Alonso takes second straight pole in Hockenheim

By on Saturday, July 21, 2012

With rain once again dominating qualifying, just as it did in Silverstone two weeks ago, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso has taken his second consecutive pole position in wet conditions, this time using the Pirelli Cinturato Blue full wet tyre.

The P Zero White medium tyre has been nominated for the race along with the P Zero Yellow soft: a combination that was last used at the Grand Prix of Europe in Valencia.

All the frontrunners started Q1 on medium tyres, in overcast conditions with a high risk of rain and cool conditions of 17 degrees ambient and 25 degrees of track temperature. The fastest time of the session was set by Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen using the medium tyre: 1m15.693s, which turned out to be the quickest lap of the weekend so far.

During the short break between Q1 and Q2 rain started to fall, meaning that the 17 drivers who went through were straight out to put in a lap before conditions worsened. All the drivers started on the Cinturato Green intermediates, with grip lessening notably as the rain fell harder and standing water began to form. With five minutes of the session to go, Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg was the first driver to switch to the Cinturato Blue full wets, but the fastest time was set by McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton using the Green intermediate.

The rain fell harder still before the start of Q3, meaning that the top 10 all used the Cinturato Blue full wet: again with the priority of setting a time immediately in case conditions deteriorated. However, with the rain stopping after five minutes, the track gradually dried – meaning that pole position was decided in the closing seconds, with Alonso setting a time of 1m40.621s. The Spaniard changed to a fresh set of wet tyres before his final run to benefit from extra grip and find some traffic-free space.

Just as was the case at Silverstone, the final free practice session on Saturday morning in Hockenheim took on a crucial significance, with the drivers getting their first chance to run on the P Zero Yellow soft tyre. The session remained dry until six minutes from the end, with Alonso going quickest when he tried the soft tyre for the first time.

After two days of uncertain conditions, the forecast is for dry weather tomorrow, but the teams are still lacking a complete weekend of data on the slick tyres at Hockenheim, which Pirelli is visiting for the first time as official Formula One tyre supplier.

Tyres used by the top ten qualifiers:

Alonso: 1:40.621s - Wet
Vettel: 1:41.026s - Wet
Webber: 1:41.496s - Wet
Schumacher: 1:42.459s - Wet
Hulkenberg: 1:43.501s - Wet
Maldonado: 1:43.950s – Wet
Button: 1:44.113s - Wet
Hamilton: 1:44.186s - Wet
Di Resta: 1:44.889s - Wet
Raikkonen: 1:45.811s - Wet

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