As with yesterday, Saturday was looking like a battle between the Ferrari’s and Red Bull’s and once again, despite their updates, the McLaren pair do not look likely to get a look in; yet whereas Fernando Alonso finished Friday afternoon on top of the time sheets, by the end of third practice Sebastian Vettel had turned that particular table around.
Following a (mostly) wet Friday, the teams were hoping for some dry running, but as the clock struck the hour and the green lights in the pitlane flashed brightly, droplets of rain tumbled down one again. It was especially difficult for the Virgin squad who arrived on the second day with front wing updates, only to have their running interrupted.
Another driver that had a poor morning was Adrian Sutil in his Force India – a drive shaft failure killing his car halfway around the track. Sutil did get his car back to the pitlane, but it would take over four minutes as the German crawled around at a snails pace.In what was quite an exciting session for the front runner’s, Felipe Massa was fastest early on, but as the session ran down, the track dried and the times came down significantly – the Ferrari driver would spend the latter part of the session swapping fastest laps with Jenson Button Button, Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton; as well as the aforementioned Vettel and Alonso.
Qualifying sessions rarely come this close. There are the occasional races where times run extremely close – and of course there is the famous qualifying at Jerez for the 1997 European Grand Prix, where Jacques Villeneuve, Michael Schumacher and Heinz-Harald Frentzen all scored identical times at the front end of the grid in their respective Williams’ and Ferrari machines.
Nearly thirteen years on and while Ferrari remain close to the top, it was the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel that claimed pole position for the 2010 German Grand Prix, with a margin of only 0.002 of a second ahead of Fernando Alonso. As both duelled for the front of the grid, other competitors fell backward. Felipe Massa and Mark Webber looked good and while both lined up on the second row, they were over half-a-second slower than the leading German.
Behind the Red Bull’s and Ferrari’s, there was not much to hope for the rest of the grid. Jenson Button beat his team mate Lewis Hamilton in the battle for row 3, while the rest of the top 10 was filled out by Robert Kubica, Rubens Barrichello and the two Nico’s of Rosberg and Hulkenberg.
One could easily see the irony in Hulkenberg being the driver that would deny Schumacher a place in the final qualifying session at Hockenheimring; as the original Willi Weber creation lost out by 0.008 of a second to Weber’s latest prodigy in the Williams. To be fair, both Mercedes struggled and Rosberg was also lucky to get through – as he found speed on his final run in Q2, Michael lost some. Both Sauber’s and Toro Rosso’s would unsurprisingly join Schumacher exiting qualifying at this point, as did Vitaly Petrov – the young Russian losing out for the 11th consecutive race to his Polish team mate at Renault. A frustrated Adrian Sutil had the 14th best time, but a 5-place grid penalty for a changed gearbox will leave him 19th for tomorrow’s race.
Timo Glock would also suffer from a 5-place penalty as the German also needed a gearbox change. Indeed, it was a dire session for the Virgin-branded Manor squad, as Lucas di Grassi did not even set a time due to a brake failure – both Virgin’s will line up at the back. With them will be the Force India of Vitantonio Liuzzi – the Force India suffered a terrible crash five minutes into the first stint as the Italian went wide exiting the final corner, was catapulted across the track and into the pitwall, destroying the front right and forcefully removing a wheel, a nose and chunk of carbon fibre.
Trulli lead the new teams at the end of Q1 – a good performance by the Italian, getting his Lotus to within 9-tenths of Alguersuari and 2.7 seconds behind the fastest Q1 runner, Alonso. The difference in talent was once again on display at Hispania as Bruno Senna easily out-qualified Sakon Yamamoto with 1.3 seconds to spare.
Germany, Qualifying (July 24th)
1 VETTEL Red Bull 1m13.791s
2 ALONSO Ferrari 1m13.793s
3 MASSA Ferrari 1m14.290s
4 WEBBER Red Bull 1m14.347s
5 BUTTON McLaren 1m14.427s
6 HAMILTON McLaren 1m14.566s
7 KUBICA Renault 1m15.079s
8 BARRICHELLO Williams 1m15.109s
9 ROSBERG Mercedes 1m15.179s
10 HULKENBERG Williams 1m15.339s
11 SCHUMACHER Mercedes 1m15.026s
12 KOBAYASHI Sauber 1m15.084s
13 PETROV Renault 1m15.307s
14 SUTIL Force India 1m15.467s
15 DE LA ROSA Sauber 1m15.550s
16 ALGUERSUARI Toro Rosso 1m15.588s
17 BUEMI Toro Rosso 1m15.974s
18 TRULLI Lotus 1m17.583s
19 KOVALAINEN Lotus 1m18.300s
20 GLOCK Virgin 1m18.343s
21 SENNA HRT 1m18.592s
22 LIUZZI Force India 1m18.952s
23 YAMAMOTO HRT 1m19.844s
24 DI GRASSI Virgin no time
Germany, 3rd Free Practice (July 24th)
1 VETTEL Red Bull 1m15.103s
2 ALONSO Ferrari 1m15.387s
3 WEBBER Red Bull 1m15.708s
4 MASSA Ferrari 1m15.854s
5 ROSBERG Mercedes 1m16.046s
6 HAMILTON McLaren 1m16.207s
7 SCHUMACHER Mercedes 1m16.473s
8 BARRICHELLO Williams 1m16.481s
9 KUBICA Renault 1m16.646s
10 HULKENBERG Williams 1m16.743s
11 KOBAYASHI Sauber 1m16.882s
12 BUEMI Toro Rosso 1m16.990s
13 BUTTON McLaren 1m17.037s
14 PETROV Renault 1m17.148s
15 DE LA ROSA Sauber 1m17.220s
16 ALGUERSUARI Toro Rosso 1m17.341s
17 LIUZZI Force India 1m17.538s
18 KOVALAINEN Lotus 1m19.193s
19 TRULLI Lotus 1m19.607s
20 SENNA HRT 1m20.533s
21 YAMAMOTO HRT 1m21.538s
22 DI GRASSI Virgin 1m23.444s
23 GLOCK Virgin 1m23.873s
24 SUTIL Force India no time