly helped Sutil, but so too has the cold and damp conditions at the Nurburgring.
With the Ferrari duo struggling for pace, Nelson Piquet rounded out the top ten in the leading Renault and for the first time in his entire Formula One career, he has out-qualified team-mate and double world champion Fernando Alonso
who starts 12th after spinning on his final lap in the second round of qualifying. Nick Heidfeld
splits the Renault duo in the leading BMW Sauber while team-mate Robert Kubica starts back in 16th position. Williams Toyota will be disappointed to see Kazuki Nakajima and Nico Rosberg in 13th and 15th positions respectively.
Another disappointed team this afternoon will be Toyota who line-up with Jarno Trulli
14th and Timo Glock a very poor 19th. Glock in particular has struggled all weekend long with his new engineer to extract any speed or balance from the TF109 challenger.
Sebastien Buemi led the Toro Rosso challenge in 17th ahead of Fisichella, Glock and the under pressure Sebastien Bourdais in the second STR4.
With further rain expected on race day, Red Bull and Mark Webber are looking strong at the head of the field as the Australian veteran looks to convert his first pole position into his first Grand Prix win.