Fernando Alonso has taken pole position in a very tense qualifying session that was stopped for a long while due to being too much water on the track. Alonso beat Webber by 5 hundredths of a second while Michael Schumacher will start from 3rd on tomorrow's grid.
At the start of qualifying, light rain is falling and the track is moderately wet. With more rain expected soon, all cars are out in a queue as soon as the light goes green.
Everybody is trying the green marked intermediates and the track is actually drying due to the amount of cars running which offsets the light rain that continues to fall. All drivers out are ordered to stay out as once it is going to start raining more heavily the times will have to be on the timesheet already.
9 minutes into the session, Kobayashi is fastest, ahead of Hamilton, Schumacher, Vergne, Alonso, Massa, Webber, Ricciardo and Vettel. In the drop zone at this moment are notably Button, Raikkonen, Webber and Rosberg.
As rain intensity kept reducing, both Sauber cars change to slicks 8 minutes from the end, but on their first timed laps they soon found out it was too early for the change. In the first two sectors only they lost 4s compared to their best laptime on the intermediates.
With the first set of intermediates already past their best, Button for instance comes into the pitlane and changes to a new set of intermediates. In the closing seconds he managed to be 1.5s ahead of the drop time, but as Glock spun on the start finish line, the resulting yellow flag zone required Button to back off and sacrifice Q2.
That means Button will start from 18th, ahead of Petrov, Kovalainen, Glock, De La Rosa, Karthikeyan and Pic. Vergne and Rosberg were the lucky ones who just managed it through to Q2, while at the front, Vettel was faster than Hulkenberg, Maldonado, Pérez and Alonso.
As Q1 ends, rain increases and makes intermediates somewhat useless. Ferrari and Alonso decided to try them first, but a single lap showed it is now time for the full wets.
Vergne chose to go out on the full wets immediately and sets a first lap of 2:00.082, 15 seconds slower than what was possible in Q1. Everybody is struggling to get the grip. Alonso, Massa, Schumacher and Hamilton, Grosjean and several others were all off track at some time, with Hamilton noting to his engineer that he nearly crashed with a Sauber.
With 6:19 to go in the session, a red flag is out to await better conditions. At this time, Pérez has the fastest time, ahead of Hamilton, rosberg, Vergne, Hulkenberg, Kobayashi, Raikkonen, Webber, Ricciardo and Vettel. Out are currently Maldonado, Di Resta, Grosjean, Schumacher, Massa, Alonso and Senna.
7 minutes past the next hour, the session is on again with once again a queue of cars taking to the track immediately. The Williams drivers are on the intermediates, Hamilton and the Red Bulls are on the full wets. Kobayashi meanwhile comes back into the pitlane after a single lap and changes his inters for full wets as well.
Grosjean's first lap on full wets is promising as he immediately posts the fastest time of the session so far. Alonso is right behind and moves up into second spot. Vettel goes third fastest 20 seconds later while Rosberg is off the track.
Another half minute later Schumacher goes a full second faster still, followed by another improvement by Webber to 1:55.989.
The last man to start a lap is Alonso, while Hamilton behind him is too late but posts the fastest time anyway.
Grosjean is stuck in the gravel trap in the penultimate corner, triggering yellow flags that cause problems for the guys coming up behind him. Alonso is one of them but still posts a 9th time, improving from 12th. Other drivers simple went into the pitlane, hence the stewards will have to do some investigation to see whether the Spaniard has slowed enough in the yellow flag section.
Minutes later it seemed however that Alonso's final sector was not his fastest one, so at least he is allowed to compete in Q3.
Maldonado kicks off Q3 where people seem to be undecided about tyres, with Schumacher going rather well on full wets while Alonso posts the fastest time on intermediates. Schumacher returned back to the pits after Alonso's first lap to change for inters himself, just like Raikkonen who is slowest at the moment.
With 100 seconds to go, Massa moves up into second place, half a second slower than his teammate. Hamilton posts 6th a few seconds later and has a single lap left to improve.
30 secons from the end rain picked up again, making it impossible for him to improve. Alonso did though and moves back into first place, ahead of Webber who was unable to improve. Schumacher is third, Vettel 4th, Massa 5th and then Raikkonen in 6th.
|2||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:47.276||1:55.898||1:51.793||23|
|4||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:46.279||1:56.931||1:52.199||23|
|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|
|22||22||Pedro de la Rosa||Hrt-Cosworth||1:52.742||-||-||11|