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. Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 7th July 2012, 16:18

    i think this is the longest qualifying session i have ever seen Great pole by Fernando always ready to capitalize
    Di Resta complained in the radio about Alonso ignoring the Yellow flag but independently of what the stewards will decide i think it was a smart decision by Fernando because even if he will get a penalty now i think he will be ahead of P12

    • vho (@) said on 7th July 2012, 17:45

      Agree, it was a smart move by Alonso. Compare that to Button’s move in Q3, he should’ve had a crack at making it to the 17th spot and then let the stewards decide, but instead he’s now at 18th.

      • bag0 (@bag0) said on 7th July 2012, 18:54

        The main difference between the two incidents, that Alonso had a clear view of where the accident happened, but Button did not know why are they weaving the flags, for all he knew there could have been 4 cars piled up at the s/f line, so he had to lift.

  2. IsaacTham (@isaactham) said on 7th July 2012, 16:24

    Apart from the spectacular catch from the Q2 spin and the amazing Q3 lap, Alonso’s pole was down to luck and he doesnt deserve it.
    Firstly, Ferrari made the wrong tyre choice in Q2 and he was 15s slower in the increasingly heavy rain. Had they continued with Q2, it was sure elimination. However, FIA waited until the track had improved over start of Q2 before restarting it. This totally ruins all the effort and clever strategic decisions made by Sauber and the others using Extreme Wets at the start of Q2, and allows Ferrari to escape from their strategic blunder. The fact that he pleaded for the red flag meant that he wanted Q2 to be manipulated to save him from elimination.

    Then, the Grosjean yellow flag incident. Although I heard that he was down on his previous sector best, only a baby can be fooled if he claims that slowing down by 0.03s would be a safe speed when another driver spins in front of you. I did comment on the Live F1F Quali page that Button should have sped up, got into Q2 and accept the penalty, but many commented that safety is the most important, especially in these wet and dangerous conditions. The visibility was terrible, and had Alonso collided into the stationary Grosjean, a bigger accident could have occured. I do think Alonso should be penalised. Ultimately the numbers are meaningless, the fact was that he didn’t slow sufficiently to prevent a potential collision. Had Button done what Alonso did, he would be at the very least, got into Q2.

    At the end of qualifying, I felt cheated. Alonso cheated the clock, Sauber and the FIA. I felt cheated of Sauber being in the mix for pole. Alonso should have been 15th, nothing else said.

    • Mr Lawl. said on 7th July 2012, 16:27

      LOL

    • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 7th July 2012, 16:34

      if you hate Fernando & Ferrari just admit it you’re free to support/hate any one & any team
      but please do not hide your hate by feeling so sorry for Sauber

    • Eggry (@eggry) said on 7th July 2012, 16:35

      Hey, Everyone did their best. That is all.

    • Postreader said on 7th July 2012, 16:35

      Blah blah blah cry me a river. Stop appealing to stipe and mentioning overwhelming exceptions to defend your arguments for Christ’s sake.

    • caci99 (@caci99) said on 7th July 2012, 16:46

      Alonso’s pole was down to luck and he doesnt deserve it.

      Uau. Amazing!

      • IsaacTham (@isaactham) said on 7th July 2012, 16:53

        Did you read the first part of the sentence which qualifies what you quoted above. After all, the qualifying report is titled ‘Alonso rides his luck’ so it would be blind to say that Alonso got there by pure skill.

        I don’t hate Fernando, just that he has too much luck and he/his team(s) can attempt to break a rule without making it seem like he did. See Singapore 08 and more

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 7th July 2012, 17:14

          @isaactham

          Did you read the first part of the sentence which qualifies what you quoted above. After all, the qualifying report is titled ‘Alonso rides his luck’ so it would be blind to say that Alonso got there by pure skill.

          Alonso was fortunate today but you’d have to be blind not to see the skill that was evident in his pole position lap.

          Was fortune on Alonso’s side today? Yes.

          Does he deserve pole position? Absolutely – that was a superb lap. He showed the pace was in the car in final practice. A little bit of good luck going his way does not mean he didn’t deserve to be on pole position.

