Vettel on pole but Alonso runs him close in German GP qualifying
Scuderia Ferrari
Vettel on pole but Alonso runs him close in German GP qualifying
Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Jul 2010   |  2:28 pm GMT  |  166 comments

Sebastian Vettel took pole position for tomorrow’s German Grand Prix, by just 2/1000ths of a second from Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso in a fantastic qualifying battle. It was Vettel’s sixth pole of the season and the 11th in his 54 Grands Prix, a ratio of 20%.

But the exciting thing was that Alonso and Ferrari had been the pace setter throughout qualifying, building on the improvement they showed in Silverstone. But on the final run, Vettel found two tenths of a second to edge out the Spaniard.


It is a huge weekend for Vettel, who needs to get a win to inject energy back into his championship campaign and get back in front of team mate Mark Webber. Vettel is seven points behind Webber and 24 – a win – behind Hamilton.

Webber wasn’t on Vettel’s level this weekend so far and qualified fourth, after making a mistake in Turn 1 on his final run. It is the first time since Bahrain that he has not started on the front row of the grid.

He qualified behind the Ferrari of Felipe Massa. That Massa was half a second slower than Alonso and yet still qualified third says a lot about the performance of Alonso, but also about how far off the pace the McLarens and Mercedes were. Button outqualified Hamilton for the first time since China. But he was six tenths slower than Vettel and Alonso in the final sector alone!

“Seven tenths behind is a little bit disappointing, ” said Button. “It was a good lap and I’m only a tenth off third. We’ve made a step forward, but not enough in qualifying, it seems.”

The morning practice had been wet, but it was fairly dry by the time qualifying started. Session one was cut short by a red flag for a large accident by Tonio Liuzzi. Coming out of the final corner, Liuzzi got up on the artificial grass, where some water was lying and the car snapped out of control, smashing into the pit wall.

Alonso set the fastest time in the first session, half a second faster than his team mate Massa, who was third behind Vettel.

Liuzzi was eliminated along with the new teams, although it was notable that Jarno Trulli’s Lotus was within a second of Jaime Alguersuari’s Toro Rosso. Also making a step was the Hispania of Bruno Senna who was only 2/10ths slower than Timo Glock in the Virgin. Di Grassi had a gearbox problem and did not take part in qualifying.

In Q2, Alonso again had the edge, but no-one was feeling very confident and all the front runners used up a set of new soft tyres for the final run in the session.

Michael Schumacher was edged out in the final seconds by the young German Nico Hulkenberg, who is managed by Schumacher’s former manager Willi Weber. Also missing out was Kobayashi, who had been very competitive in the Q1 session. Schumacher was only a few hundredths of a second slower than his team mate Nico Rosberg, but it was enough to eliminate him in front of his adoring public.

It was noticeable that Button was consistently three tenths of a second slower than Hamilton, but he was losing four tenths in final sector of the lap alone.

Having been beaten by Alonso in the first two parts of the session, Red Bull were under pressure to do what they have managed to do in the final runs of qualifying all year, which is to step up a gear, especially on the soft tyres. Vettel found the two tenths, but Ferrari’s pace has injected some real adrenalin into the second half of the championship. Now Alonso just needs to stay under the stewards’ radar tomorrow…

German Grand Prix, Hockenheim, Qualifying
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:15.152 1:14.249 1:13.791
2. Alonso Ferrari 1:14.808 1:14.081 1:13.793
3. Massa Ferrari 1:15.216 1:14.478 1:14.290
4. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:15.334 1:14.340 1:14.347
5. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:15.823 1:14.716 1:14.427
6. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:15.505 1:14.488 1:14.566
7. Kubica Renault 1:15.736 1:14.835 1:15.079
8. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:16.398 1:14.698 1:15.109
09. Rosberg Mercedes 1:16.178 1:15.018 1:15.179
10. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:16.387 1:14.943 1:15.339
11. Schumacher Mercedes 1:16.084 1:15.026
12. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:15.951 1:15.084
13. Petrov Renault 1:16.521 1:15.307
14. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:16.220 1:15.467
15. de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1:16.450 1:15.550
16. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:16.664 1:15.588
17. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:16.029 1:15.974
18. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:17.583
19. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:18.300
20. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:18.343
21. Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:18.592
22. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:18.952
23. Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1:19.844
24. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth No Time (Gearbox)

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1

Yesterday Schumacher pointed out to the zero in-season testing being ridiculous and he was so right. When we look at it, all teams suffer from this “testlessness”: Red Bull looks fine for the past 2 GPs but since Bahrain, they have lost races to reliability. Ferrari has not been fast enough, they already used two engine changes. McLaren could not keep up with the major upgrades that other big teams have achieved. Mercedes is also one of those, not to mention the new teams..

