Alonso rides his luck for Silverstone pole position

2012 British Grand Prix qualifying

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2012Fernando Alonso came perilously close to being eliminated during the second part of qualifying for the British Grand Prix.

But after a lengthy rain delay he returned to the track in time to claim a place in the final ten – despite a close call on a yellow flag.

He edged Mark Webber by less than five-hundredths of a second to claim his first pole position since Singapore 2010.


Rain had begun to fall before Q1 started so a string of cars were lined up at the exit of the pits waiting for the green light.

When it began, Kamui Kobayashi led them out and set the quickest time while others grappled with traffic. Kimi Raikkonen had to take avoiding action and drive off the track while trying to overtake team mate Romain Grosjean.

The rain soon eased leaving all the drivers on-track gradually improving their times on the intermediate tyres. But there was a sting in the tail: the rain returned at the end of the session, forcing some to make extra runs.

They included the two McLaren drivers, who queued up in the pits for a second set of intermediate tyres with two-and-a-half minutes to go. Lewis Hamilton set the fastest middle sector time but was unable to improve on 14th.

But it was worse for his team mate: Jenson Button was on course to improve before he reached the slippery final sector. But the track had caught out Timo Glock, who spun at the start/finish straight, bringing out the yellow flags. That left Button 18th and out of qualifying.

“I can normally drive a racing car in the wet but not today,” he rued afterwards, adding that at least he had a supply of fresher tyres for the race.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’48.044
19 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1’49.027
20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’49.477
21 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1’51.618
22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1’52.742
23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’53.040
24 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1’54.143


By the time the second part of qualifying had begun the rain had worsened. Once again all the cars were queued up at the exit of the pit lane, only this time with full wet weather tyres on.

There were three significant exceptions – the Ferrari pair and Bruno Senna left the pits on intermediate tyres and instantly regretted the decision. They tip-toed around as the rain hammered down before returning to the pits for full wet tyres.

The damage was already done, however. After the likes of Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton scraped in sub-two minute laps, Alonso and Massa found it difficult just to keep their cars on the track.

Alonso caught a lurid slide at the exit of Chapel, narrowly missing the barriers. Massa also went off and Schumacher had multiple off-track excursions. With not just Alonso, but also Hamilton saying the conditions were too dangerous, the session was red-flagged.

It took over an hour and a half for the session to be restarted. When it did, most of the cars resumed on wet-weather tyres.

Sergio Perez was one driver who stuck with intermediates for the restart. It cost him dearly. Having sat at the top of the times during the suspension he ended up 17th and slowest.

A late effort by Paul di Resta put him ninth and when Romain Grosjean spun at Vale it looked like the Force India driver was safe.

But late improvements by Alonso and Vettel dropped him out of the final ten. Replays showed Alonso had passed through the yellow flag sector on his best lap, but it remains to be seen whether the stewards will agree he slowed sufficiently.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’57.009
12 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’57.071
13 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’57.108
14 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’57.132
15 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1’57.426
16 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’57.719
17 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’57.895


As the track continued to dry out the top ten shootout was conducted with most drivers on intermediate tyres.

Hamilton started the session on wets but quickly switched them for intermediates. But he never seemed to have the pace to challenge for pole position and was fighting the McLaren around ever millimetre of Silverstone tarmac.

Michael Schumacher also began with full wet tyres and briefly went fastest before switching to intermediates.

While he headed for the pits Mark Webber and Alonso took over the contest for pole position. Alonso claimed the fastest time back with his last effort but in the meantime Webber was charging into the final sector.

Webber crossed the line less than five-hundredths of a second slower than the Ferrari. He later told his team he’d been held up “by Di Resta” – presumably having mistaken Nico Hulkenberg for the other Force India.

Schumacher got his intermediate tyres up to temperature quickly enough to qualify where he finished the last race – third. Vettel, who was also on course for a quick lap before losing time in the final sector, took fourth.

Top ten in Q3

1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’51.746
2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’51.793
3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’52.020
4 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’52.199
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’53.065
6 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’53.290
7 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’53.539
8 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’53.543
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’54.382
10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault

2012 British Grand Prix

Browse all 2012 British Grand Prix articles

Image ?? Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo

Advert | Go Ad-free


132 comments on Alonso rides his luck for Silverstone pole position

1 2 3
  1. toiago (@toiago) said on 7th July 2012, 15:45

    Did Kimi have KERS during Q3?

