German GP: Qualifying wrap-up
THIRD GP WIN IN SIGHT: Fernando Alonso could earn his third Grand Prix win of the season and extend his lead even further at the upcoming German Grand Prix.
Championship leader Fernando Alonso secured his second consecutive pole position when he outpaced his rivals in qualifying for the German Grand Prix.
The two-time world champion drove his Ferrari with supreme judgement as he goes in pursuit of his third drivers' title.
Alonso clocked a time of one minute and 40.621 seconds during brief dry conditions at the end of the final Q3 shoot-out to trim his own fastest lap time to stay ahead of rivals.
Alonso was four-tenths of a second faster than nearest rival and defending double champion Sebastian Vettel of Germany and his Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber of Australia.
Alonso said: "You know, sometimes it's good to check the circuit conditions, as we did in Q3.
"Going into Turn 6 was not easy for anybody, a lot of aquaplaning, but everything went well for us. We made a good strategy call to do a pit stop in Q3 so we could have fresher tyres in the last minute.
"I think that helped us a lot to improve the lap time. It has been a strange weekend for conditions on the track, but the car was performing well in both conditions so we will see what happens tomorrow (Sunday) in the race," he said.
German local hero and seven-time champion Michael Schumacher was fourth fastest in front of a big crowd of his dedicated fans, with another German, Nico Huelkenberg, taking fifth place on the grid for Force India.
Williams' Pastor Maldonado was sixth ahead of the McLaren pair of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, whose bright promise in dry conditions in practice on July 20 was not converted into grid positions in the rain.
Button's relative success in taking seventh place was the first time this year that he has outpaced Hamilton in qualifying.
Paul Di Resta, was ninth in the second Force India, ahead of Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen.
Vettel said: "In these conditions, it was tricky. You can lose the car a bit in the rivers, but I think we had the car today to put on pole. We need to look at the strategy Alonso touched on. Maybe that was better, but in these conditions it is a bit of a lottery.
"Fortunately we didn't lose the car and we are on the front row, which should be good. I am starting on the inside as well, so we will see what happens.
"You can't rule out McLaren. They've been quick in qualifying all weekend. In the last part of qualifying, I don't know what went wrong, they were a bit far behind. They will be quick and Lotus have been quick in races. It's still extremely close. We are consistent and able to finish in the top three, which is the key, so we try to do out best tomorrow and see what the weather does," he said.
On another rainswept day that made conditions treacherous, Kimi Raikkonen topped the times in the opening period before more intense rain made the track even more dangerous, with plumes of spray and a high risk of aquaplaning.
Making the most of the potential of his revised McLaren car with a new package of improvements, Hamilton showed his prowess by topping the times in scintillating fashion.
In the difficult conditions, it was no surprise to see drivers struggling to improve their times as the rain fell and both Felipe Massa and Nico Rosberg, of Ferrari and Mercedes respectively, were among the drivers who failed to make Q3.
As if by magic, the circuit then began to dry rapidly as the weather conditions changed and this condemned the unfortunates from Q2 to sit and watch in Q3 as the drivers traded fastest laps in pursuit of pole.
Qualifying results from the Formula 1 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim:
1. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 1min40.621
2. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull 1min41.026
3. Mark Webber (Australia) Red Bull 1min41.496
4. Michael Schumacher (Germany) Mercedes 1min42.459
5. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Force India 1min43.501
6. Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams 1min43.950
7. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1min44.113
8. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren 1min44.186
9. Paul Di Resta (Britain) Force India 1min44.889
10. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Lotus 1min45.811
11. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Toro Rosso 1min39.789
12. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Sauber 1min39.933
13. Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber 1min39.985
14. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 1min40.212
15. Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus 1min40.574
16. Bruno Senna (Brazil) Williams 1min40.752
17. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1min41.551
18. Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso 1min16.741
19. Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) Caterham 1min17.620
20. Vitaly Petrov (Russia) Caterham 1min18.531
21. Charles Pic (France) Marussia 1min19.220
22. Timo Glock (Germany) Marussia 1min19.291
23. Pedro de la Rosa (Spain) HRT 1min19.912
24. Narain Karthikeyan (India) HRT 1min20.230
1-10: Third and final qualifying session 11-17: Second qualifying session 18-24: First qualifying session
Starting grid for the Formula 1 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim:
1. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari
2. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull
3. Michael Schumacher (Germany) Mercedes
4. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Force India
5. Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams
6. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren
7. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren
8. Mark Webber (Australia) Red Bull
9. Paul Di Resta (Britain) Force India
10. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Lotus
11. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Toro Rosso
12. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Sauber
13. Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber
14. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari
15. Bruno Senna (Brazil) Williams
16. Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso
17. Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) Caterham
18. Vitaly Petrov (Russia) Caterham
19. Charles Pic (France) Marussia
20. Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus
21. Timo Glock (Germany) Marussia
22. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes
23. Pedro de la Rosa (Spain) HRT
24. Narain Karthikeyan (India) HRT
German Grand Prix practice results: