Webber takes an electrifying pole in Germany
Mark Webber has taken his third pole position of the season to start from P1 for the second consecutive race at the Nurburgring overnight.
Webber set his lap within the first five minutes, which saw Alonso and Hamilton swap fastest times before the RBR-7 put four-tenths between the Australian and his nearest competitor.
‘The form’s been getting a little bit better over the last couple of races,’ said Webber post-qualifying.
‘The boys did a great job with the car. They had some pretty late nights in the lead up to this event.
‘If someone was to get me, they’d deserve it because I couldn’t have gotten much more.’
Despite starting from pole twice this season, Webber has failed to lead a single lap so far in 2011, often conceding his position off the line.
‘I’ll be in there [tomorrow] pushing very, very hard, don’t worry,’ he said confidently.
The first stint of Q3 saw Sebastian Vettel follow him closely, slotting in behind his teammate by little more than a tenth, keeping Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari at bay by a further 0.4 seconds.
‘That was a good lap. That was a wicked lap…’
-Lewis Hamilton, team radio
It was Hamilton, however, who throw his unlikely hat into the ring to compete for pole during the Q3’s second stint, posting a time faster than anyone in the first sector.
‘It was one of the happiest and most comforting laps I’ve ever had, it’s just incredible,’ commented a joyful Hamilton.
The Englishman, however – who spent most of the weekend talking his chances down – fell painfully short, with less than one-tenth separating him from Webber, not that he seemed to mind.
‘We definitely underestimated how good the car would be when we went to light fuel,’ he added in the post-qualifying press conference.
‘A huge congratulations to my team, a fantastic effort. I’m really happy I could put it up here for them.’
Hamilton’s last-ditch efforts meant that Vettel was relegated beyond the first row of the grid for the first time this season, breaking a fourteen race streak.
Vettel: I’d like to be a bit further up
‘It’s not really a disappointment,’ said a slightly downcast Vettel. ‘Obviously I’d like to be a bit further up, but it was a tough session overall.’
‘I’m looking forward to tomorrow. If it’s dry we have a very good chance. [But] with the weather here you never know. The rain is on the way, the question how much and when.
Felipe Massa finds himself in P5 despite lapping half a second slower than his teammate, sharing his row with Nico Rosberg.
Jenson Button could only manage a disappointing P7, unable to find composure with his McLaren as easily as his Hamilton.
Sutil and Petrov followed on from the 2009 World Champion, with the World Championship record holder ‘s best time only good enough for P10.
Williams felt the pressure early, with both Maldonado and Barrichello forced to dip into their supply of soft tyres to make it through to Q2.
Force India was the next team to risk falling at the first break, with di Resta too using up on set of three option compounds to comfortably qualify for the afternoon’s second session.
It would ultimately be the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi, however, who would be caught out as he remained in his garage as his rivals completed their fast laps to avoid joining the bottom seven.
The Japanese joined Kovalinen, Glock, Chandhok, d’Ambrosio, Liuzzi and Ricciardo to fall at the first hurdle, and will start from the back of the grid.
Qualifying’s second session saw a flurry of time improvement in the final few minutes, with Schumacher, Petrov, Sutil, di Resta and Heidfeld all hovering along the elimination zone.
Schumacher confirmed his place with one minute to go, though he his eighth place quickly fell away to tenth with Petrov and Sutil posting late fast laps.
Heidfeld, one of Schumacher’s many compatriots at the German Grand Prix, failed to pip him for tenth, heading di Resta, Maldonado, Barrichello, Perez, Buemi and Alguersuari as the midfield teams to be eliminated.
It was the tenth time this season that first-year Pastor Maldonado had outqualified his teammate Barrichello. The Brazilian complained to his team over the radio that his car was not as good as he had expected after practice earlier that morning.
The 2011 German Grand Prix from the Nurburgring starts tomorrow evening at 10PM AEST.