Alonso on pole position after rain-delayed session at Silverstone

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso claimed his first pole position since the 2010 Singapore Grand Prix after surviving a spin and a yellow flag incident in a wet and heavy delayed qualifying session at Silverstone.

The session was interrupted for over an hour and a half when the level of standing water became impossible to handle. By the time it resumed, conditions were much improved, and although full wets were still the best choice for the remaining six minutes of Q2, intermediates were the way to go in the pole shoot-out.

Mark Webber looked to be in good shape as he put himself 0.8 seconds clear of the pack with a time of one minute, 51.793 seconds in the closing minutes, only for Alonso to pip it by 0.047 seconds. Webber’s reply was not quite fast enough and he had to be content with second position.

Germany’s two Formula One world champions will share row two with Michael Schumacher ahead of Sebastian Vettel. The Mercedes driver produced one of his best qualifying efforts to take third ahead of the Red Bull of Vettel.

Scuderia managed to got both its cars in the top five with Felipe Massa in fifth.

Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus starts alongside the Brazilian, with Spanish Grand Prix winner Pastor Maldonado next up for Williams.

Lewis Hamilton was the best-placed British driver on the grid with eighth for McLaren. Nico Hulkenberg was ninth but will lose five places due to a gearbox change on his Force India.

Romain Grosjean qualified for Q3 only to the spin into the gravel at Vale at the end of Q2. The Lotus driver had to sit out Q3 and settle for tenth.

Inevitably there were some midfield upsets in the rain. Nico Rosberg was third at the red flag but tumbled to P13 after the restart while Sergio Perez dropped even further. The Sauber driver was the fastest before the stoppage, but his choice of intermediates proved too ambitious and he dropped down to tumbled to P17.

And yet the biggest story from Q1 was yet another Silverstone disappointment for Jenson Button. The McLaren driver could do no better than P18, and his hopes to get through on his final lap was dashed by yet more rain arriving in the third sector plus yellow flags for Timo Glock’s spun Marussia on the exit of Club.

Hamilton was the only home driver in the top ten, Force India’s Paul di Resta being edged out of a Q3 place by Alonso in the closing moments, leaving the Scot in P11.

Qualifying positions, Silverstone:

1.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m51.746s
2.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m51.793s
3.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes             1m52.020s
4.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m52.199s
5.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m53.065s
6.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault        1m53.290s
7.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m53.539s
8.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes     1m53.543s
9.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes 1m54.382s
10.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        no time
11.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m57.009s
12.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari       1m57.071s
13.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m57.108s
14.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m57.132s
15.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault     1m57.426s
16.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m57.719s
17.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari       1m57.895s
18.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m48.044s
19.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault     1m49.027s
20.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault     1m49.477s
21.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth    1m51.618s
22.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth         1m52.742s
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth         1m53.040s
24.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth    1m54.143s

107 per cent time: 1m53.718s

8 thoughts to “Alonso on pole position after rain-delayed session at Silverstone”

  1. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso expects to keep his pole position despite a yellow flag incident at Club Corner. Autosport.com has the story.

    Fernando Alonso says he does not expect his British Grand Prix pole position to come under any threat over the end-of-Q2 yellow flag situation as he is confident he backed off sufficiently.

    The Ferrari driver only got into Q3 thanks to a late improvement in Q2, when he looked set to be eliminated.

    Alonso’s jump into the top 10 came at a time when yellow flags were out at Vale after Romain Grosjean had spun his Lotus into the gravel, but the championship leader was adamant that his time gains had come elsewhere around the Silverstone circuit.

    “I didn’t set a green sector on that lap,” Alonso said. “I backed off in the area they were taking the car away.”

    Alonso’s last pole prior to Silverstone was at the 2010 Singapore GP. The Spaniard secured his return to the head of the grid at Silverstone after a close battle with Red Bull’s Mark Webber, and while happy with the result, Alonso admitted it might not mean much in the race if the weather was as wild as has been forecast.

    “We are happy with pole position after nearly two years for Ferrari. For Ferrari it’s a long time,” said Alonso. “With these weather conditions the qualifying is one of the least important of the year, because everything will be mixed after a few laps tomorrow, but with visibility it’s better to start at the front so I am happy.”

    Ferrari was near the back of the pack when qualifying was red-flagged for an hour and a half due to the level of standing water on the track, having made the wrong tyre choice of intermediates for the start of Q2.

    Alonso said his change of fortune showed how easy it was to get things wrong in the conditions.

    “In wet conditions you never know, you need to be in the right place at the right time when you do the lap, and the lap has to be clean with no huge mistakes,” he said. “When you find yourself on pole position that can be surprising.”