          • TheGreatTeflonso said on 7th July 2012, 19:16

            To be honest Keith I do feel the title for this post makes it sound like Alonso’s luck was what got him pole… Which is odd cos your posts don’t usually show slant.

            Oh well. It is good to see the best F1 driver show his obvious talent, but I would like to see him have the fastest car once. He hasn’t had the fastest car in a long time. I highly doubt the Ferrari is fastest in normal conditions, so I am hoping for slippery weather, but no torrential downpour.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 7th July 2012, 20:27

            I don’t agree it does show “slant”. I think it’s entirely reasonable to say Alonso was lucky in this session. But it doesn’t diminish his achievement, contrary to what some people think.

        • caci99 (@caci99) said on 7th July 2012, 17:17

          Yes, wrong quote, sorry for that:

          Alonso cheated the clock, Sauber and the FIA.

          I think your opinion at the moment is too emotionally driven. Singapore 2008 is a closed case, and who got involved into it was penalized. Putting others into that mix is not right. By the same logic every one at Renault should have known. Also McLaren should be considered a cheater because of 2007 incident, but I don’t think at all like that. Precedents are not proof of being at fault for an actual action.
          Was Alonso lucky? Yes. Was he there to capitalize on that luck? Yes, again.

    • PeteF12012 said on 7th July 2012, 16:51

      The fact that he pleaded for the red flag meant that he wanted Q2 to be manipulated to save him from elimination.

      Did you not hear Hamilton’s radio message shortly after alonso’s where he also said it was way too wet?

      all the driver radio’s i heard & all the interviews i have heard the drivers have all said they felt q2 shoudl have been red flagged, most think it shoudl have happened sooner than it did.

      • IsaacTham (@isaactham) said on 7th July 2012, 16:56

        Yes but Hamilton had no ulterior motive as he was 2nd, while Alonso clearly did. As Gary Anderson said on BBC, the session should have gone on, drivers/teams can choose if they want to brave out the conditions and run or not, if it’s too dangerous – stay in the pits! The first part of Q2 might as well not have run at all.

        • Klaas (@klaas) said on 7th July 2012, 18:16

          @isaactham It’s not the first time in F1 when qualifying is red-flagged – it is a reasonal safety measure. But yeah, we should completely ignore the drivers’ opinions about stopping the session and listen to Gary Anderson who was trying to keep a F1 car on the track while making that comment. Even Paul Hembery in an interview for RTL said that the conditions in Q2 were overwhelming for the full wet Pirelli tyres (and he didn’t have any motives either). I don’t understand where the luck factor is for Alonso, he resumed the qualifying with the same type of tyres he had when the session was stopped.

          he didn’t slow sufficiently to prevent a potential collision

          Ha ha good one, if he managed to prevent that collision means that he WAS driving sufficiently slow. In the PC Alonso said that he slowed down under yellow flags (comparative lap times show it), the accusation that he didn’t slow down as much as a frustrated hater would have liked is just pathetic.

    • F1_Americana (@f1americana) said on 7th July 2012, 16:51

      Exactly! Not only did Ferrari use an illegal weather manipulation system, but it was clear from onboards from all 3 sessions that Alonso’s car was equipped with traction control. JB was my driver of the day, and he was clearly robbed of pole. He’s so smooth behind the wheel, and that should be worth P1, IMO. ;-)

      • vho (@) said on 7th July 2012, 17:07

        Yeah, that traction control is called ‘his right foot’. As much as I like JB, he got started with Q1 far too early. He and a few others could’ve waited – but then again it would be safer to register a lap in the early stages in case the weather got worse. But at least McLaren (or JB) should’ve pitted earlier for the 2nd set of inters and not wait until the very last moment when all drivers would be taking a higher risk to get further up – and hence Glock’s mistake. JB will have to pull his finger out tomorrow and get on the podium, otherwise he’ll have to kiss this year good bye if Alonso, Vettel, Webber, and Hamilton all score points above him.

      • smokinjoe (@smokinjoe) said on 7th July 2012, 17:11

        He’s so smooth behind the wheel, and that should be worth P1, IMO. ;-)
        maybe jason is way to smooth to properly heat up those front tyres

      • Eggry (@eggry) said on 7th July 2012, 17:12

        haha, this is classic.

