German GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report
Vettel takes pole position for home race
After Fernando Alonso topped Q1 and Q2, Sebastian Vettel produced a strong Q3 lap to beat the Ferrari driver to the German Grand Prix pole by just two thousandths of a second!
Vettel broke the timing beam in 1:13.791 and Alonso in 1:13.793 as Ferrari signalled a return to strong form after unfortunate races in Valencia and Silverstone. Their respective team mates, Felipe Massa (1:14.290) and Mark Webber (1:14.347) will share the second row of the grid.
It was Vettel's third pole in a row and his first in Germany. "It would be interesting to calculate how much two thousandths actually is in terms of distance," he grinned. "Fernando was very strong and we knew it was going to be difficult. I had to push really hard. Q3 was exciting and to get it right was tough. You can be easily led into a mistake here and lose the edge of the tyres. My last run wasn't 100% perfect but it was just enough. It was not a nice feeling setting the time and then waiting to see if it would survive."
"I think that, unlike Silverstone, the clean side of the grid is worth quite a bit here and so hopefully I'll get a good start, but it's a long race and everything is possible."
Alonso professed to be happy with his first front row start of the year rather than disappointed at missing out on pole.
"It's a big step forward," he said. "The car has been competitive all weekend and I'm very confident in it. We lost pole by a small margin but the points are on Sunday not Saturday, so I will just stay focused - we're going in the right direction. We expected the Red Bulls to give something more in Q3 even though it was very close in free practice, Q1 and Q2. But it's good to be fighting for a pole after 10 races, a bit longer than I wanted, but good nevertheless."
Massa was half a second adrift of Alonso but claimed that he would have been closer if he had got his sectors together on his crucial final lap but is optimistic about the race at a circuit where he has always been strong.
The McLarens share the third row with Jenson Button (1:14.427) outqualifying Lewis Hamilton (1:14.566) for the first time since China back in April. After the 2008 champion there was a half second gap to Robert Kubica's Renault (1:15.079), the Pole just three hundredths quicker than Rubens Barrichello (1:15.109) who put his Williams-Cosworth into the top 10 for the sixth time this season.
Michael Schumacher was a tenth quicker than Nico Rosberg in Q1 but Nico turned the tables to pip Michael by a hundredth in Q2, which was enough to eliminate Schumacher from the Q3 shoot-out. Rosberg (1:15.179) went on to qualify ninth with Nico Hulkenberg (1:15.339) also putting his Williams in the top 10 on home ground.
Looking ahead to the race, Vettel said that from what the teams have learned, the option tyre which all the leading runners have qualified on, should be good for 10 laps or more, "then the hard tyre, we know, we can drive all the way to Hungary! So the strategy should be straightforward."
Alonso, however, thinks that it might not be so clear cut: "In free practice we were lapping in 1:16, then in qualifying we were in the 1:13s, so that was putting more demands on the rubber and then of course we have full fuel at the start of the race. It should be interesting."