    Alonso was one of the drivers who had called for a red flag after he had a wild spin on standing water out of Becketts early in Q2, and was pleased with the decision to pause the session.

    “It was impossible to run – a good decision to red flag and also a good decision waiting for the time the circuit was in condition to run again,” he said. “Sometimes we criticise the decisions when we are not happy with them, today they are doing a very good job. First priority was safety.”

  2. Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel believes that the rain will make the British Grand Prix “a lottery”. Autosport.com has the details.

    Sebastian Vettel fears the British Grand Prix will be a big lottery if the conditions remain the same for the race as in Saturday’s qualifying.

    The grid-deciding session had to be red-flagged because of the torrential rain, and Vettel finished in fourth position once it was resumed.

    The Red Bull driver believes Sunday’s race will be very tough if, as expected, conditions do not improve significantly.

    “It could be a big lottery just like today with conditions like that,” said Vettel. “It will be a tough day. Now it’s raining again and it’s probably the same weather tomorrow. It will be a long race.”

    Vettel thinks he could have gone slightly quicker during Q3, but said he only had one lap when the conditions were at their best.

    “Unfortunately in the end it was quite difficult with only one lap when the conditions were probably best,” he said. “Not ideal for us in terms of traffic but the lap I had was clean. I had some mistakes. It’s the same for all of us. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”

    The world champion also backed the decision to stop the session when it was clear the conditions were impossible to drive in.

    “I think it was the right call to red-flag the session. Race direction did well. And then after that I think it was tougher for the people in the grandstands than for us because we are sitting in a dry garage. For them it’s a shame but that’s how it is. You can’t manipulate the weather.”

  3. Michael Schumacher says a wet British Grand Prix will give him the best opportunity of staying up front. Autosport.com has the news.

    Michael Schumacher believes he has a good chance of shining in the British Grand Prix if the race takes place in the wet.

    The Mercedes driver continued to show his team’s strong form on a wet track when he secured third place on the grid for Sunday’s event.

    After that, the seven-time champion reiterated he would welcome more rain on race day.

    “I think we look reasonably competitive in wet conditions, either on inters or full wet,” said Schumacher. “So therefore rain is welcome tomorrow.

    “But it was a bit of an exciting session today, particularly Q2. I’m happy with third – good work by the boys.”

    Schumacher said he did not push to the limit during his final flying lap because he did not want to risk going off.

    “I think it was only initially difficult to decide, but when you give it a watch and see what others are doing it was clear inter was the tyre to be on,” he added. “I didn’t want to make a mistake so I left a margin.

    “Nevertheless to finish third was good for us. I am quite pleased for this. It’s a good position to start the race from and depending on the conditions we have tomorrow maybe I am on the lucky side as it might be drier. But mixed conditions will be very much appreciated by me.”

    Team-mate Nico Rosberg was knocked out in Q2 and will start from 12th position.

  4. Yet again, McLaren’s Jenson Button suffered a nightmare qualifying session. The 2009 world champion will start his home race in P17. Autosport.com has the story.

    Jenson Button is optimistic that he will be able to come through the field from 17th on the grid in Sunday’s British Grand Prix.

    The McLaren driver – who has never finished on the podium in his home race in his Formula 1 career so far – struggled for tyre temperature early in Q1, then was stymied by the return of the rain and yellow flags for Timo Glock’s Club spin when on a much better lap at the end of the segment.

    Button was 18th fastest, but will gain one position from Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne being demoted 10 places for his clash with Heikki Kovalainen in Valencia.

    With more rain expected on Sunday, Button hopes that saving tyres in qualifying could turn out to be advantageous.

    “We don’t get that many tyres, so this could actually be a good thing,” he said. “If tomorrow’s wet – which we think it’s going to be – then we haven’t put as much mileage on the tyres. You’ve got to take the positives, because it was a very unlucky session.”

    He added: “Obviously I’d rather put on a much better show for the fans on Saturday, but not getting heat into the fronts is the story of my year so I’m not too upset. It’s pretty normal and I know I can drive a racing car in the wet, so it shouldn’t be a problem tomorrow.”

    Button said the difference between the two sets of tyres he used in Q1 was significant, but that he had grown accustomed to such problems this season.

    “It felt completely different [on the second set],” he said. “I came out of the pits and could actually get heat into the tyres straight away and it felt good, whereas with the first set I came out of the pits and had front shuddering and just couldn’t get fronts up to temperature. The story of my year, really.”

    The Briton had no doubt that his final lap would have got him beyond Q1 but for the rain around Stowe and Club, and the yellows for the stranded Marussia.

    “I gained almost 1.7s according to my dash compared to the previous lap-ime, which wouldn’t have just got me in, it would’ve given us the quickest laptime,” said Button. “It’s a pity but it just wasn’t meant to be.”

  5. As for his McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton, eighth was the maximum possible following a rain-delayed qualifying session. Autosport.com has the details.

    Lewis Hamilton says eighth represented the maximum he could have hoped for in qualifying for the British Grand Prix given his lack of grip on the intermediate compounds.

    The Briton had finished fastest in Q2, but as conditions improved and the field switched onto intermediates in Q3 he was unable to find any grip and ended with a share of the fourth row.

    “It was difficult, it is always is qualifying in the wet, but we really struggled. For some reason the tyres wouldn’t switch on in Q3, and we had no grip,” Hamilton said.

    “The extremes worked really well, then I came in because I thought it was drying and they [intermediates] would give us the best grip and I was just sliding like crazy.

    “I can’t for the life of me understand why the tyres didn’t switch on there. It’s very, very rare that I cant get my tyres working, but I was pushing and pushing and there was no grip there. Something is not right.”

    Hamilton said his tyre woes disguised the true pace of the McLaren, and that his hopes for tomorrow’s race had therefore not been dented.

    “The car is quicker than what we did, but I didn’t have any grip so couldn’t go faster,” he explained. “I did everything I could; I couldn’t have done better.

    “We’re not that far away though. Unfortunately didn’t get the front row but we can still push through tomorrow. From eighth, everything is still possible.”

    Asked whether he was surprised at Ferrari capturing its first pole of the year, Hamilton added: “No. They won the last race, and have been good on their intermediates. For some reason they can switch them on and we didn’t.

    “Ferrari is just quick and worked their tyres properly and so is Red Bull. I’m not frustrated though.

    “I would have loved to be a bit higher, but tomorrow is the day that really counts.”

  6. Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen says not switching immediately to intermediates in Q3 limited his qualifying potential. Autosport.com has the news.

    Kimi Raikkonen feels he could have improved on sixth place on the grid for the British Grand Prix if he had switched to intermediate tyres earlier in the final part of qualifying at Silverstone on Saturday.

    The Finn, who ran throughout qualifying without the KERS working on his Lotus, said that having only one flying lap on the inters meant that it was difficult to get enough heat into the tyres and that his final lap was also hindered by rain falling again on the Stowe/Club section of the circuit.

    “I think we should have probably started with the intermediates in Q3 so we got some more heat in them,” he said afterwards. “We only got one lap on them so that probably wasn’t ideal but I think we did the best job that we could from that position so…

    “It’s not ideal if it rains tomorrow because there is a lot of spray but it is what is.”

    Asked how much time he thought he lost by not switching from full wets to inters earlier, Raikkonen replied: “I don’t know. It’s one of those things that you cannot say, but for sure it would have been easier when you get more heat in the tyres and you probably can go faster. But it’s our choice and it probably wasn’t the ideal.”

    Raikkonen also lost an estimated 0.3s per lap because of the KERS issue, though he admitted that the changeable conditions had reduced the impact of the problem on his performance.

    “Probably it doesn’t hurt so much because you cannot use it as effectively, but you still get it on the straights,” he said. “For sure it is not as bad as in the dry but we have it because it’s going to make us faster so…

    “I don’t know [what the problem was], they [Lotus] probably know the issue by now and they will try to fix it for the race. We tried already twice to change the battery but it wasn’t that so it is something else that they have to find. They are allowed to change it if they find an issue.”

  7. Bruno Senna admitted he was possibly over-cautious in Q2 at Silverstone, but said after recent bad luck and penalties, he did not want to risk getting a grid demotion for a yellow flag infringement in the end-of-session rush.

    Yellows came out in the final sector at the end of Q2 when Romain Grosjean spun his Lotus into the gravel at Vale. Senna said he was particularly careful and ended up 14th fastest, while Williams team-mate Pastor Maldonado went through to Q3.

    “I’ve been getting some bad luck in the last few races with what’s been happening on the track and punishments, and I didn’t want to push my luck today,” said Senna.

    “It’s a question of talking to Charlie [Whiting] and finding out what he wants – if he wants you to be safe or if he wants you to be very subjectively proving on your telemetry that you slow down.”

    He is confident Williams will be competitive whatever the weather in the British Grand Prix, and said his qualifying performance did not really hint at his potential pace.

    “Unfortunately that’s how it goes. This is a lottery and today we weren’t the winners,” said Senna. “I was driving very conservatively – I don’t have many miles in the car in these conditions so I wasn’t pushing as hard as I could.

    “We can still have a competitive race tomorrow, it’s just harder when you have to come from the back. It’s very frustrating and once again I’m just out of position on the start.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  8. It was a bit depressing watching a rainy Silverstone qualifying especially since it was sunny up north. JB’s performance was embarrassing. Hope Alonso can finish the race in pole tomorrow.

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