Rain master Alonso ends 31 race drought to take pole at soggy Silverstone

Top three in qualifying for the British GP: Michael Schumacher (third) pole winner Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber (second)

Jul.7 (GP247) Fernando Alonso rose to the occasion at Silverstone, in torrid conditions, to snatch pole position for the British Grand Prix and  end a 31 race pole drought for himself and the Maranello squad – they last started from top spot on the grid back at the 2010 Singapore GP.

Pole sitter Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari celebrates in parc ferme. Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday 7 July 2012.In truth qualifying for round 9 of the 2012 F1 world championship was something of a lottery, and this time around experience counted as the sport’s more experienced drivers hogged the top six places on the timing screens – four of them world champions…

Ferrari nearly duffed their chances in Q2 when they sent their cars out with the wrong tyres, but in Q3 they timed everything perfectly, and from the moment the two Ferrari drivers hit the track they were optimally positioned, with the Pirelli intermediates bolted on, to maximise their laps.

Ultimately it paid off as several drivers popped on to the top line of the timing screens in the last few minutes of qualifying with Alonso making his name stick to the top on his final run to take his 22nd career pole and break a long run of no top spot starts.

Alonso said afterwards, “It was tricky conditions for everyone. You have to be calm in some difficult moments. In Q2 we were on the red flag in positions 15 and 16, Felipe and me. We went through and then in Q3 we had the difficult choice between inter and full wet. When we saw everyone on the inter, we relax[ed] a little and put a lap together.”

Fernando Alonso Ferrari Silverstone British Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso Ferrari Silverstone British Grand Prix

“It was not easy. To complete a lap with no huge mistakes is not easy in these conditions. I’m happy to be on pole after nearly two years. 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,” added the Spaniard who won last year and this year will be aiming for his third grand prix victory in Britain.

For the final few minutes of the session Mark Webber looked a likely candidate to nab pole, but the Red Bull driver fell short – by a mere 0.047 seconds.

Webber reflected, “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.”

Michael Schumacher showed why he was considered the rain-meister in his heyday as he powered to third place on the grid, despite being sent out by his team, first on full wets, he returned for inters and popped his best lap in the single lap afforded him. He comprehensively outshone his teammate Nico Rosberg who failed to make it into Q1 and will start from 13th on the grid.

Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB8. Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday 7 July 2012.“I think we look reasonably competitive in wet conditions on both the wet and intermediates so rain is welcome tomorrow. It was an exciting session today, particularly in Q2 when I had the wrong visor on. It didn’t have anti-fog so I didn’t have much visibility and found myself sideways at Becketts but we recovered in the delay. I’m very happy to be third, it’s good for the team and thanks to all of the guys,” said Schumacher.

Rosberg in turn accepted that he did not have the pace when it mattered, hence the early shower, “We were not quick enough today in general and I don’t know why. We were quick in those conditions yesterday but there is still always tomorrow. The race will probably be all over the place so I can still get a lot of points.”

Sebastian Vettel aborted his final run  after a small error, and settled for fourth spot on the grid despite a huge sideways moment on the final corner of his best lap.

The world champion said, “It was a tough day and it is raining again so we will see what happens tomorrow. It was difficult at the end but I think we should have been a bit quicker.”

Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03. Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday 7 July 2012.Although he was nearly a second down on his teammate, Felipe Massa enjoyed one of his better qualifying performances of the year on his way to setting the fifth best time, in the Ferrari, but by his own admission a couple of small errors on his best lap cost him.

“I think the situation was very tricky for us and we had red flag when we were P16. Fortunately we had time to do some more laps. We were fighting for pole in Q3. I had some mistakes on the last sector of my best lap which was not good for me but looking at where our car was, I think it is very positive where we are starting,” reflected the Brazilian.

From the word go Kimi Raikkonen was compromised as he was informed that he had no KERS for qualifying. This failed to deter the Iceman as he dug deep to be in contention despite the handicap. The 2007 British GP winner will start from sixth.

