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.

Q1

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

Q2

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

Q3

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

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132 comments on Alonso rides his luck for Silverstone pole position

  1. Anyone know what do the rules say if Q3 is wet like today and if by some chance the race starts dry, do the Q3 qualifiers still need to start on the tires they qualified with (inters/wets)?

  2. Rahim.RG (@rahim-rg) said on 7th July 2012, 17:52

    Raikkonen for Victory!!!! :)

  3. Osvaldas31 (@osvaldas31) said on 7th July 2012, 17:53

    I tip Schumacher for victory. He was flying not only with inters, but also on full wets and just blew away Rosberg. Looks like Schumacher is really turning his luck.

    • vho (@) said on 7th July 2012, 18:11

      Schumi was definitely flying… every time the TV went to him he was flying off the track in Q3!!! LoL. But good luck to him, would be nice to see him win one.

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 7th July 2012, 19:24

      I don’t understand how people are saying Schumi was flying?? Sure, he put in a solid lap to get in p3, but he had a couple of huge spins and was all over the place for most of quali.

      • Mauritus said on 7th July 2012, 22:04

        Those spins were aqua planing, cuz of his car’s low height.
        When they changed it, he was strong,; remember when he was on full wets he was competing with Alonso who had interns.
        As per the Q3 result, I believe it was a mistake going out on wets, while the track was perfect for interns. Although he could manage just one flying lap with his interns he got P3, while alonso and everyone else had interns since the start of Q3, meaning everyone else did have up to three hot laps on interns, which seem to come into their best temperature window on the 2nd or even 3rd lap.
        In other words, I believe that Schumi could have had pole today if he would have started Q3 on interns. I just hope rain comes down heavy tomorrow so we can see the rainmeister do this thing… ;)

  4. vho (@) said on 7th July 2012, 18:17

    So much for McLaren’s advantage on this fast track… It seemed to be doused out by a bit of water…

  5. DC (@dujedcv) said on 7th July 2012, 18:29

    Is Murray Walker going to do do commentating tomorrow (or at least part of it) ??

  6. Supremo said on 7th July 2012, 18:30

    I also like to point out that even in those conditions you can clearly see that the Red Bull car has improved significantly and it wasn’t the hot track on valencia that gave them the edge.

    Mclaren , Lotus , Mercedes and Ferrari fans might want to keep their fingers crossed for more wet races , since Red Bull might blitz away from the rest in this second half of the championship.

  7. Daniel2433 said on 7th July 2012, 18:38

    um, why hasn’t Alonso been investigated for setting fastest time with a yellow flag? Fernando International Assitance?

    Last week was safety car.

    • TheGreatTeflonso said on 7th July 2012, 19:19

      He was investigated and deemed that he slowed down. Um why haven’t you been investigated for obvious bias?

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 7th July 2012, 19:29

      Last week was safety ca

      I don’t know if you’re being sarcastic or serious.

      • Klaas (@klaas) said on 7th July 2012, 19:48

        Hopefully it’s the former. It would be just too sad if he was serious.

        • F1_Americana (@f1americana) said on 7th July 2012, 20:06

          I find on this site, if you’re going to be sarcastic, you have to lay it on REALLY thick, or few will get it. Hence my comment about Ferrari’s weather manipulating device, and the illegal traction control system installed in Fernando’s prosthetic right foot. :D

      • Yoshisune (@yobo01) said on 7th July 2012, 20:10

        Or he could be Helmut Marko.

  8. Duke (@duke) said on 7th July 2012, 20:47

    Alonso is still on fire but Ice Cool Schumi is warming up nicely.

    Great qualy,nail biting stuff,as Schumi says,”bring on the rain!”

  9. racerdude7730 (@racerdude7730) said on 7th July 2012, 21:15

    Any one else want Schumacher pull out a win as much as I would love it? Also if he would win do you think we would get the Schumacher jump on the podium? God I’d love to see that jump once more, he would be excited

  10. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 7th July 2012, 21:20

    I didn’t see any onboards of Alonso, but during the live broadcast I thought I saw him correct a slide in the very corner that Grosjean was parked… I must have been wrong otherwise that doesn’t strike me as ‘sufficiently slowing down’.

    I’m a little bit worried by McLaren’s lack of pace on the intermediates. Hamilton said afterwards that he couldn’t switch on his tyres, and it looked like he would have been able to set a faster time on full wets, because in Q2 in much worse conditions he was only 1 second slower than his Q3 effort. The reason this worries me is that it is unlikely that tomorrow will be completely dry, or continually soaking wet (and if it is soaking wet it’s not likely they’ll race), so you would expect drivers to spend most of their time on intermediates.

    Good to see Webber and Schumacher up there, and I hope they can prevent our championship leader from extending his lead even further.

  11. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 7th July 2012, 21:26

    Good title, by the way, @keithcollantine; as much as Button’s story of the season is switching on his tyres, Alonso’s is capitalizing on things that come his way, IMO.

  12. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 7th July 2012, 22:19

    What a completely mad session…and subsequent comments following qualifying. Honestly, don’t get how some people think. Button was unlucky and Alonso displayed brilliant control for his pole lap.

    Anyways, yeah, great session. We had a different result from Caterham with an impressive .4s gap between Petrov and Kovalainen. Pity they couldn’t take advantage in the wet so I’m keen to see how their upgrades will fare up in the future. I was kinda hoping for the sun to shine as soon as Button went out, that way people would start to scrub their dry tyres and he would benefit from virgin rubber tomorrow.

    Shame that Sauber suffered so much after the resumption of Q2. Just realised that Kobayashi beat Perez so well done to him.

    Q1 was just crazy! The right man put it on pole, he didn’t benefit from others misfortune, he got in tune with the track and made only 1 slight mistake. Looking forward to watching it again tomorrow.

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