Mark Webber took pole position for the British Grand Prix ahead of his team mate Sebastian Vettel, with Fernando Alonso in third just a tenth of second off pole position. The McLarens were over a second behind with Jenson Button, while Lewis Hamilton was disappointed to be down in 10th place for his home Grand Prix.
Webber said that the front row lock out didn’t prove anything after the row over the throttle mapping in the run up to qualifying. At an emergency meeting of the Technical Working group it was decided that the cars would all run with 10% throttle open when the driver lifts off, Red Bull’s least favoured option.
“The last three years our team has turned up early and left late. What has happened in last few months is years of preparation to put ourselves in this position. It’s all about interpretation of rules. We’re still here, I don’t think the fans are 1% interested in the technical thing. Let’s just keep the rules simple and get on with the racing.”
Alonso, who survived a scare in Q1 when he went off track into some mud but managed to get out again, said it was Ferrari’s best qualifying of the season, “We are closer than ever. Today we are quicker and tomorrow we can put some pressure on them.”
All the cars rushed out at the start of qualifying because showers were forecast and after a few minutes light race started falling. Fernando Alonso went off track but managed to escape by driving through a muddy section.
Most drivers were carrying a few laps worth of fuel and turned a series of laps in Q1, rather than go out for a single lap blast.
Daniel Ricciardo was making his debut for Hispania this weekend but he wasn’t able to do enough in the brief period when the track was dry at the start. He qualified half a second slower than team mate Tonio Liuzzi.
The rain fell heavily with five minutes of Q1 remaining and Lotus’ Heikki Kovalainen had by then done a great job to get ahead of both Toro Rossos, who were knocked out.
In Q2 there was a tough decision to be made on what tyre to run as there were some damp patches, especially around Copse corner, while the south side of the circuit was dry enough for slicks.
The rain stopped and the track began to ramp up very quickly and the lap times tumbled. It was all about timing, being on the soft tyre at the right time. Two men who used to excel in these conditions were eliminated, Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello.
Paul di Resta again beat his team mate, Adrian Sutil, the seventh time in nine races. He ended up in sixth place, his best grid slot of his F1 career to date. Pastor Maldonado got through into the top ten for the third time this season.
BRITISH GRAND PRIX, Silverstone, Qualifying
1. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m30.399s
2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m30.431s + 0.032
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m30.516s + 0.117
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m31.124s + 0.725
5. Jenson Button McLaren 1m31.989s + 1.590
6. Paul di Resta Force India 1m31.929s + 1.530
7. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m31.933s + 1.534
8. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m32.128s + 1.729
9. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m32.209s + 1.810
10. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m32.376s + 1.977
11. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m32.617s + 0.977
12. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m32.624s + 0.984
13. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m32.656s + 1.016
14. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m32.734s + 1.094
15. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1m33.119s + 1.479
16. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m33.805s + 2.165
17. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1m34.821s + 3.181
18. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1m35.245s + 2.575
19. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1m35.749s + 3.079
20. Timo Glock Virgin 1m36.203s + 3.533
21. Jarno Trulli Lotus 1m36.456s + 3.786
22. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 1m37.154s + 4.484
23. Tonio Liuzzi HRT 1m37.484s + 4.814
24. Daniel Ricciardo HRT 1m38.059s + 5.389