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Webber wins four way pole fight for German Grand Prix
Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Jul 2011   |  2:14 pm GMT  |  128 comments

Qualifying for the German Grand Prix was a thrilling four way scrap between Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.

In the end it was Webber who took it, his ninth career pole and the third this season. But Lewis Hamilton shocked his rivals by taking second fastest time, just 6/100ths off the pole. He described it as a “good lap”, but this was some understatement – he was over a second faster than team mate Jenson Button.

Vettel was pushed off the front row of the grid for the first time this season in third place, ahead of Fernando Alonso.

“My form has been getting better in the last few races, ” said Webber. “We got it all together in the end. I couldn’t have got much more out of it. It was my complete limit.”

Hamilton said, “We’ve had some upgrades this weekend and there’s. I underestimated how good the car would be on light fuel. It was one of the happiest laps I’ve ever had, it felt incredible.”

Hamilton and Webber were stronger than their rivals mainly in the first sector, clearly confident in their ability to get the braking right for Turn 1. Their sector one times were the platform for their success.

The gap between the soft and medium tyre was as much as 1.5 seconds in the cool conditions of today (22 degrees track temperature), which meant that many drivers had to be careful in tyre choice in the early stages of qualifying to be sure to get through.

In Q1, Renault had to use it, Mercedes too. And so did Felipe Massa, who struggled for pace in free practice relative to team mate Alonso, six tenths of a second being the norm between them.

Kobayashi was the driver to miss the cut in 18th place. He has scored points this season from the back of the grid already.

In terms of team mate match ups, Daniel Ricciardo did very well to qualify within 0.025s of Tonio Liuzzi in the HRT, while Karun Chandhok was 0.9s slower than Heikki Kovalainen. As he explained it, before this weekend he had not driven an F1 car this year on slick tyres and not used the DRS.

In Q2 the star performers were Adrian Sutil, who got his Force India into 8th place ahead of Schumacher’s Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton, who set a fastest time of 1m 30.998, with the first sector time three tenths faster than any of his rivals.

Pastor Maldonado outqualified team mate Rubens Barrichello for the fourth time in five races.

In Q3, the Red Bulls came alive, with Webber half a second faster than Hamilton and Alonso on the first runs and Vettel just a tenth behind him.

Hamilton was the surprise of the session, his and the McLaren’s braking ability into Turn 1 being one of the decisive factors in giving him an advantage in sector 1. He got his first front row since the Malaysian Grand Prix.

GERMAN GRAND PRIX, Nurburgring, Qualifying
1. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m30.079s
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m30.134s + 0.055
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m30.216s + 0.137
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m30.442s + 0.363
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m30.910s + 0.831
6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m31.263s + 1.184
7. Jenson Button McLaren 1m31.288s + 1.209
8. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m32.010s + 1.931
9. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m32.187s + 2.108
10. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m32.482s + 2.403

11. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m32.2152 + 1.217
12. Paul di Resta Force India 1m32.5602 + 1.562
13. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m32.6352 + 1.637
14. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1m33.0432 + 2.045
15. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m33.1762 + 2.178
16. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1m33.5462 + 2.548
17. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1m33.6982 + 2.700

18. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m33.786s + 1.960
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1m35.599s + 3.773
20. Timo Glock Virgin 1m36.400s + 4.574
21. Karun Chandhok Lotus 1m36.422s + 4.596
22. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 1m36.641s + 4.815
23. Tonio Liuzzi HRT 1m37.011s + 5.185
24. Daniel Ricciardo HRT 1m37.036s + 5.210

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I’ve heard from a very close source to Jenson, that Lewis has more upgrades on his car than Jenson.

Still a brilliant lap from Lewis.. Also been told Button will look for a move after this.


Felipe Massa said after qualifying yesterday that Ferrari were running with as much downforce as possible. We saw at Silverstone that they suffered a lot on intermediates, so could they have compromised qualifying slightly for a better chance in a wet race?