In a spectator’s view, we’re deprived of a full potential racing. Let them develop fully, test themselves within some limits, at least. Watching races with What if’s and But’s in mind is definitely not as enjoyable as it was in the 2000s.

I hope the decision makers come to their senses and do something about this.

2

James, are you the closest to the actions, teams and you have the chance to understand the situation. Will you be able and interested to write about Ferrari and what is going on with the team over the last several years?

They seem to struggle with setting the trend and they seem to be lost. Alonso is making too many mistakes, which he never did before. What is behind the red mist? Are they going to win again?

3

Looks like they are pretty competitive at the moment..

4

Alan,

If it rains.. the following drivers are to be watched:

1. Massa: During free wet practice he was the quickest and Alonso coundn’t match his pace, so he dialed in something which others including his teammate couldn’t.

2. Lewis: He is always good in Wet, China this year is a shining example.

3. Reubens: He is always quick in wet, can’t bet on winning though but while wet you never know.

4. Sutil: The most underrated wet specialist.

5. Vettel & Web: Simply on the grounds that The Red Bull is extremely nimble and accurately responsive and thats what you need in wet conditions.

Enjoy 🙂

5

Hi James,

What’s the grip level like on the dirty side of the track? Is it as grippy as Silverstone or as bad as Valencia?

And you still think everyone will do 2 stops?

6

Not as good as Silverstone

7

Go James! And if I ever say something similarly foolish, please whack me around the ears quickly! 😉 Well done. Keep up the good work.

8
Thomas in Australia

Well, I’m thinking this is going to be the craziest first corner of the year…

Anyone else think Matha is going to give Fonso a taste of his own medicine? 😉

9

I worked out that the 0.002 sec margin represents 12.4cm Ironicaly this is the average size of a latin male member. Vettel does’nt know how lucky he was!!

10

clearly the average German size is 24.8cm then 😉

11

James, I predict Button to win tomorrow…..

Remember, you read it here first…..

Steve….

(USA)

12

I want to believe that, I really do.

13

Steve

I have a feeling he might do well tomorrow as well. His race pace has usually been really decent, and this is the first time for a while he hasnt been miles back.

I’ll second you on that!

14

Well he did go deep into the race didn’t he….

Knows how to manage tyres.

Steve

15

Hi James

I’m still chuckling about your response above (you very rarely get dragged into responding on criticism, but when you do its always worth a read).

It will be very very interesting to see how the race pace for McLaren is affected by running the new diffuser. They’ve always struggled for 1 lap pace, but usually are excellent on full tanks.

Are they feeling positive about their race pace? I know they are 3/4 second off on one lap, but if they can get it going over the race they will be in good shape.

16

James, what is your view on Pat Symons theory that Red Bull have a ‘engine overun’ system that they can use on qualifying laps?

He observed at Silverstone the Red Bulls had a very different exhaust note to the other cars and alsoreckoned Ferrari were testing a similar system on some laps.

Perhaps this system explains why Red Bull have been dominating qualifying and explains Ferraris improved performance today?

17

It’s not a theory. If you look at the Strategy Briefing I did after Valencia you will see we covered it then

18

I’ve followed F1 since 1966 and motor racing in general before that. I’ve not seen any fall-off in support for F1 when British or English speaking drivers (I thought they all were required to speak English) were not to the fore.

At one time during the Schmacher years, I read that the highest national membership of the Ferrari fan club other than Italian was English and this has been evident at every GP I’ve been to.

I used to watch GPs with a largish group of mates and the support was spread over all nationalities. I’ve supported teams rather than drivers but I was a big fan of Senna and also Piquet in his Brabham days.

The group has shrunk a bit after the excesses of someone high up in management, but of those remaining, one is an Alonso fan. Another was a big Rosberg the daddy supporter and another all but worshiped Senna.

This is the norm.

I’ve supported English F1 teams but Ferrari for sports cars. And I’m by no means alone in the latter pasttime.

The thing I like about British fans of F1 is their cosmopolitan affiliations.

It does irritate me when accusations about partiality arrise. I’ve got 44 years to suggest just the opposite. I don’t care what nationality you are: beat my Mclarens and I will be prejudiced against you.

I’ve left other forums when they have been taken over by nationalistic posters. This one is, thankfully, not one of them. And long may it remain so.

