At a wet Hockenheim, Fernando Alonso stormed to pole for Sunday’s German Grand Prix. Sebastien Vettel will join him on the front row, while a five place grid penalty means Mark Webber will start eighth, with Michael Schumacher and Niko Hulkenberg making it three Germans in the top 4.
Jenson Button is 6th, Lewis Hamilton will be 7th, and Paul Di Resta will be 9th.
Q1 started dry but rain came down in Q2, and teams quickly moved from dry to intermediate, and finally full wet tyres. The lap times demonstrated the unpredictability that rain brings, especially when race day is set to be dry, as the teams are locked into their set up from the end of qualifying. Do they gamble with a dry set up that will make them slow in the race, or go for grid position hoping the notoriously poor weather forecasts that accompany F1 races turn out to be wrong? Or do they go for something in between?
This conundrum will give McLaren hope after another relatively poor qualifying. Hamilton and Button were at the top of the timesheets at various points before the rain came and they might fancy they have the correct setup for the race. However, with Alonso’s Ferrari again miles ahead of his team mate Felipe Massa, the odds are that the Spaniard will extend his lead at the top of the Drivers’ Championship.
The home crowd will have plenty to cheer, with a resurgent Schumacher doing well for Mercedes, and Hulkenberg securing his best ever qualifying position. Vettel will hope to win the race to the first corner and lead from the front, but the Red Bulls have had uncharacteristic reliability problems recently.
Button will be pleased to have qualified ahead of Hamilton but the McLarens are still struggling to switch on the tyres, especially in damp conditions, and are struggling for race pace. A podium would at least be a step in the right direction given their recent woes.
Maldonado (an adjusted 5th) and Kimi Raikkonen make up the top ten, while Nico Rosberg finds himself all the way down in seventeenth. However, we have seen numerous cars storm from the back of the grid to pick up good points, and if the weather continues to be changeable we could be set for yet another exciting race this season.
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This article was first posted on July 22, 2012