Pastor Maldonado was gain the shining light for Williams as he progressed into Q3 and ended the session seventh best, while his teammate Bruno Senna failed to make it beyond Q2 and will start 15th on the grid.

Best of the British, in eighth was Lewis Hamilton who struggled with lack of grip with his McLaren MP4-27, ending almost two seconds down on Alonso’s best but nevertheless well up on his teammate Jenson Button, who continues to struggle and this time failed to make it out of Q1 and will start 18th. Not the kind of weekend the Woking squad were targeting on home soil.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8. Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday 7 July 2012.Hamilton could not mask his disappointment, considering he was second fastest in Q2, “I am not happy. Eighth is not the best position but that is life. I struggled a lot and could not get temperature into the tyres for some reason. I also had no grip and we were skidding all over the place. We will try and understand why and fix it for tomorrow. The fans have been great, they have been very patient and were so supportive. Unfortunately we did not get the front row but we can still push through tomorrow.”

Button, who has not been on the British GP podium despite 11 attempts throughout his career, reflected on the shortest qualifying session he has had so far this year, “It got wet for some reason in the last sector and it is a pity, but it was not meant to be. The good thing is that these guys are running around for two more sessions on their tyres and it is going to rain tomorrow. It is going to be very difficult for everyone but I will have better tyres. I would rather put on a much better show for fans on Saturday but it is the story of my year, not getting heat on the fronts so I am not too upset. I know I can drive a car in the wet.”

Ninth fastest was Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India, who appears to be getting the upper hand, of late, in his battle with Paul Di Resta who failed to progress into Q3 and will start 11th.

Lewis Hamilton at British GPThe Scot explained, “It was a difficult one. It was under yellow but that is not something I can look at it is something for the stewards. Tomorrow we are still hopeful, we start in a reasonable position.”

Starting from 10th in the race and probably the most disappointed of them all was Romain Grosjean  who was comfortably into Q1, but opted to do another flyer but messed it up and his Lotus ended up beached in the gravel. A tough one for the Frenchman who would have fancied his chances for a shot at pole.

“I don’t know yet [why I spun] I just know I lost the rear of the car. I probably made a bit of mistake and that was that,” admitted Grosjean.

It was a marathon qualifying session, as rain pelted down in Q2, which prompted a red flag 36 minutes into the qualifying as the track turned into a pond with large puddles forming relentlessly.

Immediately the mutterings in the pitlane was that the stoppage benefited the bigger teams, with Ferrari being the big winner as they sent their boys out on the wrong tyres for Q2…

Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E20 spins ito the gravel. Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday 7 July 2012.Nevertheless 170 minutes later, after much sweeping by the Silverstone marshals and admirable patience from the huge crowd braving the elements, Maldonado led the top nine – Grosjean watching from his pit garage – out of the pitlane.

Last word to pole winner Alonso, “It was an important day for us. Almost two years with no pole for Ferrari is a long time. This pole is welcome. If the conditions stay the same we could see any type of race tomorrow. We could see safety cars and some rivers on the track that could put you at risk. Tomorrow will be a very demanding race and we need to be prepared.”

Subbed by AJN.

British Grand Prix Qualifying – Saturday, 17 July 2012

Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:46.515 1:56.921 1:51.746 25
2 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:47.276 1:55.898 1:51.793 23
3 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:46.571 1:55.799 1:52.020 22
4 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:46.279 1:56.931 1:52.199 23
5 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:47.401 1:56.388 1:53.065 24
6 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:47.309 1:56.469 1:53.290 24
7 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:46.449 1:56.802 1:53.539 25
8 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:47.433 1:54.897 1:53.543 25
9 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:46.334 1:55.556 1:54.382 22
10 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:47.043 1:56.388 No time 20
11 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:47.582 1:57.009 19
12 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:46.649 1:57.071 18
13 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:47.724 1:57.108 17
14 16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:47.266 1:57.132 18
15 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:47.105 1:57.426 19
16 17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:47.705 1:57.719 18
17 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:46.494 1:57.895 19
18 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:48.044 12
19 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1:49.027 10
20 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:49.477 10
21 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1:51.618 10
22 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:52.742 11
23 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:53.040 10
24 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1:54.143 10
Q1 107% Time 1:53.718

Note – Kobayashi & Vergne drop 5 & 10 grid spots respectively for causing collisions at previous round. Hulkenberg drops 5 for gearbox change. Pic failed to make 107% mark – races at stewards’ discretion.

