Qualifying analysis - Vettel flounders as rivals fight back 23 Jul 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
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.
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 couldnt find any grip, even after a front-wing change lessened some oversteer.
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 Fridays running. Massa said exactly the opposite! And that hed have been happier if it had been 24 degrees Celsius instead of 14 degree ambient temperature.
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. Hed 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.
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 hed gone backwards on set-up changes as he was struggling for grip throughout.
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 isnt 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.
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.
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.
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.
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 35.599s, P19
Karun Chandhok, 1m 36.422s, P21
Kovalainen said he was reasonably happy but that he hadnt 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.
Timo Glock, 1m 36.400s, P20
Jerome D'Ambrosio, 1m 36.641s, P22
Glock said his MVR-02 wasnt 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. DAmbrosio said he hadnt quite got the best from his car.
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.
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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