Fernando Alonso has been the stand-out driver of 2012, as the only driver to have won two races thus far. But before yesterday, the Spaniard had not yet secured a pole position this season. That changed in a drenched Silverstone qualifying session.
The rain came down just before the start of Q1, as a result of which drivers queued to get out on track as quickly as possible – fearing that the rain would intensify and the track become slower. As usual, both Caterhams, both Marussias and both HRTs were eliminated in the first session. The big name to fall out in Q1 was Jenson Button, who was on a quick lap towards the end of the session but was the victim of yellow flags in the final sector when a Marussia spun on the start-finish straight.
As if the weekend hadn’t been wet enough already, the rain pelted down in Q2, to the point that several drivers found themselves passengers in aquaplaning cars. With just over six minutes remaining, race control decided that conditions were too wet for the session to continue, and put out the red flag. The session was stopped for over an hour before the track was safe for qualifying to resume, at which point the 17 remaining drivers streamed out to set times in the few remaining minutes of the session. Eliminated in Q2 were di Resta, Kobayashi, Rosberg, Ricciardo, Senna, Vergne and Perez.
Q3 saw laptimes dropping constantly as the track dried out. After pole changed hands almost every lap, Alonso emerged on top ahead of Mark Webber and Michael Schumacher. Vettel, Massa, Raikkonen, Maldonado, Hamilton, Hulkenberg and Grosjean rounded out the top ten. Grosjean had failed to set a time in Q3 after spinning into the gravel right at the end of Q2.
Kobayashi drops 5 places and Vergne 10 after causing collisions at the previous race in Valencia. Hulkenberg and Pic have gearbox penalties and therefore drop 5 places each. In Pic’s case that makes no difference to his grid position, after he did not qualify within 107% of the fastest time in Q1. The stewards have nonetheless allowed Pic to race, and he will start 24th and last.
The provisional grid after penalties is as follows:
|2||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull|
|4||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull|
|10||11||Paul di Resta||Force India|
|12||16||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso|
|14||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India|
|21||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT|
|23||17||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso|