Alonso on pole at Silverstone
Session halted for over an hour due to floodings
Fernando Alonso claimed his and Ferrari’s first pole since 2010 and 21st of his career after topping the times during yesterday’s rain-drenched qualifying session for today’s British Grand Prix.
The Spaniard, who won last year’s Silverstone race and is leading this season’s drivers standings, clocked a fastest lap of the very wet Silverstone circuit in one minute 51.746 seconds.
That scintillating effort edged out Mark Webber, of Red Bull, by less than five hundredths of a second.
Despite almost missing out on Q3, Alonso, fastest in the morning, rose to the occasion and set his fastest time on his final lap which was enough to see off Webber and claim Ferrari’s first pole in Britain since 2003.
The double champion said he was delighted to have put an end to Ferrari’s run without poles but played down the significance of his grid position, suggesting the weather would have the biggest role to play.
He said: “I’m happy to be on pole after nearly two years, but in these conditions the qualifying is probably the least important of the year but obviously for visibility it is always better to be on pole.”
“It was tricky conditions for everyone. You have to be calm in some difficult moments – in Q3 we had the difficult choice between inter and full wet (tyres), but when we saw everyone on the inter, we relaxed and put a lap together.”
Webber said: “It was a very tight session. You don’t know how it’s going, you just focus on yourself. In a session like this, it’s a huge amount down to the driver to get comfortable in the car. It was nip and tuck with Fernando to get pole.”
Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher of Mercedes was third fastest ahead of defending champion Sebastian Vettel in the second Red Bull.
Felipe Massa was fifth-fastest in the second Ferrari followed by Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus and Spanish Grand Prix winner Pastor Maldonado of Williams.
Home-hero Lewis Hamilton on McLaren was eighth-fastest for McLaren ahead of German Nico Hulkenberg in the second Mercedes.
Frenchman Romain Grosjean was unable to run after he spun at the end of Q2 and failed make it back to the pits – he will start tenth.
Despite a relatively dry run during yesterday morning’s final practice, the rain began to fall moments before qualifying started.
That meant all 24 drivers were forced out on track in a desperate attempt to secure a decent lap time before the rain took full effect.
Vettel went fastest, but out went McLaren driver Jenson Button, who, despite having a reputation for his wet weather driving and performing in front of his English home crowd, could not put an end to his dismal qualifying run which has plagued him since the Spanish Grand Prix in May.
The 2009 champion started his last-chance lap with 20 seconds of the opening session to go. But failed to make the cut by three-tenths of a second, finishing 18th fastest, his worst qualifying performance of the season.
He joined Caterham drivers Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov, and Marussia driver Timo Glock, Hispania duo Pedro De La Rosa, Narain Karthikeyan and Charles Pic in the second Marussia who opted not to run after receiving a five-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox before qualifying.
Drivers continued to struggle as conditions worsened in Q2 and after an array of ‘almost’ crashes and spins which involved Schumacher, the session was red-flagged with just over six minutes remaining.
After more than an hour’s wait, the session resumed and Hamilton topped the times.
Paul Di Resta wound up 11th in the second Force India. Japanese Kamui Kobayashi was 12th for Sauber ahead of Nico Rosberg of Mercedes who also received a five-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox on Friday.
Today’s grid at Silverstone
1. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari - 1:51.746
2. Mark Webber, Red Bull - 1:51.793
3. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes - 1:52.020
4. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull - 1:52.199
5. Felipe Massa, Ferrari - 1:53.065
6. Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus - 1:53.290
7. Pastor Maldonado, Williams - 1:53.539
8. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren - 1:53.543
9. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India - 1:54.382
10. Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus - NT
11. Paul di Resta, Force India - 1:57.009
12. Kamui Kobayashi, Ferrari - 1:57.071
13. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes - 1:57.108
14. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso - 1:57.132
15. Bruno Senna, Williams - 1:57.426
16. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso - 1:57.719
17. Sergio Perez , Sauber - 1:57.895
18. Jenson Button, McLaren - 1:48.044
19. Vitaly Petrov, Caterham - 1:49.027
20. Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham - 1:49.477
21. Timo Glock, Marussia - 1:51.618
22. Pedro de la Rosa, HRT - 1:52.742
23. Narain Karthikeyan, HRT - 1:53.040
24. Charles Pic, Marussia - 1:54.143
1. Alonso 111, 2. Webber 91, 3. Hamilton 88, 4. Vettel 85, 5. Rosberg 75, 6. Raikkonen 73, 7. Grosjean 53, 8. Button 49, 9. Perez 39, 10. Maldonado 30, 11. Di Resta 27, 12. Kobayashi 21, 13. Schumacher 17, 14. Hulkenberg 17, 15. Senna 15, 16. Massa 11, 17. Vergne 4, 18. Ricciardo 2.
1. Red Bull 176, 2. McLaren 137, 3. Lotus 126, 4. Ferrari 122, 5. Mercedes 92, 6. Sauber 60, 7. Williams 45, 8. Force India 44, 9. Toro Rosso 6.