Fernando Alonso, Ferrari

German GP – At Hockenheim the spread gets smaller

A wet qualifying an Alonso qualifying: it’s a poor rhyme but an accurate summary of the second consecutive pole position for Scuderia Ferrari and its Spanish driver, on a wet track here at Hockenheim, just as it was at Silverstone. It’s a shame that this positive outcome did not extend to Felipe Massa, who unfortunately went out in Q2 and will start from thirteenth place tomorrow. This is pole number 22 for Fernando, the fourth with the Scuderia. It’s the first time since 2004 that a Ferrari will start the German Grand Prix from pole, something it has done a total of 19 times in this race, bringing its pole tally overall to 207.

Stefano Domenicali: “Once again, Fernando has demonstrated just how talented he is: that was some qualifying from our driver! Here, as at Silverstone, the rain played its part in the qualifying session and it was not easy to manage the evolution of the track conditions. We are very disappointed for Felipe, who did not find an acceptable grip level in what was his only lap, the first in Q2, in which he could have done a time that would have got him through to the next part: it’s a shame, because he could definitely have been competitive in Q3, as was the case two weeks ago in England. It’s difficult to make any predictions regarding tomorrow, because there’s a good deal of uncertainty relating to the behaviour of the tyres over a long run. We will try to make the most of our potential, aware that our opponents are very strong. Reliability as always is the priority, which is something we never forget…”

Fernando Alonso: “I am very happy! When qualifying is run in these conditions, it’s very difficult to put together a clean lap and it’s very easy to end up in the grass, the gravel or in the wall! It’s something of a fight for survival: before anything else, you have to get to the end and then look at where you’ve finished. Then, when you hear on the radio that you’ve got pole, it is extremely satisfying, because there’s a feeling you really have given your all. The car was going well in all conditions, which is encouraging, as it means that we can be in the fight whatever happens, be it dry or wet. In Q2, we went out immediately, hoping to do a time on the first lap, because we knew the rain would intensify. At the end, we fitted the Extremes, because we at least wanted to have a rough idea of what the conditions would probably be like in Q3. The last part of qualifying was very problematic because there was aquaplaning, to such an extent that we did not use the KERS and you couldn’t use seventh gear on the straight. Managing to take pole in such extreme conditions is really gratifying! Tomorrow I expect that the strategies will be not be too different among the top teams, but with a good degree of flexibility. Looking at the championship, clearly I can’t be unhappy about the fact that two strong competitors like Hamilton and Webber start on the fourth row, but we know how quickly things can change. The start will be important, but not decisive, as we have 67 laps to get through… A Spaniard on pole in Germany in an Italian car? I don’t mean to be political, but it’s definitely a curious set of circumstances!”

Felipe Massa: “I am very disappointed with the way qualifying went. I did not manage to do a time at the start of Q2 because I went wide at Turn 8 and so was unable to put together a good lap in the only window available to do so. At that point on the track, the tarmac is different and it is very easy to lock the wheels and thus lose a lot of time. Then, it was raining so hard that there was aquaplaning: I had to try and stay on track while also trying to improve my time, but the conditions meant this was absolutely not possible, even when I tried with the Extremes. It’s a real shame, because the car was and is competitive, both in the wet and in the dry, but tomorrow I will start too far back to fight for the top places. I will do my very best, as always. It will be important to choose the right tyres at the right moment: we have some idea, but it’s a fact we were unable to do many long runs over these two days.”

Pat Fry: “Once again, Fernando had a fantastic qualifying, getting the most out of the car or maybe even a bit more than that! Felipe could have been there fighting for the top places, but he did not manage to get the most out of the Intermediates on his first lap with them in Q2 and then the conditions meant it wasn’t possible to improve enough to avoid being eliminated. In Q3, we decided to use two sets of Extremes, because we saw yesterday that they overheated very quickly and were only at their best in the opening laps. I can’t honestly say if that was the decisive move, because one must also take into account that, when Fernando made his second run, the track conditions were improving and it was easier to go quicker. A word of praise for all our mechanics, who did a great job after FP3 of preparing the cars, especially Felipe’s after it picked up a bit of damage in an off-track excursion. Now we must concentrate on preparing for a race that will be long and packed with unknowns, starting with tyre performance over a long run. How many pit stops? Ah, good question…I’d say between one and four!”

Qualifying session

Q1 ALO 4th 1.16.073 8 MAS 7th 1.16.265 9
Q2 ALO 4th 1.38.521 8 MAS 14th 1.40.212 8
Q3 ALO 1st 1.40.621 7

Weather: air 18/16 °C, track 22/20 °C. Cloudy, rain.

Chassis: Alonso 296, Massa 294

German GP – Alonso the rain master
Hockenheim, 21 July – A bravura performance from Fernando Alonso saw him take pole for the second race in a row in a time of 1.40.621, four tenths faster than Vettel in the Red Bull (1.41.026) and the German’s team-mate Webber (1.41.496.) Concerns that rain might arrive for qualifying were proved correctly as it arrived at the start of Q2: at the end of Q1, the two F2012s were fourth and seventh, but the weather spoilt the teams’ plans during Q2. The Ferraris went out on Intermediates before moving to Extremes when the rain got heavier. Fernando managed to stay in the top ten in fourth place, but Felipe Massa was down in 14th and therefore out of the final session. The rain persisted into Q3, with all drivers again running Extremes. Towards the end, the Spaniard improved his lap time twice, finally setting the time that will see him start from the number one slot on the grid tomorrow afternoon at 14h00.

German GP – Final practice just escapes the rain. Ferrari fastest in the dry
Hockenheim, 21 July – Fernando Alonso took his Ferrari to the fastest time in the third and final free practice session for the German Grand Prix. It was run in the dry, right up to the very last minutes, after rain had prevented any worthwhile evaluation of tyres and cars yesterday. The Spaniard had a good feeling from his car on his way to a 1.16.014, ahead of the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton (1.16.091) and the Sauber of Sergio Perez (1.16.202.) In the other F2012, Felipe Massa was eighth in 1.16.771 and, like his team-mate, he came back down pit lane ahead of schedule to avoid yet another downpour. Prior to qualifying, the programme of comparing the various aero solutions was brought to an end in preparation for the tenth round of the World Championship. Both drivers used the Medium and Soft tyres from Pirelli, for whom this is their first experience at this circuit, as last year’s race took place at the Nurburgring.