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Qualifying analysis - Ferrari throw down gauntlet to Red Bull 24 Jul 2010

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB6 celebrates his pole position in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Hockenheim, Germany, Saturday, 24 July 2010 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F10.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Hockenheim, Germany, Saturday, 24 July 2010 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/25.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Hockenheim, Germany, Saturday, 24 July 2010 Robert Kubica (POL) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Hockenheim, Germany, Saturday, 24 July 2010 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Williams FW32. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, German Grand Prix, Practice Day, Hockenheim, Germany, Friday, 23 July 2010

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel once again took the top grid slot during qualifying for Sunday’s German Grand Prix. But with Fernando Alonso a very close second and his Ferrari team mate Felipe Massa in third, Mark Webber found himself down in fourth in the other RB6. Ferrari it seems have made genuine progress here and both they and McLaren will pose a very real threat to the blue cars on Sunday. We take a team-by-team look at how all the runners performed…

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 13.791s, P1
Mark Webber, 1m 14.347s, P4

Vettel was clearly very happy to take pole for his home race, and for the third time in succession, and starts favourite. He kept after Alonso and took full advantage as track conditions kept improving, but readily admitted that two-thousandths of a second was not the sort of margin Red Bull might have hoped for. Webber was very close to him in Q2, but spoiled his final Q3 lap and got bumped by Massa as a result. They know that they have a fight on their hands.

Fernando Alonso, 1m 13.793s, P2
Felipe Massa, 1m 14.290s, P3

Alonso was fastest in Q1 and Q2 and after the initial Q3 runs, and admitted that he was surprised to be only two-thousandths of a second off Vettel when it was all over as he always expects Red Bull to pull something out of the bag in that final session. If you forget Jerez 1997, this was the closest anyone has ever got to pole and then lost out. Massa said he was encouraged with third place, but that he hadn’t optimised his best lap. Ferrari nevertheless pose a very clear threat to Red Bull for the race.

Jenson Button, 1m 14.427s, P5
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 14.566s, P6

McLaren still need time to hone their blown diffuser, but Button and Hamilton said they were encouraged by their speed in qualifying, especially as their race pace is always better. Button jumped up to fifth when Hamilton was unable to improve on his second Q3 run. They should be a strong force in the race.

Robert Kubica, 1m 15.079s, P7
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 15.307s, P13

Kubica said he was reasonably happy to claim seventh on the grid, and that the team had to realise this was their best aspiration right now. He got held up by a Red Bull in Q3, but didn’t think it would have changed his actual position, just the lap time. He is still struggling with the new floor that changed the feel of his R30 at Silverstone. Petrov didn’t get things together in Q2.

Rubens Barrichello, 1m 15.109s, P8
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 15.339s, P10

Once again, Williams delivered a strong qualifying performance as both FW32s went through into Q3. Hulkenberg’s last Q2 lap bumped Schumacher. Barrichello was disappointed to pick up understeer in Q3.

Nico Rosberg, 1m 15.179s, P9
Michael Schumacher, 1m 15.026s, P11

Only 0.06s separated the two Mercedes drivers at the end of Q2, but one went through to Q3 and the other didn’t. It was Rosberg who made it, and he said he had a lot of oversteer which prevented him from getting the best out of the MGP W01. Schumacher was bumped by Hulkenberg’s late improvement, and said that while he was disappointed, what they got out of today was all that they could have expected to.

BMW Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 15.084s, P12
Pedro de la Rosa, 1m 15.550s, P15, will start P14

Kobayashi believed he should have made Q3 but said he encountered traffic on his second run in Q2 which nixed that plan. De la Rosa thought BMW Sauber had been closer to the top 10 than expected but admitted that he pushed too hard on his last Q2 run and lost time after a couple of moments.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 15.467s, P14, will start P19
Tonio Liuzzi, 1m 18.952s, P22, will start P21

Altogether it was a bad day for Force India. That started when Sutil’s car broke its gearbox in FP3, resulting in a five-place grid penalty that drops him to 19th, then Liuzzi stuffed his car into the pit wall at the end of his first real flyer in Q1, tearing off a wheel and ensuring himself a 22nd place start.

Toro Rosso
Jaime Alguersuari 1m 15.588s, P16, will start P15
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 15.974s, P17, will start P16

Alguersuari was surprised to beat Buemi, after a difficult weekend thus far acclimatising to a new track in changing conditions. The Swiss said that he hadn’t quite figured out where things went wrong in Q2, when he was unable to take advantage of the improving track.

Jarno Trulli, 1m 17.583s, P18, will start P17
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 18.300s, P19, will start P18

Trulli said he was very happy with the way his weekend has progressed and that work on getting the balance of the Lotus T127 had gone extremely well. Kovalainen, conversely, said that while his car’s balance was good the grip levels weren’t until the third lap on each type of tyre.

Timo Glock, 1m 18.343s, P20, will start P24
Lucas di Grassi, No time, P24, will start P23

Glock and Virgin were hugely disappointed to find themselves behind Lotus after yesterday’s promising performance. A gearbox problem caused Glock a great deal of frustration in FP3, and after a great job by the mechanics to rectify that he got ahead of the Lotuses but then ran into a rear brake problem that prevented him doing sufficient running in Q1. Di Grassi, meanwhile, struggled with an alternator problem in the morning and then a gearbox gremlin which prevented him from recording a timed lap in the afternoon. Both take gearbox penalties for the race, with Glock dropping to the back thanks to an additional ratio change.

Bruno Senna, 1m 18.952s, P21, will start P20
Sakon Yamamoto, 1m 19.844s, P23, will start P22

Senna said his lap was as close to perfect as possible according to individual sector times, so he was quite happy, but Yamamoto said he encountered gearshift problems in Q1.

David Tremayne