    • Postreader said on 7th July 2012, 15:59

      Apparently not.

    • infy (@infy) said on 7th July 2012, 16:34

      Cant use kers in the rain anyway.

      • Alfie (@alfie) said on 7th July 2012, 16:39

        Yes you can.

      • Eggry (@eggry) said on 7th July 2012, 16:43

        You can use it even though it’s not helpful as when it’s dry. What you can’t use when wet is DRS.

        • remengo said on 7th July 2012, 16:57

          If you review the Q3 you’ll see that DRS was disabled from race control.

          • Jani Karusalmi said on 7th July 2012, 17:25

            Yeah, but KERS wasn’t

          • de Hooch said on 7th July 2012, 18:33

            Very very glad to see Grossjean beached in the gravel. Trying to barge his teammate off the track in Q1 was shoddy. They were not racing, they were setting quali lap times. Kimi needed the space. Gros had nothing to gain by driving him off track. This comes after he drove into the side of Kimi at the start in Valencia. I will always rejoice in bad luck for this boy. He is fast yes, granted, but also stupid. Hope his alternator goes pop early in the race .

          • @de Hooch: Grosjean did not try to force Kimi off. Kimi was faster than him, so he tried to get by him as he was going alongside a Sauber. There was simply no room. And he didn’t do anything wrong in Valencia, either. Kimi got by Grosjean without any problems, then Maldonado (what a surprise…) pushed him to the side, which meant that Kimi had to back off, letting Grosjean through.

            Anyways, Romain may be error-prone, but you have to remember that he’s essentially a rookie. It’s not like he wants to crash all the time.

      • infy (@infy) said on 7th July 2012, 18:56

        Ah forgive me. Got kers and drs mixed up.

    • Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 8th July 2012, 4:59

      @toiago i dont think anyone used kers, problem wasn’t lack of power, it was getting the power down

  2. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 7th July 2012, 15:47

    It was a long wait, but it was very exciting ! they were slidding around a lot, specially at the last corner! Some onboard shots were spectacular!

    Well done to Ferrari. Both drivers looked mighty in Q3! Sad Mark couldn’t spoil their party… but oh well! It’s gonna be exciting tomorrow!

  3. Simon999 (@simon999) said on 7th July 2012, 15:49

    Interesting how some cars seemed to perform much better on full wets than intermediates and vice versa. Not sure if any of it was down to lack of fresh tyres, but HAM got a mighty lap out of the full wets at the end of Q2 and then struggled on the inters in Q3 (as did both Mclarens during Q1 – 14th and 18th?).

    Other drivers, like ALO, were the opposite – scraping through Q2 on the full wets and then a great lap for pole in Q3. Maybe it’s down to these narrow operating windows we keep hearing about.

    • Tom (@newdecade) said on 7th July 2012, 15:56

      Yep, as a mclaren fan Im hoping for full wet conditions! They definitely struggle getting heat into the inters. The red flag saved Ferrari’s bacon and no mistake.

    • Ben73 (@ben73) said on 7th July 2012, 17:48

      It appears to me that after the millions spent on car development, the hours spent by the drivers training to get into peak physical fitness and all the strategy decisions, on a rainy day it all boils down to the time of day quali starts. With different cars good on one tyre or the other and not both due to the narrow operating window. Had the quali started 30 mins earlier we would have had a different outcome.

  4. damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 7th July 2012, 15:50

    Can’t believe I was only 4 tenths off guessing pole! Will be interesting to see who came the closest. Unfortunately, I picked the wrong guy, but still…

  5. Eggry (@eggry) said on 7th July 2012, 15:54

    Great Session. Q2 and later part of Q3 was really exciting. Good to see Ferrari got pole.

  6. Chalky (@chalky) said on 7th July 2012, 15:59

    You can’t fault Alonso’s pole lap, but I was very surprised to see Alonson make it through to Q3.
    In Q1, going by the TV graphic, Button was -1.5 sec up on P17 until the final sector with waved yellows. He slowed and was +1 over his best time. So you it looks like he lost 2.5 secs in the final sector.
    Then in Q2 you have Alonso who improves his time to edge out Di Resta with double waved yellows in sector 3.
    Now either Button slowed too much, or Alonso is not slowing enough.
    I can therefore understand why DiResta felt agrieved with being knocked out this way.
    Perhaps Alonso was slower in sector 3 than his previous laps, but it did surprise me.

