Sebastian Vettel beat Fernando Alonso to pole position by just two thousandths of a second at the Hockenheimring.
Felipe Massa underlined Ferrari’s improved pace by taking third place, capitalising on a mistake by Mark Webber who will start fourth.
The first part of qualifying was only five minutes old when Vitantonio Liuzzi brought it to an early halt. He lost his car at the final corner and hit the concrete barrier in front of the pit wall in a crash not dissimilar to Timo Glock’s during the 2008 race.
And it was Glock who had to brake and swerve to avoid the front wheel which was torn off Liuzzi’s car.
Race control swiftly red-flagged the session to recover Liuzzi’s car and clean up the track.
Lewis Hamilton was among the first of the cars to go quickest when the session re-started, before heading back to the pits.
His mark was beaten by the two Red Bulls and finally Fernando Alonso, who set a new best time of the weekend with a 1’14.808.
Unsurprisingly it was the three new teams’ cars that were eliminated along with Liuzzi. Both Virgin drivers are expected to take five-place penalties for gearbox changes, as is Adrian Sutil.
Most of the front-runners did their first runs on hard tyres but Felipe Massa was a notable exception, setting the fastest time to begin with on super-soft tyres.
But when his rivals switched to super-soft tyres towards the end of the session he was demoted – with team mate Alonso fastest once again on a 1’14.081.
The fight to escape the drop zone was closely-fought – especially between the Mercedes drivers. Nico Rosberg edged Michael Schumacher by eight-thousandths of a second, and Schumacher was ultimately knocked out by the improving Williams of Nico Hülkenberg.
The Saubers, Toro Rossos, Vitaly Petrov and Adrian Sutil were also eliminated ahead of the top-ten shoot-out.
Alonso struck the first blow in the final part of qualifying with Vettel unable to beat his first effort on the super-soft tyres.
But when they came out for the last runs Vettel turned the table – setting a 1’13.791 which Alonso got within 0.002s of beating.
Webber might have joined his team mate on the front row but he ran wide at turn one on his first lap and had to abort his lap. That allowed Massa to take third place off him.
Jenson Button turned the tables on his team mate with his last effort, edging Hamilton by a tenth of a second on his final run.
See how the grid will look after penalties here: German Grand Prix grid
Full qualifying times
|1||5||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1’15.152||1’14.249||1’13.791|
|4||6||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||1’15.334||1’14.340||1’14.347|
|14||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1’16.220||1’15.467|
|15||22||Pedro de la Rosa||Sauber-Ferrari||1’16.450||1’15.550|
|16||17||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1’16.664||1’15.588|
|17||16||Sebastien Buemi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1’16.029||1’15.974|
|22||15||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India-Mercedes||1’18.952|
|24||25||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin-Cosworth|
2010 German Grand Prix
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