German GP - Fernando walks on water!
Hockenheim, 21 July – Fernando Alonso looked rather surprised as he posed for photographers, flanked by the two Red Bull drivers, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, immediately after the qualifying session for the German Grand Prix. As the Spaniard later said in the press conference, in conditions like today’s a driver concentrates on driving and only looks at his position when it’s over. Maybe it had not yet dawned on him that he had just taken his second consecutive pole position following on from the one at Silverstone a fortnight ago, in similarly difficult conditions.
Actually, difficult is not a strong enough word: atrocious is better, given that cars were aquaplaning everywhere in Q2 and Q3 as a loud thunderclap just as the second session was beginning signalled the arrival of a torrential rain storm, after a dry Q1. Once again, the Ferrari man proved to be more than a match for the conditions, improving his time towards the end to ensure he was around four tenths faster than the rest. In the other F2012, Felipe Massa was less fortunate, as he ran wide at one point, losing time on what should have been the lap to get him into the top ten shoot out. It was a situation from which he could not recover as the track simply got wetter from then on. Having set the fourteenth fastest time, he will start tomorrow’s 67 lap race from 13th spot, as Perez takes a five place penalty in the Sauber to drop behind the Brazilian. While Vettel shares the front row with the Spanish Ferrari man, Webber is one of many taking a five place penalty that drops him to eighth spot. This means the second row is now an all-German affair, with Schumacher’s Mercedes on the inside of Hulkenberg’s Force India.
Webber’s misfortune can do Fernando’s championship aspirations no harm and the same goes for Hamilton who is down in seventh on the grid. However, we saw in Silverstone in the final stages of the British GP, how important tyre strategy can be and that will again be a key factor tomorrow, in the tenth round of the world championship. It should be a fascinating battle, not only between the men at the wheel on track, but also the engineers at their computer screens on the pit wall.