    • necrodethmortem (@necrodethmortem) said on 7th July 2012, 16:09

      In Q1, the last sector was also a lot wetter, that’s why Button lost so much time.

    • xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 7th July 2012, 16:10

      That’s interesting, because maldonado passed Grosjeans beached car, and the commentators (ben edwards and DC) said that he was on course for a very similair time given his previous sectors, but in fact he went significantly faster than his previous personal best.
      Any help?

    • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 7th July 2012, 16:11

      It wasn’t his fastest lap in the last sector, as Keith pointed out during the session, but I wonder what “slowing down enough” really means in the regulations.

      I mean, how much should you slow down ?

    • smokinjoe (@smokinjoe) said on 7th July 2012, 16:27

      When asked whether he was concerned about setting his fastest time in Q2 under waved yellows, Fernando Alonso replied: “I didn’t set a green (fastest) sector (time) in that particular lap with the yellow (flags). So I don’t have any worries.”

    • Tete said on 7th July 2012, 16:48

      Perhaps Alonso was faster in the first two sectors than in the previous lap and slowed down in the third sector and even with that he finished ahead of forests. The telemetry will show but he did the best job out there.

  7. smokinjoe (@smokinjoe) said on 7th July 2012, 16:05

    when alonso qualified tenth and come back to win the race ,wonder what he gonna do when he on pole

  8. Eleanore (@leucocrystal) said on 7th July 2012, 16:08

    Well, that was crazy and quite exciting. Haven’t seen yellow flags so ill-timed for so many drivers at once in quite a long time, either. Ouch.

  9. Wallbreaker (@wallbreaker) said on 7th July 2012, 16:09

    Keith, what do you think about Alonso reaching Q3 with that last lap under yellow? Legal or illegal?

    • PeteF12012 said on 7th July 2012, 16:11

      he set a pretty slow final sector so i’d be surprised to see him penalised.

      remember with yellow flags & faster times its about sector times rather than total lap time.

    • xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 7th July 2012, 16:11

      maldonado is the one I’m concerned about

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 7th July 2012, 16:31

      @wallbreaker I couldn’t make a fair call on that without seeing video replays of him and other drivers going through the same corner around that time and earlier in the session, or telemetry from Alonso’s car on different laps.

      We have seen some very tough penalties for this in GP2 and GP3 this year. But I always wonder if they treat those drivers a bit more harshly than F1 drivers.

      My hunch is, Alonso is smart enough to work out how much to back off.

  10. HUHHII (@huhhii) said on 7th July 2012, 16:11

    Is Alonso’s yellow flag issue in Q2 under investigation by the stewards or is he safe?

  11. red d said on 7th July 2012, 16:11

    schumacher was on it in those conditions. had his inters been up to temperature I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him on pole

  12. robbiepblake (@driftin) said on 7th July 2012, 16:12

    Surprising lack of pace from Williams and McLaren, especially the latter considering there was a lot of talk about their upgrades.

  13. sam3110 (@sam3110) said on 7th July 2012, 16:14

    It’s a massive grey area, and they can’t base it purely on being slower than you’re best sector time when in a green flag, as there are many more contributing factors. The rain and track was much worse in the opening 10 minutes of Q2, when they red flagged it, so obviously any sector time after the red flagis going to be quicker. Also, say you spin it but keep the car running, and therefore your sector time is massively skewed, and then in the very next lap someone else spins but doesn’t keep the car running, and the yellows come out. You slow down but complete your lap, and it’s faster than your previous lap. Should the lap be cancelled because you set a PB in that sector under a yellow flag, despite slowing down? The FIA will have to look at telemetary from Ferrari to determine whether he slowed down enough, and I hope he did, it’s been far too long since Ferrari have been on pole, and Alonso is showing everyone why he is the best driver in Formula 1 right now.

    Unrelated, but why are all the commentators getting in a tizzy about how good Hamilton is in the wet? I haven’t seen this so called amazing ability from him? Sure the 2008 win was pretty special, but really it was no more amazing than Alonso in Malaysia earlier this year, or any better than any other wet race i have seen for that matter.

    • infy (@infy) said on 7th July 2012, 16:42

      They often make stuff up to improve the story.