Watching the in car footge of the Williams showed its a real pig to drive.


I can’t see why vettel is rated so highly for his raw pace. We’ve seen numerous times Webber beating him in qualifying or being very very close. So either Mark is also very very quick, something many people fail to mention most of the times or should i say mention rarely or vettel is quick but no wunderkid I’d imagine. clearly hamilton and alonso are quick but then a webber or rosberg kind of a driver as their teammate should really spice things up. I was quite amazed to hear schumacher saying he made that error because of the time rosberg put in, and he said he couldn’t have matched it at all. wow rosberg should really be at mclaren and then we’ll see how good is hamilton. webber should be at ferrari, that’ll give a good indication of how fast alonso is and how fast vettel is in reference.


Hi, James. I’ve heard on the BBC that Pirellis are getting more durable over the course of the season, and that when Mark Webber was asked about it, he’d replied, “And it’s playing right into my hands.”

Anything you can give us on this?


I’ve written quite a bit on this, with Pirelli trying to make the gap between the two tyres smaller to encourage different strategies and to alleviate some of the criticism of tyres that wear out too quickly. I think Vettel figured out the Pirellis faster than Webber. It’s helping Webber now because he is harder on his tyres. It hasn’t made a huge difference in quali as the soft tyre has been the same all season.


Looks to be set up for a great race. Can’t wait. Great to see Mark dig deep for pole in Germany. Look out for a big form reversal and a clean hook-up off the line tomorrow too!

Mark in Australia

Le Tour De France one day, the Nurburgring the next. Go Aussie go!!! (provided Mark Webber can get the thing off the line)


I’ve got a great idea!

Why don’t we all make completely pointless race predictions!

1 Ham 2 Web 3 Alo


1 Web 2 Ham 3 Vet

It’s all a bit pointless predicting the top 4 to be somewhere around the top 4, this is racing 🙂

For me, the most interesting thing is Vettel’s mood. Not happy.

+ Pirelli are making sturdier tires – helps Webber, and McLaren seem to have made a huge gain with their floor. MAYBE we can be lucky enough for the season not to be over.

We (even neutrals) just need at least two Vettel DNFs, then there can be a true fight for the last 8 races or so.


Since Valencia there is no magic button in Kinky Kylie. No 4-5 tenths for Vettel.


Chandhok & Lotus kept saying it was his first time on these tyres and with DRS.

What was he using in the Friday practice sessions he’s been doing this season? & even yesterday? I’m sure he’s more than familiar with DRS & the tyres in short runs.

The tyre excuse can b used for the race obviously cause he’s never driven long distances.

I don’t mean to take anything away from him, it was some achievement to be within a second of Heikki


Hot lap by Lewis, but Marks was better.


i miss the days when the drivers all had 4 attempts to beat the other guys time, instead of this pointless knockout configuration.


Same. 12 lap qualifying please.


In my opinion, that is more effective when the grid is closer together, like today. When the grid is farther apart, a single qualifying session would be incredibly boring.


Didn’t see quali today as I’m ‘abroad’. The HD recorder should have it, and the race, for when I get home. I for one would enjoy a Webber win tomorrow. Be interesting to see the difference in set ups for the race if it is wet.


Isn’t it amazing.

Once Red Bull give Mark Webber a car that works all weekend, the supposed difference in pace to Vettel evaporates………..

I just hope Red Bull realize what a great driver they have in Mark Webber.

Great to see the resurgence of McLaren and Ferrari – this year it is Vettel that has to hold his nerve like Button with the Brawn.


Vettel has a large margin to play with and even with any misfortune that comes his way will probabaly not be too detrimental as his rivials will probably end up taking points from each other.


Don’t forget the change in the points system that happened in 2010; this exaggerates the lead. Vettel has a very good cushion but a few poorer finishes and maybe a DNF (which, by the law of averages, will come), could see his advantage being dramatically reduced. Never say die!

