Alonso masters the rain again to take German GP pole at Hockenheim
21 July, 2012
Jul.21 (Apex) Two weeks ago exactly our headline after qualifying at Silverstone referred to Fernando Alonso as the rain master for his feat in claiming pole position in torrid conditions, yet again the Ferrari driver further enhanced his reputation as the rain master of this era by powering to pole position for the German Grand Prix at rain soaked Hockenheim…
His laps, with rain pelting down and puddles just about everywhere, was a show of sheer gutsiness, tenacity and masterful car control. The best lap of 1 minute 40.621 seconds was almost half a second up on his closest rival, and notably his slower of the two laps, which he did in a final flurry, would have been enough for top spot too. The Spaniard’s performance can be aptly described as a comprehensive trouncing of the opposition.
Alonso said after scoring his 22nd F1 pole position, “Sometimes it’s good to check the circuit conditions as we did in Q3. Going into Turn 6 was not easy for anybody, a lot of aquaplaning, but everything went well for us. We made a good strategy call doing a pit stop in Q3 so we could have fresher tyres in the last minute. I think that helped us a lot to improve the lap time.”
“It has been a strange weekend for conditions on the track, but the car was performing well in both conditions so we will see what happens tomorrow,” added the championship points leader.
Next up were the Red Bull duo with Sebastian Vettel taking second fastest from Mark Webber, the pair almost tripping each other up during their final runs, prompting some annoyed waving from Vettel’s cockpit.
Vettel reflected, “In these conditions it was tricky, you can lose the car a bit in the rivers, but I think we had the car today to put on pole, we need to look at the strategy Alonso touched on, maybe that was better but in these conditions it is a bit of a lottery. Fortunately we didn’t lose the car and we are on the front row which should be good. I am starting on the inside as well so we will see what happens.”
Webber, who will drop five positions for an unscheduled gearbox change, said, “The session was tricky for all of us, dodgy conditions. We could have done better here and there. We could have stopped [like Alonso], but we’re third, which is eighth with the penalty for a gearbox change, and looking to come forward tomorrow.”
Up next was Michael Schumacher, who only narrowly made it out of Q1, but then showed his skills in the rain (after all he was the rain master during the ‘first’ chapter of his career) to take fourth place on the timing sheets.
Making it three German ‘homeboys’ in the top five was Nico Hulkenberg who mastered the conditions to claim fifth fastest time of the session. This means, with Webber’s demotion, there will be three German drivers starting from the first two rows of the grid!
McLaren again battled with the Pirelli wet tyres, struggling to generate heat into them, and as a result their two world champions Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton will start the race seventh and eighth respectively.
Hamilton summed up the afternoon from his perspective, “We did our last laps first and then the track got better and better and I guess the other guys were able to post quicker times after that. The track was drying so we would have got better if we had one more lap, but it was like driving on ice for us.”
It was a good afternoon for Force India, as Paul di Resta’s ninth place ensures that both drivers start in the top ten.
Lotus have become accustomed to battling near the front of the pack this season, but in qualifying they fell short and although Kimi Raikkonen did make it into Q3, he was slowest of the top ten – a whopping five seconds down on Alonso’s best.
Again showing impressive pace and control in adverse conditions was Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo who only just missed out on Q3 and will start from 11th on the grid. His rookie teammate Jean Eric Vergne failed to make it beyond Q1.
Other drivers who will have to be disappointed with their qualifying in Germany include:
- the Sauber pair of Sergio Perez (12th) and Kamui Kobayashi (13th) who had a car far more capable than mid pack;
- Felipe Massa (14th)who has simply not come to grips with the Ferrari F2012 around Hockenheim in any conditions and again massively outperformed by his teammate;
- Romain Grosjean (15th) and his crew simply got his sums wrong on the day;
- Nico Rosberg (16th) found himself on the wrong tyres at the wrong time;
- Bruno Senna (17th) again comprehensively out shone by his teammate.
Red Bull and Ferrari arrived in Germany on a high, and ahead of the grand prix they will be satisfied that they have maximised their packages for the race at Hockenheim. It remains to be seen if McLaren are really down and out, or can fight themselves out of the ever growing hole they find themselves in.
Really the biggest factor on race day will probably be the weather, already it has played havoc with the weekend and ripped up well laid out plans and strategies. In the space of a several minutes Hockenheim can turn from a dry sunny place to a dark, sombre very wet place… Whatever the case an intriguing grand prix is on the cards.
But back to qualifying, as Ferrari mechanics stood and applauded their hero, prompting BBC’s David Coulthard apt comment: “I think the other drivers would also give Fernando Alonso a round of applause. That is a sizeable gap in very difficult conditions.”
German Grand Prix Qualifying – Saturday, 21 July 2012
|2||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:16.393||1:38.309||1:41.026||23|
|3||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:16.500||1:39.382||1:41.496||24|
|5||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:16.271||1:39.467||1:43.501||24|
|9||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:16.352||1:39.703||1:44.889||26|
|23||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1:19.912||8|
|Q1 107% Time||1:20.991|
Note – Grosjean, Rosberg, Webber drop five grid places for unscheduled gearbox changes.
- Practice 2: Maldonado fastest as rain arrives in force at Hockenheim
- Rain master Alonso ends 31 race drought to take pole at soggy Silverstone
- Practice 3: Alonso fastest as Silverstone circuit finally dries up
- Monaco Practice 2: Button ends day on top in rain affected session
- Shanghai Qualifying: Rosberg takes his maiden pole as Mercedes dominate