British GP – Silverstone: Rain Interrupted Qualifying

Fernando Alonso qualified his Ferrari on pole position ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber and Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher in a rain interrupted qualifying session. And when I say rain interrupted; I mean literally; the Q2 session was red flagged with six minutes left on the clock and Saubers’ Sergio Perez topping the times. It was over an hour and half before the cars returned to the track to complete qualifying. More bad press in a weekend the BRDC would like to forget!

Q1 ended with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel topping the time sheets as the weather played a big part in the session; we don’t often see Hulkenberg, Maldonado and Perez ahead of eventual pole sitter Alonso. Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen started the session with bad news; his KERS unit wasn’t working; which hindered his progress somewhat; finishing the session in 12th but safely through to Q2. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton found himself down in 14th place as the chequered flag fell on Q1; but like Raikkonen was safely through to the next session. Hamilton’s team mate Jenson Button found himself down in 18th place and despite being 1.7 seconds inside the time required to progress to Q2; a slippery final sector and waved yellow flags meant he remained in 18th and out of qualifying.

As the Q2 session started; the rain started to fall consistently and heavily, most cars leaving the pits on intermediate tyres, having to pit the next lap to change onto full wet tyres which seemed to be equally as ineffective in the British summer downpour. Schumacher, Alonso and Felipe Massa all went for a spin in the tricky conditions, Alonso skillfully avoiding the wall. Even Hamilton complained about the track being too slippery; you know it’s dangerous when Lewis reports the track to be undriveable. So with 6 minutes and 19 seconds remaining on the clock; the red flag came out; and we saw no more action for an hour and a half. As the red flag was waved; Perez was sitting in pole position but it didn’t stay that way when the session resumed as the Mexican fell down the order and out of the top 10 shootout; being replaced by Lewis Hamilton at the top of the Q2 timesheets while other drivers were thwarted by waved yellow flags after Romain Grosjean beached his Lotus in the gravel trap; ending his qualifying despite making the Q3 session with a fifth place finish!

Q3 saw pole position change several times between three drivers, Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa. Alonso eventually won the battle for pole just under 5/100ths of a second ahead of Webber. Massa eventually fell back to fifth place as Schumacher and Vettel leapfrogged him in the closing moments of the session. British hopes were dashed as Hamilton could only manage to qualify in 8th place; a distant 1.8 seconds off the fastest time, but 8/10ths ahead of Hulkenberg.

The qualifying result should mean some fireworks tomorrow; especially with Hamilton on the fourth row and Button back in 18th; assuming that Button can get his tyres “switched on” in the race. But I’d be putting my money on Alonso to win; things just seem to be going his way of late; a great driver with luck on his side; you’d be a fool to bet against him, but that luck will end sometime.

* Jenson Button will start from 16th after Kamui Kobayashi and Jean-EricVergne suffer penalties.

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