He does have a commanding lead though.



Watch out for the late braking McLaren going into turn 1 at the start of the race. That’s Hamilton’s best chance of getting the race lead and then watch out for Red Bulls battling each other and Alonso’s very fast Ferrari.


I look forward to Vettel’s win tomorrow!


What are Pirelli up to – are they doing a 180 and producing relatively indestructible tires from now on?? We had that with Bridgestone, and it was boring…


Hamilton’s drive in qualy shows that Ferrari are not ahead of McLaren in terms of performance inspite of the unbalanced comments from a few coming from one section of the F1 fanbase favouring one particular Italian team.

Perhaps it was their enthusiasm getting ahead of themselves after one successful race result given Ferrari’s poor standing this season to date but as I suggested last week, the off-throttle gases issue was a one-off that favoured Ferrari for this single race.


Alonso finished the last races in wich he was classified 2-2-1. that does not seem like a one off.


Damian, watch carefully the quali results and you will see that Fernando was able to split the McLaren -or even be in front of the two of them- in every race since Turkey (06 may.). Bare facts I’m afraid 😉


That is statistical nonsense. The comparison should be on the same basis. One would also

need to include Ferrari’s slower second driver also for a fair comparison since you have chosen to include McLaren’s second car.

In any event, splitting the McLaren cars as you point out does not prove that the Ferrari has a superior car, as was claimed by some posts after the Silverstone race.


Great job done by Lewis today to qualify only .055s behind Webber. It looks as if maybe, just maybe Vettel along with Kinky Kiley’s reign of terror just might be over.


What happened to Michael?! His car looked horrible, sliding all over the place:( Im sure he’ll make up a lot of places tomorrow.


Vettel gets pole throughout season in impressive ways, beating everying with a big margin….everyone is like, meh, boring, just the car (hello Webber?).

Now suddenly Webber and Hamilton are the new Messiahs because they managed to get a good lap in, ok, lol.


That’s the point…if he’s beating everyone by a big margin it’s because of his car (webber seemed to absent for the first 5-6 races) because ultimately you can not say he is that much faster than Alonso or Lewis no matter how much of a fanboy you are (I personally rate the two above Vettel).

Its not against Vettel – no one like someone to have such a dominant car.


Webber didn’t have a working KERS for the first 5-6 races. How come everyone forgets to mention this?


Excellent Q3, good on Mark, good job from Hamilton and Alonso, wonder what happened to Button.


Great Qualifying session. BUT, pole is wasted on Webber. Can/will someone explain his consistently poor starts?? And not just this season.

Seb should slot up diagonally on the grid to prevent stuffing stuffing Marco’s rump at lights out.

Why can’t Webber get his car moving? Would really appreciate insight, James.


I know that ever since Mark has been with RBR (and maybe teams previous to them) his starts have consistently been poor. I wouldn’t be surprised if he stands alone in F1 history as having the worst starting performance for one team over such a period. I’d love to see the statistics of his positions gained vs lost after the 1st lap for his time at RBR. It’s frustrating for his fans because he’s definitely one of the most talented racers.


That was a brilliant lap from Lewis no doubt…

However nobody questions the more-than-one-second gap to Jenson ? Can somebody reminds me when that happened last ? Anything to do with the setup of the cars ?


Fantastic performance by Lewis. He clearly dialed the car in- better (perhaps) than Jenson was able to. Its remarkable how frequently Jenson complains about the balance of the car when Lewis rarely does- other than wanting more downforce. Also, through the course of a weekend, Lewis is almost always 1/2 a second faster than Jenson, then the gap closes in actual qualifying. I suppose my question, James, is Lewis’s technical know-how in terms of car set-up a significant reason for his superior performance? and is that an under-rated skill?…can you confirm if the 2 sides of the Mclaren garage shared set up info this weekend?? Thank you.


No I don’t think it’s superior technical know how. Yes the drivers share info.


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