Fernando Alonso continued his & Ferrari’s upturn in form as he grabbed pole position for the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim in a wet n’ thrilling qualifying session. The two Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were second and third fastest. Webber though has a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change so Michael Schumacher will inherit third place for tomorrow’s race.
All the action came at the fag end of the session as a drying track meant it was best until the very end and it was Ferrari & Alonso who elected to strap on a fresh set of warmed up wet weather tyres and set his two fastest laps right at the very end. Though the Red Bulls were fast enough, it seemed Vettel was held up by his own teammate Webber as he set his fastest time.
Michael Schumacher was fourth fastest for Mercedes with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg fifth, Williams’ Pastor Maldonado in sixth, the McLarens of Jenson Button & Lewis Hamilton in seventh and eighth, Paul Di Resta ninth and Kimi Raikkonen in tenth.
The German Grand Prix returned to Hockenheim after a year and it was a wet welcome for the drivers as the practice and qualifying sessions were affected by rain. The first session started off in the dry but the rain came during the second session but though it eased off, there still was enough water on the track to force the teams to set their lap times on the full wets.
Q1 started with the threat of rain looming large and in in initial ten minutes all of the field had set down a banker lap as they aimed to be up in the top seventeen for the first session. McLaren were the early pace setters with Lewis Hamilton leading Jenson Button at the top of the timesheets. Ferrari were a shade slower with Fernando Alonso & Felipe Massa just behind. All the initial running was done on the harder tyre but as teams aimed for faster times they slapped on the softer tyres for a second run. At the end of the session, the fastest time was of Kimi Raikkonen – on the harder tyre – with Sergio Perez a shade slower on the softer tyre and Nico Rosberg third again on the harder tyre. The ones to drop out were Jean Eric Vergne, Heikki Kovalainen, Vitaly Petrov, Charles Pic, Timo Glock and the two HRTs of Pedro De La Rosa & Narain Karthikeyan.
Q2 saw the rainfall arriving right on time and everyone took to the Intermediate tyres and tippy-toed around the track – being the top ten was the name of the game. Rain masters Schumacher & Hamilton were the early pace setters with the lap times being a full 20 seconds slower than in the dry! As the rain intensity increased steadily even full wets were not enough to make the cars go any faster and as the session ended the ones to miss the cut were Daniel Ricciardo, Sergio Perez, Kamui Kobayashi, Felipe Massa, Romain Grosjean, Bruno Senna & Nico Rosberg.
Sunday’s race is also expected to be affected by rain so it will be well nigh impossible to predict a victor, but recent formbook points to a Alonso victory but the Red Bulls are not to be counted out and Schumacher, Raikkonen, Button and Hamilton will also keep believing that they have a shot at the win. I’m putting my hypothetical quid on Alonso though.