Mark Webber takes his second consecutive pole position, edging out a surprising challenge from Lewis Hamilton and McLaren.
In the build-up to qualifying, the McLaren team were not expected to challenge for pole position honours following a low-key practice form. But in the all important top-ten shootout, Lewis Hamilton and McLaren turned out to be the biggest threat to Webber and Red Bull.
And yet, the Australian was able to response with an impressive lap time of one minute, 30.079 seconds to maintain Red Bull Racing’s excellent form in qualifying this season.
As for his team-mate Sebastian Vettel, he will start his home race in only third position as Lewis Hamilton drove a ‘wicked lap’ to split the Red Bulls. This is the first time that the championship leader is not on the front row.
Silverstone winner Fernando Alonso had to settle for fourth for Ferrari. This was a disappointment following some promising speed in the practice sessions leading up to qualifying.
Webber looked unbeatable throughout Q3, producing a one minute, 30.251 seconds on his first flying lap and then improving to one minute, 30.079 seconds to put himself out of reach from his rivals.
Hamilton was third after the first runs, was briefly pushed down to fourth place by Alonso, but then blasted to second position with a lap only 0.055 seconds down on Webber.
Vettel’s second attempt was not quick enough to reclaim the outside front row spot, while Alonso was 0.4 seconds off the pole pace as he took fourth, half a second clear of his fifth-placed Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa.
Nico Rosberg opted to run a single flying lap to qualify his Mercedes in sixth, ahead of Jenson Button, who was a second away from his McLaren team-mate.
Adrian Sutil reached Q3 for his home Grand Prix and gave Force India eighth position, ahead of Renault’s Vitaly Petrov and national hero Michael Schumacher in the other Silver Arrows.
Nick Heidfeld and Paul di Resta could not match their Renault and Force India team-mates’ progress into Q2 so will share the sixth row, ahead of the Williams duo, with Pastor Maldonado out-qualifying Rubens Barrichello by four tenths of a second.
After three start in P18 – Jaime Alguersuari finally got beyond Q1 again – though he only made it as high as P17, just behind Toro Rosso team-mate Sebastien Buemi. The pair are in between the Saubers, with Sergio Perez in P15 and Kamui Kobayashi being eliminated in Q1.
Karun Chandhok got within 0.823 seconds of Team Lotus team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, though the Indian could not prevent Virgin Racing’s Timo Glock sneaking between the Lotus duo.
Daniel Ricciardo showed highly encouraging pace in his second Grand Prix qualifying session, as he was only 0.025 seconds adrift of Hispania team-mate Tonio Liuzzi on the back row. And he will start ahead of the Italian in any case due to Liuzzi’s gearbox change penalty.
Qualifying times from the Nürburgring:
1. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1n30.079s
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1n30.134s
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1n30.216s
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1n30.442s
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1n30.910s
6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1n31.263s
7. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1n31.288s
8. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1n32.010s
9. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1n32.187s
10. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1n32.482s
11. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m32.215s
12. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m32.560s
13. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m32.635s
14. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m33.043s
15. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m33.176s
16. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m33.546s
17. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m33.698s
18. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m33.786s
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m35.599s
20. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m36.400s
21. Karun Chandhok Lotus-Renault 1m36.422s
22. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m36.641s
23. Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1m37.036s
24. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m37.011s*
*Five-place penalty for gearbox change.
107 per cent time: 1m38.253s