Alonso on pole at saturated Hockenheim
21 July 2012 – Fernando Alonso has picked up his second consecutive pole position, beating the field on a wet track at Hockenheim. Sebastian Vettel shares the front row, with Michael Schumacher and Nico Hülkenberg next up. The penalised Mark Webber, Romain Grosjean and Nico Rosberg will start in eighth, 20th and 22nd places.
Rain has affected all sessions so far this weekend, although the German Grand Prix itself is forecast to take place in dry conditions. This afternoon, there was much track activity early on as the field feared rain before the end of Q1. Romain Grosjean and Michael Schumacher - separated by just one thousandth of a second - narrowly avoided an early bath, but ultimately it was Toro Rosso’s Jean-Éric Vergne who was eliminated at the first hurdle for the sixth time. Behind, Charles Pic out-qualified Marussia team-mate Timo Glock for the third time.
Thunder and lightning signalled what was to come just moments before Q2, forcing all drivers to fit the Intermediate tyres. The first flying laps were the crucial ones, as the track only became wetter as the 15-minute phase progressed. Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets for his 100th Grand Prix weekend in an updated McLaren, whereas Kimi Räikkönen complained about being slowed by Sergio Pérez despite making the cut.
Felipe Massa managed just 14th place for Ferrari, rejoining from an off and narrowly being avoided by team-mate and eventual pole-sitter Alonso. The real Q2 loser was Nico Rosberg, who struggled to build up tyre temperatures and was the slowest runner; a later outing on the full Wet tyres proved hopeless, only cementing his worst grid spot of the season. At the end of Q2, Alonso toured on Wets before reporting back to the team – and indirectly to F1 governing body the FIA – that the circuit was too wet, but the shootout did start on time.
Conditions may have been extremely difficult in Q3, but not impossible. Just as the green light illuminated, the rain stopped to leave a drying track. Alonso and Ferrari’s timing was immaculate as the Spaniard was last to cross the line, picking up pole by four tenths of a second. Hülkenberg suffered a spin at the Parabolika as Webber unintentionally delayed Vettel - hidden in a ball of spray - on the latter’s final lap.
Pastor Maldonado will start fifth, ahead of a disappointed McLaren pairing as Jenson Button out-qualifies Lewis Hamilton for the first time this year. Despite that, Hamilton is now the only driver to have progressed to Q3 at all 2012 races.
Pole position in Germany is Ferrari’s 207th since 1950 and comes at a track on which the Scuderia celebrated a one-two finish when the circuit last welcomed Formula 1 two years ago. By sealing a 22nd personal pole, Alonso moves one slot ahead of arch rival Hamilton for 11th place in the all-time record book which is led by Michael Schumacher.
Today’s result also ensures that three of the five German drivers are on the front two rows of the grid.
Sunday’s 2012 German Grand Prix begins at 2pm local time (BST +1) and can also be followed through the interactive GPUpdate.net Live Race Report