What can I say about 2011 qualifying that I haven’t said 100 times before?
It sucks and it really isn’t getting any better. However, there have been some sessions better than others, and I guess you could probably lump 2011’s German Grand Prix qualifying in the better pile. Though I must stress, being in the ‘better pile’ isn’t much of an achievement.
The Virgin Team seemed particularly eager to start the session as both cars queued at the lights.
Jerome D’Ambrosio set the first time of 1:41:351, but as per usual, it wasn’t long before the various teams took up their usual spots on the time sheets.
So by the half-way stage we had the newer teams at the bottom, the top six places locked out by Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren and the best of the rest jostling for positions in the midfield.
At this early stage it was clear that Red Bull were fast as usual, McLaren were hanging on (with Lewis Hamilton the clear favourite), and if Ferrari were going to challenge it was going to have to be led by Fernando Alonso.
For yet another week, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa felt uncomfortable enough to waste yet another vital set of the softer tyres in the first session (regular viewers of F1 will know that to use the soft tyres in Q1 as a top driver is a deadly sin! The softs are so precious that you dare not waste them).
Anyway, Massa got through and Kamui Kobayashi became the unlucky driver to join the "new" teams in the dropout zone. What’s this, you cry? Kobayashi out in Q1? Surely for such an exciting driver to be demoted in the first session there must have been a tight race to the finish? Right!?
Nope, Kobayashi simply stayed in the pits for some reason having set a pretty mediocre set of times. It seems to be believed that this could benefit Kobayashi in the race as he can carve through the positions in a faster car and save those ever so god darned precious tyres!
Q1 Top 3
(all on the soft tyre)
Kamui Kobayashi, Heikki Kovalianen, Timo Glock, Karun Chandhock (who replaces Jarno Trulli this weekend because….?), Vitantonio Liuzzi, (who will actually start last because of a gear box change), Daniel Ricciardo
Sergio Perez opened this one with a 1:33:84.
Within the first few minutes the top six were locked out again, but I think it is worth mentioning that this session wasn’t actually too bad.
Yes, Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull were all fine and this meant that the top six felt comfortable enough to stay in the garage with a pathetic four minutes remaining! However, Mercedes GP had looked off color all session and the races for positions seven through 10 were well and truly on.
There was a great fight between Mercedes, Force India, Renault and Pastor Maldianado’s Williams.
As the session drew to a close Nico Rosberg locked out P7, but there were still three places up for grabs.
First, Pastor Maldinado looked to be safe when he popped up into P9 at the expense of Michael Schumacher. Then Paul Di Resta knocked Maldinado into P10.
With minutes left, Schumacher found some time and clawed his way back up to P8! Then Nick Heidfeld locked out the session in P10. Maldinado was now out but there were still two men on track who could mix things up.
First Adrian Sutil smashed into P6 at the expense of his team mate and then all eyes turned to Vitaly Petrov.. could he do the same to his team mate?
The answer? Yes! Vitaly Petrov scraped through with an excellent performance to earn a place in the knock out zone. As I said, this session wasn’t a classic, but I think it was Q2 that saved the German GP qualifying from being just another boring Saturday hour.
Q2 Top Three
Nick Heidfeld, Paul Di Resta, Pastor Maldinado, Rubens Barrichello, Sergio Perez, Sebastian Buemi, Jamie Alguersuari
I don’t quite know how to approach Q3 as in theory I guess it was pretty good. However, I couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed by it all.
Fernando Alonso set the first time of 1:30:86, but all his promise that had built up over the practice sessions seemed to wither away when he was first toppled by Lewis Hamilton, and then Mark Webber with a blistering 1:30:25.
Sebastian Vettel joined Webber on the front row soon after, but it looked as if the final showdown would be between Webber and Hamilton.
Alonso tried again and was better, but not good enough. The Mercedes men were no match and God knows what Jenson Button was doing.
In the end Lewis Hamilton provided a pretty welcome injection of drama when he sped into P2 with what felt like the final time of the day, but as I say I wasn’t leaping up and down.
What can we say about the race then?
Well, apparently there is something like a 25 percent chance of winning from pole at the Nuremberg GP so things aren’t actually looking that good for Webber!
In fact, things aren’t exactly great at Red Bull in general. Sebastian Vettel has looked a bit out if it all weekend and I think the team are a bit fragmented after their actions and comments following the British GP.
Mercedes are frankly out of it, and Jenson Button has yet again given himself a mountain to climb after a poor show in qualifying.
I think the race will be between Hamilton and Alonso and there I think we could be in for a treat. If you factor rain into that equation, well who knows what could happen.
Fingers crossed eh!?
1 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:30.07
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:30.13
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:30.21
4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:30.44
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:30.91
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:31.26
7 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:31.28
8 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:32.01
9 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:32.18
10 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:32.48
11 Nick Heidfeld Renault 1:32.21
12 Paul Di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:32.56
13 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1:32.63
14 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:33.04
15 Sergio Perez Sauber 1:33.17
16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:33.54
17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:33.69
18 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:33.78
19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1:35.59
20 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:36.40
21 Karun Chandhok Lotus-Renault 1:36.42
22 Jerome d'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1:36.64
23 Daniel Ricciardo Hispania-Cosworth 1:37.03
24 Vitantonio Liuzzi Hispania-Cosworth 1:37.01