  • Butterfly

    There’s no such thing as a Rain Master.

    Still, it’s obvious having better car-control helps a lot in these conditions. Alonso is 1.3s ahead of Felipe while Webber is 0.4 ahead of Vettel.

  • Matthias O’keeffe

    That’s wonderful. The rain meister is back!!!

  • AlonsoFan

    yeah I am sorry YallaF1.Alonso isnt a “rain master” he just drove a bit better than few when it mattered most.this over exaggeration eg of 2011 when everyone was like “vettel is unbeatable” or the “next Schumacher” is just for grabbing people’s attention

  • JEFFO

    Brilliant lap from Fernando! Correction to the text: it’s round 9, not 11 of the 2012 championship.
    Butterfly, can’t agree with you, there are clearly drivers that master wet conditions far better than others, just look at time gaps in other qualifyings and on this one…

  • Butterfly

    @JEFFO:

    Well, I just said it’s all about car control. If the car is trying to move sideways and you’re able to catch it and drive the lap you’re clearly going to get the lap time.

    Car control is most obvious in slippery conditions like today. I guess a Rain Master™ is one with excellent car control like Alonso, Hamilton, Webber, though the latter is not as fast in the dry.

    Cheers

  • f1 fan

    Pastor is again in front of Hamilton, !! Hope that this time nothing goes wrong, aggressive drivers need to be very careful for tomorrows race in the wet conditions (Maldonado, perez etc)

  • f1 fan

    For me the original Rain master is Ayrton Senna, however Alonso and Shumacher demonstrated good control of the car in such extreme conditions.!!

  • Forza Ferrari

    Hopefully Alonso finishes in the same position tomorrow as well and hopefully Felipe can make up a few places, that would be absolutely wonderful. Great quali result for Ferrari! Go Ferrari-Go Alonso-Go Felipe!

  • Hawk

    there’s no such thing as rainmaster. One time it was MSC, Hamilton, JB, Alonso, Perez and Kamui also think they are. I mean any good driver with a good car on the day can have a good wet race. MSC was “rain master” at the time Ferrari dominated.
    As for Alonso’s pole I’ll have to wait and see what Charlie has to say about Grosjean’s yellow. Many teams are not happy and are watching. I recall a team that counted it’s 150th pole but do not have it to date and going by their current form (read car) are not about to have it!

  • Editor

    @ Everyone
    The title Rainmaster in this instance is relevant to being the best in the rain on the day – mastering the rain better than his rivals on the day in other words – and for the record there have been many Rainmasters in F1 throguh the ages: Rudolf Caracciola, Jacky Ickx, Ronnie Petersen, Hans Stuck, Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher – in our book it is not a unique title but one that gets passed on not only era to era, but season to season, even race to race…
    Today at Silverstone Alonso was the Rainmaster – if Webber had taken pole it would have been him – poetic license they call it! :)

  • Harsha

    @AlonsoFan
    we all know Sebastian is not at level of Fernando and he wasn’t experienced too like Alonso
    He was giving his best and we all know Vettel was slow in Wet Conditions but on these Changing Conditions being his Fan i thought he will be No higher up than P7 or P8 but he was just .45 off Alonso Blinder shows he was Improving and Don’t forget He still has a Lot of career

  • Prince

    Race counts not qualifying :P wet race means everybody can win including the back dude can do it

  • assad khan

    look at lewis inspecting the tire of the red bull, cool!

  • Tamburello_1994

    We can sure use some of that rain here in Chicago. . . . .