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Qualifying analysis - Vettel flounders as rivals fight back 23 Jul 2011

Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing celebrates his pole position in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Saturday, 23 July 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Saturday, 23 July 2011 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Saturday, 23 July 2011 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1 VJM04.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Saturday, 23 July 2011 Dark clouds over the circuit.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Saturday, 23 July 2011 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari 150 Italia. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Saturday, 23 July 2011 Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR6.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Saturday, 23 July 2011 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C30.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Saturday, 23 July 2011 Timo Glock (GER) Virgin Racing MVR-02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Saturday, 23 July 2011 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) HRT Formula 1 Team HRT F111. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Saturday, 23 July 2011

An in-form Mark Webber and a near-perfect Red Bull proved to be the most successful combination around the Nurburgring on Saturday. Almost as impressive, however, was Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren. After playing down his chances on Friday, Hamilton came within a tenth of claiming his first pole position of the year and pushed championship leader Sebastian Vettel down to third on the grid. We take a team-by-team look at qualifying…

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 30.079s, P1
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 30.216s, P3

No worries for Webber, who said he was really pleased with a very clean and smooth lap, while Vettel said he was much happier with the feel he got from his RB7 than he had been on Friday after various set-up changes. He was off the front row for the first time in 15 races, but said he was happy to be starting on the clean side of the grid.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 30.134s, P2
Jenson Button, 1m 31.288s, P7

Upgrades, and the reversion to the off-throttle blown diffuser had transformed the McLaren MP4-26 and Hamilton raved about its performance on light fuel and over a longer distance. He said his qualifying lap was the best of his year, and strongly fancies his race chances. Button, by contrast, said he simply couldn’t find any grip, even after a front-wing change lessened some oversteer.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 30.442s, P4
Felipe Massa, 1m 30.910s, P5

It was a setback for Ferrari to see McLaren back on form after Silverstone, but Alonso said it was nothing unexpected after Friday’s running. Massa said exactly the opposite! And that he’d have been happier if it had been 24 degrees Celsius instead of 14 degree ambient temperature.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, 1m 31.263s, P6
Michael Schumacher, 1m 32.482s, P10

Rosberg was happy with P6, but Schumacher found his car sliding around far too much. He’d thought a big gap to his team mate in FP3 was down to a KERS problem, but later realised that it was more a case of set-up shortcomings.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 32.010s, P8
Paul di Resta, 1m 32.560s, P12

Sutil felt that his laps in Q2 and Q3 were near-perfect and was happy with the balance of his VJM04; Di Resta felt he’d gone backwards on set-up changes as he was struggling for grip throughout.

Renault
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 32.187s, P9
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 32.215s, P11

Renault opted for the forward-facing exhausts on both cars as the rearward-facing system isn’t yet competitive with it. Petrov bounced into Q3 late in Q2 and went on to qualify ninth, giving the team the relief of being back in the top 10, while Heidfeld missed out by only three-hundredths of a second. The mood here is buoyant.

Williams
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 32.635s, P13
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 33.043s, P14

Williams ran their two FW33s in differing specifications, with Barrichello using the new diffuser and front wing but not KERS, in order to gain more data for comparison. Neither car was fast enough.

Sauber
Sergio Perez, 1m 33.176s, P15
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 33.786s, P18

Sauber continued to struggle for grip. Perez thought he got the best from his C30, while Kobayashi complained of traffic on his best lap in Q1.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 33.546s, P16
Jaime Alguersuari, 1m 33.698s, P17

Buemi was pleased with his performance given the track time he lost to a misfire on Friday and the fact that he ran a wet set-up in expectation of rain tomorrow. Alguersuari likewise thinks he has a good set-up for the race.

Lotus
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 35.599s, P19
Karun Chandhok, 1m 36.422s, P21

Kovalainen said he was reasonably happy but that he hadn’t been able to get the front tyres working fully. Chandhok had adventures in the morning but was satisfied to have achieved his goal of getting within a second of the Finn.

Virgin
Timo Glock, 1m 36.400s, P20
Jerome D'Ambrosio, 1m 36.641s, P22

Glock said his MVR-02 wasn’t easy to drive as it was too sensitive to the wind as it had been at Silverstone. Without oversteer he felt he could have been half a second faster. D’Ambrosio said he hadn’t quite got the best from his car.

HRT
Tonio Liuzzi, 1m 37.011s, P23 (will start 24th)
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 37.036s, P24 (will start 23rd)

Liuzzi said his car had changed for the worst since Friday because of the improved weather conditions, but Ricciardo was very happy with set-up changes which brought him much closer to his team mate. They were only fractions of a second apart, but Liuzzi will start 24th because of the penalty for a gearbox change on Friday.

Pirelli
The option (soft) tyre seems to be the preferred compound this weekend, although the tyre manufacturer is pleased with the durability of both specs. So if the weather holds, they expect some teams could opt for a one-stop strategy.

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