My vote would be to ban national anthems after races. I reckon they are inappropriate and misleading. Benetton became Italian after a demand from a sponsor. How daft is that?

Let’s keep jingoism out of F1.

19

Funnily enough on the drivers parade lap at Silverstone even Sebastian Vettel was saying that the thing he loved about British fans was their knowledge of the sport and non-partisan approach to F1.

20

And I sure hope we don’t see the Maori haka at the Hamilton Street race again, either! PK.

21

I think/wonder/hope that McLaren are playing the percentages game this weekend. With the Ferraris a strong challenge to the Red Bulls here, it’s a perfect oppurtunity to spend time developing the diffuser – as if this weekend is test session almost. They just need to stay out of trouble, score some decent points and fully understand their technology going into Hungary.

Great to see who’ll beat who in the Button/Hammy battle though – and with the temparamemt of the drivers in front of them in question plus the race pace car, they should take it easy and retain their leads I think.

22

I will echo what I said after attending Silverstone; Alonso and Vettel appear to have the most impressive driving style when seen in the flesh. There is a palpable barely controlled aggression tempered with amazing precision. Button, Hamilton and MSC stand out as well, but Alonso and Vettel seemed so much more purposeful, perhaps because they were more comfortable with their car.

I used to be slightly suspicious of commentators discussing the “body language” of a driver in an F1 car, but it really is apparent.

I suspect it will be an amazing race tomorrow.

23

Seems most cars got slower in Q3, yet the Red-Bull and Ferrari improved. Does this mean Ferrari now have the constant flow exhaust?

And also I would like to ask about one source claiming the system was designed to improve reliability(I presume to keep temperatures stable and not changing rapidly), yet the teams that use it can only do so for a few laps.

24

See En Zor,sorry but the lightened floor on Webbers car has been talked about on “English” sites,obviously you haven,t found them,now go and sit down,reflect be calm.

Brilliant qualifying and to see Ferrari so close to Red Bull.

Fransesco,Alonso is not a double world champion for nothing, and possibly to much is written in the media that shows him in a bad light,but i agree he is one of the greats in F1,and today showed why.

25

Luizzi’s wheel came awfully close to that virgin racing car… It could have been very bad indeed.

As a Michael Schumacher fan (I speak English, by the way), I’m again disappointed in today’s result. James, who takes care of technical direction at Mercedes? If it is Ross Brawn, what other roles does he fill in the team?

Obviously Brawn’s role changed at the beginning of 2009 when he took ownership of the team. Prior to that he was fully involved in the technical side at Honda, in the year they produced early 2009’s state of the art car. After that things began to slip downward over the course of 2009 season, and now into 2010. I suppose what I am trying to ask is, is Ross just stretched too thin at the moment?

26

I feel u bro. But people look at things more dramatically than it actually is. What if Vettle is his teammate and doing what Nico is doing?

Will they praise MSfor being that close to the top driver or will they bash him?

I think there is a possibility that Nico is as fast as a guy like Vettle.

And personally, if MS is in red bull and being that close to Seb I would be happy as a big fan. But now I am slightly disappointed.

27

We all heard how excited Vettel was to grab pole (and rightly so). James, during the post qualifying press conference, Vettel was talking about how close it was between himself and Alonso. I think he tried to play down how much ground Ferrari had made up on Red Bull by saying he didn’t do a perfect lap and that there was more time in the Red Bull. What is your take on this since you were actually there!?

28

A great qualifying session for Ferrari. They are not only the 2nd best team but closer to the bulls now. Ferrari got the timing of sending their cars out wrong. Had they released Alonso a bit later, he would’ve got a clean run by not having Massa near him in front. Anyways a great lap by both Ferrari drivers.

It would be interesting to see the battle between Button and Hamilton tomorrow. Let’s see how Button defends from Hamilton who is a very good overtaker. Time for Button to prove something.

Michael Schumacher really needs to pack up and go. He can’t use the car and the time as excuse now. Nico with the same car (which was rather altered in Spain to suit Michael) got into Q3 and now it has been 10 races for MS to get used to the car and still slower ? Instead of gathering criticism, he should go back home or become team principal for Ferrari.

29

Schumacher’s time was 8/100ths of a second slower than Nico Rosberg’s in Q2, the closest of any team mates. It was just bad luck for Schumacher it happened to be over 10th and 11th.

30

Agreed. He has been looking closer all weekend. I think he may be finally finding his feet.

31

Webber was not 6 tenths slower Vettel.In Q1 it was less than 2 tenths and in Q2 a tenth.In Q3 Webber ran wide and abandoned his final run.