      • Younger Hamii (@younger-hamii) said on 7th July 2012, 17:39

        @sam3110 I think we’re on a similar boat here. Strangely, the last time Hamilton has REALLY fully demonstrated excellence in mixed/wet conditions in a race situation was back in China 2010, since then nothing he hasn’t come to fruition in the specified conditions, there were glimpses back in 2011 in the form of Canada, Hungary & Silverstone during the race although he’s either crashed out prematurely or the track had fully dried out during the race. In terms of impression + dominance in lap-times, like I said, the last time I’ve literally seen the former was China 2010, you can argue in races such as Korea 2010 & Malaysia this year, Lewis had issues with understeer & getting temperature into the tyres respectively.

        Spa 2010 & 2011 qualifying (in changeable conditions), Lewis has pulled out fantastic laps in the final minutes of qualifying to get a front row grid slot. Furthermore, I think Lewis has in recent seasons focused more on improving in other areas rather than bank on a particular weekend on wet weather, he still says as of today he adores driving in mixed/wet conditions & even mentioned it again earlier this weekend & I still believe his natural, thrilling ability in those conditions has not disappeared one bit but overall, the setup has to be right & comfortable, he needs to be on the right tyres but personally I do think the commentators & pundits rely on expectation from Lewis in those conditions rather than possibility & hope.

      • bag0 (@bag0) said on 7th July 2012, 18:50

        I think it is because the win of 2008 Silverstone, where he lapped everyone bar Heidfeld and Barichello, doing so with more than a minute ahead of the 2nd.

    • Simon999 (@simon999) said on 8th July 2012, 0:09

      I think HAM has always been one of the fastest in wet conditions, but has thrown away a few good positions (Hungary vs Button springs to mind).

      He did put in a lap that was much faster than anyone else managed on full wets in Q2 today, but I think this year in particular the skill of a driver in the wet can be easily out-weighed by the combination of car and Pirelli tyre.

      Had full wets been required for Q3, I epect we would have seen HAM on pole and ALO a lot further back. It’s a bit of a lottery for the drivers, so it’s hard to compare them when some cars are so much better on one tyre than another. It’s been a similar story for much of the season, it’s just magnified by the wet conditions.

      • Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 8th July 2012, 5:16

        but I think this year in particular the skill of a driver in the wet can be easily out-weighed by the combination of car and …… tyre.

        I think thats alway been the case for any tyre.. all depend on how quickly one can get heat into them which depends alot on setup and the car…

    • Dave (@dworsley) said on 8th July 2012, 2:04

      Fuji 2007, Silverstone 2008.

  14. Neel Jani (@neelv27) said on 7th July 2012, 16:17

    I personally enjoy long delays during an F1 weekend as I have more time of F1 and who can complain?

    Jenson was unlucky when rain intensified during the final corners of his final lap and as we saw, Club was horrible.
    @PM that is a LOTTERY!

    What was Kamui thinking? I mean formal shoes? Yuck!

    I felt for Romain. He could have been in this fight. Really sad.

    Alonso, wow, that was a great lap but you carry more luck in such qualis than others in the dry but it was nonetheless a show as to why he is the championship leader.

    Can’t wait for tomorrow’s race.

    • dkpioe said on 7th July 2012, 17:04

      I dont think button was unlucky, he was off the pace all throughout the first qualifing session

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 7th July 2012, 19:06

      Jenson was unlucky when rain intensified during the final corners of his final lap and as we saw,

      I know there is a lot of Button love on this site, but please, Jenson was not unlucky. His qualifying performances are laughable

      • Aditya Banerjee (@) said on 8th July 2012, 8:40

        Very true. Jenson put himself in such a position that he was forced to pit with just about two minutes left on the clock. He couldn’t even come close to the times that the Toro Rossos were setting.

      • Neel Jani (@neelv27) said on 8th July 2012, 8:58

        In that case, you need to check whether you switched on the right channel to watch the qualifying yesterday.

        I am not a Button fan but I am a Formula 1 fan!

    • Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 8th July 2012, 5:18

      I personally enjoy long delays during an F1 weekend as I have more time of F1 and who can complain?

      Me too. I dont care even if i have to watch the staff/drivers scratch their @#$/… lol

  15. angelo (@angelopellef1) said on 7th July 2012, 16:17

    Astonishing Fernando

1 2 3

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.