Webber beats Hamilton to German GP pole
23 July, 2011
Jul.23 (PVM) Mark Webber claimed pole position for the German Grand Prix with an assertive performance at the wheel of the Red Bull RB7 in qualifying at the Nurburgring, which enjoyed spells of sunshine through the clouds that hovered around all session long.
The Australian was untouchable in Q3, his two laps better than anyone else in the final shootout, and will start from top spot on the grid for the third time this season – a Red Bull driver has been on pole for all ten races so far this season.
Webber said afterwards, “My form has been getting better and this track not been too bad for me in the past. The boys did a great job on the car – there were some late nights in the lead up to here but we got it together in the end. After my lap I thought that if someone gets me they deserve it because I was at my limit and it was a great lap.”
Starting from second place will be Lewis Hamilton who defied the form book and all predictions by challenging strongly for pole position, despite claiming 24 hours earlier that the McLaren was not top slot material. The Briton was a mere 0.055 seconds short of Webber’s best and looked the best of the rest throughout the afternoon session.
Hamilton explained, “The upgrades this weekend – updates and improvements to engine modes – have helped massively. I underestimated how good the car would be when we went to light fuel load. It was one of the happiest and most comforting laps I have ever had, I felt incredible. We are not far from them [Red Bull] so I’m very happy.”
Runaway championship leader and local hero Sebastian Vettel had no answer to his team mate despite a last gasp attempt which fell short by 0.137 seconds. he will head up the second row, behind the sister Red Bull, for his home Grand Prix. Vettel will not start from the front row for first time in 15 races!
Vettel said, “It is not a disappointment. I would like to be further up but it was a tough session. The balance was not right yesterday and although we made a bit of a recovery today, we should have been quicker.”
The Ferrari 150 Italia of Fernando Alonso, who has looked strong all weekend, lacked the little bit extra when it mattered and will start from fourth on the grid.
The top four were separated by only 0.363 seconds which sets the scene for a titanic battle for top honours in Germany.
Alonso’s team mate Felipe Massa will head up the third row which he will share with Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes GP who ended sixth best on the day.
Jenson Button ended almost a second down on his McLaren team mate and will start the race from seventh on the grid after suffering from lack of grip and mysteriously losing pace in the time between the morning practice and the afternoon qualy.
“I pulled out of the lap at the end, I could not find any grip,” Button told the BBC. “I really struggled. This morning the car was good, but this afternoon I had too much front end. We took some front wing out but that gave me understeer. It is very surprising to be about 1.1 seconds behind Lewis. Something is not right. The pace isn’t there. It was there this morning, so I don’t know where it has gone.”
Going the extra mile on home turf was Force India’s Adrian Sutil who dug deep and impressed massively with the eighth fastest time.
Vitaly Petrov was again best of the Renault drivers , making it through to Q3 at the expense of his more experienced team mate Nick Heidfeld. The Russian will start from ninth on the grid.
Local legend Michael Schumacher – who has won five Grands Prix at the Nurburgring – was tenth in the Mercedes GP, over a second down on team mate Rosberg. Nevertheless Schumi can still boast hordes of fans in Germany (and across the globe for that matter) and on home soil they were out in force, although most wearing the red of the seven times World Champion’s golden years at Ferrari…
Q1: Kobayashi caught out
Biggest scalp in Q1 was Kamui Kobayashi who blamed traffic coupled to a general lack of pace for failing to progress into Q2. The popular Japanese driver will start from 18th on the grid with a spare set of tyres for the race.
Kovalainen will start from 19th while his tema mate – making his Grand Prix debut for Lotus, will start from 21st and will be happy to be less than a second down on his more experinced team mate.
Chandhok, who replaced Lotus regular Jarno Trulli for the Nurburgring race, said afterwards, “It is so different for me, I have never driven on slicks before and ever used DRS, so there is a lot to learn. Team boss Tony Fernandes said to me ‘get within a second and you should be proud of that’. I knew there was a good possibility I would do some races this year, and a couple of weekends ago I knew there was a chance I would race here. Jarno feels terrible – it is awful watching someone else driving your car. It’s tough for him I’m sure. He’ll be back for Budapest. It’s a one-off for me, so we will see.”
In only his second qualifying ever Daniel Ricciardo was slowest of the bunch in the HRT but will start from 23rd as his team mate Vitantonio Liuzzi was given a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change. Liuzzi only suffers a one place drop as his time was only good for 23rd.
At the top end Massa was quickest in Q1 from Sutil, Heidfeld, Schumacher, Di Resta, Rosberg, Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel, Maldonado and Webber 11th.
Q2: Schumacher scrapes through
It would have been a tough one to bear for uber local hero Micahel Schumacher if he faiiledto make it through into Q3 with his younger (local hero) tema mate comfortably through. Fate was kind and Schumi scraped through at the expense of (another local hero) Nick Heidfeld who again fell short in qualifying. He will start from 11th.
Force India’s Paul Di Resta failed to match the pace of his inspired (local hero) team mate Adrian Sutil – the German well over half a second up on the Scot, who again was best of the rookies. Di Resta starts from twelfth followed by the Williams pair of Pastor Maldonado (13th) and Rubens Barrichello (14th).
Mexican rookie Sergio Perez again was best of the Sauber drivers, making it into Q2 but no further. He will start from 15th ahead of the Toro Rosso pair: Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari who were 16th and 17th respectively.
Order at the top of the timing screens at the end of Q2 was: Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso, Webber, Rosberg, Button, Massa, Sutil, Petrov and Schumacher tenth.
Saturday, 23 July – Qualifying Result
|1||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull||1:33.096||1:31.311||1:30.079||18|
|3||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:32.973||1:31.017||1:30.216||16|
|6||8||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP||1:32.785||1:31.343||1:31.263||22|
|8||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India||1:32.286||1:31.809||1:32.010||18|
|10||7||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP||1:32.603||1:32.180||1:32.482||18|
|12||15||Paul di Resta||Force India||1:32.651||1:32.560||15|
|16||18||Sebastien Buemi||Toro Rosso||1:33.635||1:33.546||11|
|17||19||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso||1:33.658||1:33.698||11|
|20||24||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing||1:36.400||12|
|22||25||Jerome d’Ambrosio||Virgin Racing||1:36.641||12|
|Q1 107% Time||1:38.253|