32

See en Zor, I think you are overdramatizing a little.

I’m from non-English speaking country myself and yes in Hamilton-Alonso conflict you could see how most English speaking people were defending Hamilton, just like Spanish did Alonso. You can’t fight against it, it’s natural. Just like till this day I read Finnish F1 sites and they are full of negative comments against Alonso, cause Santander bought Kimi out of Ferrari. And it’s all natural I say.

Talking about the wing incident, it’s sad that Vettel came out as a bad boy, cause he didn’t do anything wrong (altough I would have refused the wing if being Vettel. It’s not that 1 wing was left over, it was taken from Webbers car, whether he liked it as much as Vettel or not, I don’t care). But hinting that this site is biased, that’s when I think you’re terrible wrong. Even if I tried really hard, I could not be as neutral as Mr. Allen has been.

33

“Now Alonso just needs to stay under the stewards’ radar tomorrow…”

Good one, James!

The “White Bull” is on the charge…

34

Even with the upgrades Alonso is still grabbing that Ferrari by it’s neck and dragging it around.

He was SO unlucky to have missed out pole by 2/1000ths of a second. The last I can remember that happening was Monza 2006 with Kimi and Schumi.

Now I’m not saying Massa didn’t do a good job either. Sure he may have been about half a second down on those 2, BUT he was the leader of “Best of the Rest” if you will and landed a 3rd place grid slot and in doing so confirming Ferrari’s improved performance from its upgrades from the recent races and practice form.

If memory serves correct, Webber may have never been outqualified at a German GP before by his team mate (till now obviously), but in the race I don’t seem to remember him having too much luck so maybe he’s going to have a role reversal tomorrow of sorts.

I think Mercedes are a lot more disappointed than they perhaps are showing. They were confident of a top 6 grid slot and they ended up down in the 5th and 6th rows! Lets hope Eddie Jordan was right in thinking all their efforts are pretty much on their 2011 challenger.

I haven’t read anything about Liuzzi yet about his quali performance today, but I reckon he’ll get a bit of leniency just like Petrov. Atleast the team know he was pushing, admittedly perhaps too much, but he was pushing.

And there are already articles of Eric Boullier saying Petrov was unlucky due to the times being so close and his engineer praising him for difficult practice sessions with the weather.

Tomorrow’s race looks to be another classic.

35

Alonso and Ferrari did great. In my opinion, they should be leading the WDC by now, but aren’t due to hundreds of silly mistakes. Sounds funny, but I wanted to say that it became a Ferrari style to make mistakes, although it sounds strange. Last 2-3 years are surrounded by mistakes for Ferrari…plane, silly mistakes.

I only hope that tomorrow it is going to be a straightforward race to put Alonso back into contention. I never liked him personally, but he is one of the best and he is the only hope Ferrari has at the moment.

P.S. James, why are you saying that Vettel found 2/10th? Do you means that he improved by 2/10th vs his own time? He won qualifying by 0.002.

36

He found two tenths from his penultimate run to his last one ie the last one was 2/10ths faster than he had gone before, quite impressive

37

Hello James,

Did Alonso make any mistakes during his run? Given the gap in Q1 and Q2, I was thinking he would be on pole by at least a tenth.

And yet again, when I read the comments from Ferrari (SD and CD), I couldn’t help but think that they were expecting to be pole by that margin as well. Chris Dyer in particular doesn’t seem to like Alonso that much.

This is just conjecture on my part, but since you are close to action , could you shed light on this please ?

As usual, great read!

38

No, Alonso said he was braced for RBR to find wings in Q3 as they usually do. I think he’s pleased that Q3 final runs are as close as they are

39

This is off the point, but I just want to ask you something James: is there any chance of banning the dreadfully looking sharkfin? The cars look really beautiful without all those small wings, but the sharkfin just ruins it. And BTW I remember someone of the drivers saying that they were not even certain if it adds up some extra tenth (that was before F-duct days)…

Anyway looking forward to a great race, Alonso you can do it!

40

If we move to turbocharged engines then the cars will look more like the Mercedes design as the cars will not require the airscoop to help get the air into the engine. The Mercedes design is not compatible with the sharkfin so you will get your wish.

41

I agree. It’s revolting

42

Truly, the surprise was Ferrari and Alonso, Vettel was expected to be either first or second, so the normal thing to do is to talk about Ferrari and Alonso. I expect, perhaps after quite some time, a non-boring dry race, with lots of passing tomorrow, or am I an incurable optimist?

43

NO rain…please

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