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FIA F1 - Alonzo On Pole At Hockenheim

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Hockenheim, Jul. 21, 2012: Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso took pole position twice for Sunday’s German round at Hockenheim. First he lapped his Ferrari in 1m 40.904s in soaking conditions in Q3 that required Pirelli’s extreme wet tyres. Then, after Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber had come up short with 1m 41.026s and 1m 41.496s for Red Bull, Alonso banged in a lap of 1m 40.621s just to rub it in.

The rain had come in Q2 and never really let up, though its intensity ebbed and flowed. And it is likely that some teams may have steered closer to dry set-ups in expectation of better weather for the race.

Michael Schumacher pleased the crowd with fourth place for Mercedes on 1m 42.459s after a strong effort, while late improvements put both Nico Hulkenberg and Pastor Maldonado ahead of the McLaren duo. Hulkenberg lapped his Force India in 1m 43.501s, Maldonado his Williams in 1m 43.950s.

McLaren’s Jenson Button just pipped Lewis Hamilton with 1m 44.113s to 1m 44.186s. The silver cars had been very quick in Q2, but seemed to struggle in Q3. Paul di Resta was at one stage third fastest, but had to be content in ninth with 1m 44.889s in the second Force India, and Kimi Raikkonen was a subdued 10th for Lotus on 1m 45.811s.

As expected, the rain arrived with some thunderclaps long before the start of Q2, obliging everyone to run Pirelli’s full wet tyres. Hamilton lost no time going fastest and then improved to 1m 37.365s which left him miles ahead of Schumacher’s 1m 38.010s.

Further back, if you didn’t get going soon enough you weren’t going to make it, and Daniel Ricciardo was the first to find Toro Rosso hadn’t quite timed it right as his 1m 39.789s best wasn’t enough to dislodge Raikkonen from 10th place with 1m 39.729s. That was a shame as the Australian was on strong form.

The Saubers didn’t run at the right time, leaving a very disappointed Sergio Perez 12th on 1m 39.933s and Kamui Kobayashi 13th on 1m 39.985s. Behind them, Felipe Massa was 14th on 1m 40.212s, and there was a moment of anxiety for Ferrari when Alonso nearly ran into the back of him.

Romain Grosjean had several off-track moments and wound up only 15th on 1m 40.574s which left his Lotus ahead of Bruno Senna on 1m 40.752s for Williams and Nico Rosberg on 1m 41.551s for Mercedes.

Q1 had been a race against the rain and brought disappointment for Jean-Eric Vergne. The Frenchman had lapped his Toro Rosso in 1m 16.741s and when Schumacher recorded 1m 16.919s he seemed safe, but then the crowd favourite trimmed down to 1m 16.686s and Vergne was out.

Caterham’s Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov were 18th and 19th on 1m 17.620s and 1m 18.531s respectively, with Charles Pic acing Marussia partner Timo Glock with 1m 19.220s to 1m 19.291s. Pedro de la Rosa managed 1m 19.912s for HRT, leaving his team mate Narain Karthikeyan last on 1m 20.230s.

With five-place grid penalties applied in the correct order to Grosjean, Rosberg and Webber - and then to Perez after the session when the stewards ruled that he had impeded both Raikkonen and Alonso in Q2 - the final order will look like this: Alonso, Vettel; Schumacher, Hulkenberg; Maldonado, Button; Hamilton, Webber; Di Resta, Raikkonen; Ricciardo, Kobayashi; Massa, Senna; Vergne, Kovalainen; Perez, Petrov; Pic, Grosjean; Rosberg, Glock; De la Rosa, Karthikeyan.