      • vho (@) said on 7th July 2012, 17:40

        What I don’t understand is why JB took some many laps and a new set of inters to get up to pace… Look who qualified above him… Senna and two Torro Rosso’s for christ sakes… And this is from a guy that won Canada in 2010 and Budapest last year – all wet. It’s all starting to get a little frustrating watching JB (and sometimes it wasn’t his fault either)… I’m just hanging out for Kimi to win his first race this year.

        • bag0 (@bag0) said on 7th July 2012, 19:06

          @vho He Won in Canada 2011 in 2010 he came in 2nd. His main problem in Q1 was the trafic, he was behind 2 Caterhams, and he was constantly catching them, when the track cleared behind him, we used that gap, and made some better laps, but he still could not heat up the tyres. After he changed, he was clearly faster than those ahead of him, by the way did you see Lewis in P14?
          I think JB just might have a pretty good race, if he makes up some places at the start he can hang back and wait wile the usual suspects starts to spin out. Also having to brand new set of wets might help a little.

          • vho (@) said on 8th July 2012, 16:41

            @bag0 Yes, you are correct about Canada cos he only joined McLaren in 2010.
            But what I find astonishing is that he struggled to get heat into the tyres on the first set and then miraculously found the heat in the 2nd set within 2 laps. I think JB mentioned somewhere where he backed off too much to create a gap and eased his way into Q1 while everyone jumped on the quickest lap they can get asap.

            But the way the race turned out today – I think it’s time to kiss JB’s season good bye as the McLaren is no longer keeping up their development with the other teams… IMO Lotus and possibly Sauber are ahead. McLaren came here with so much promise but delivered very little.

    • Nirupam (@nirupam) said on 7th July 2012, 19:09

      @isaactham You made my day more than the quali session did :)

      P.S. That was pure sarcasm

    • BradFerrari (@brad-ferrari) said on 8th July 2012, 4:28

      LOL! This comment put me in tears. :D

  3. vickyy (@vickyy) said on 7th July 2012, 16:24

    Ohh Caterham!!

  4. sid_prasher (@) said on 7th July 2012, 17:01

    The best part was when Ferrari had P1 and P2….albeit briefly. Massa didn’t improve his time in his last run which is surprising.

  5. Supremo said on 7th July 2012, 17:09

    If tomorrow the teams start on full wets Lewis and Schumacher will have an edge , at least until the track conditions get better.

    Predictions are useless , the front-runners will be shuffled after the first pit stop in wet race conditions.

    • Tete said on 7th July 2012, 17:15

      I think you are wrong. I’m not sure but if the track is very wet the fia makes all the car to wear full sets and if it is like that it will start with the safety car. Also if it rain like today and it keeps raining hard. I wouln’t be surprise that the race is cancelled. The track is not the best at drying out but the biggest problem is the standing water .

    • Tete said on 7th July 2012, 17:17

      Sorry. Now I realized what you meant. What kind of advantage will they get?

      • Supremo said on 7th July 2012, 18:17

        Schumacher in my view is the fastest man on wet conditions in that car and on this particular track , not only that but he is the Rain Master.

        Lewis on the other hand is at home in the second fastest car of the season (so far) and in my not so humble opinion the second best driver on wet conditions , although it seems that those intermediate Pirelli’s are not a good match for his Mclaren.

        In full wet conditions both of them are monsters.

        Alonso will always be Alonso , the fast starting Ferrari will help him protect his pole at the start.

        Webber in my view will not be putting to much heat on alonso , since he knows he has the best car and pushing will make him risk losing valuable points.

        Schumacher will be “pushing like a hell” ; he is thirsty for a win.

        The rest is the rest.

        • timi (@timi) said on 8th July 2012, 3:47

          Lewis on the other hand is at home in the second fastest car of the season (so far)

          I strongly disagree with this statement. Looking back over the last few race lap times, I would say the faster car is the red bull, followed by ferrari and then lotus. The mclaren is then next, but over the race laptimes they are pretty similar to the mercs.

  6. 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)?

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

    Raikkonen for Victory!!!! :)

  8. 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… ;)

  9. 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…

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

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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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!”

  14. 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

  15. 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.

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