Vettel takes pole by 0.002 seconds
Sebastian Vettel has done it again. He appeared to be down on the Ferrari cars but eventually put in a stunning lap, topping Fernando Alonso by 0.002 seconds. Felipe Massa is third, while Mark Webber missed his final lap and is only fourth.
After mixed weather situations earlier in the free practice sessions, qualifying starts on a dry track.
The early pace is set by the Ferrari drivers with Alonso topping the times, ahead of Massa, Button and Hamilton. Neither of the Red Bulls have come out on track before Tonio Liuzzi crashes his car into the pit wall. 6 minutes into the session he went slightly wide in the last corner, on the wet astroturf and spinning across the track into the wall. His front left wheel broke off immediately while the rear end of the car also got pretty badly damaged.
After the debris is cleared, the session is restarted with Lewis Hamilton immediately setting the fastest time, a 1:15.505. Vettel easily improves that by 0.4s while Mark Webber takes fourth while running on a used set of prime tyres. He moves up to P2 the next lap.
6 minutes from the end of Q1, Alonso shaves off another 3 tenths, confirming how the Ferrari F10 has improved over the last few races. The team desperately need a result after some incident filled and disappointing events.
At the same time Lucas Di Grassi is already out of his car, he will not attempt to move through to Q2 any more as his car is again in trouble with a gearbox issue.
After a final series of flying laps, Jarno Trulli is 18th, followed by Kovalainen, Glock, Senna, Liuzzi, Yamamoto and Di Grassi.
At the stat of Q2, the front runners are choosing to take the track early. Tyre choices are different though, as Red Bull, McLaren and Alonso choose for the harder compound, while Massa and the rest of the pack take on the options.
10 minutes into the session, Massa put in 3 laps on his options, ending up with the fastest time. Alonso is just behind him, followed by the Bed Bulls, Hamilton, Kubica and Kobayashi. The Williams cars also well on the pace again, currently in 8th and 10th place.
Even despite looking fairly safe to go through, Alonso and many many others are putting in another effort, all now on the option tyres.
These final laps in Q2 are especially important for Mercedes where both drivers are struggling to make the top ten. Schumacher initially made it but being 0.008s slower than his teammate cost him the top ten when Nico Hulkenberg put his car in 8th.
Michael Schumacher is therefore 11th, faster than Kobayashi, Petrov, Sutil, De La Rosa and Alguarsuari.
Mark Webber then is the first to go out on track in Q3, followed by Felipe Massa. It is however Fernando Alonso who is fastest after a first series of laps. He is the first man to go quicker than 1:14.000.
In preparation of the final shoot out, Vettel is the first man to leave the pits, ahead of the McLarens, Webber, Massa and finally Alonso.
As Vettel crosses the line, he sets the fastest time. Button moves up to fourth, ahead of Hamilton. Massa improves to 3rd and Alonso just missed pole position by 0.002 of a second.