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Sat, 7 July, 2012Alonso beats Webber to sodden Silverstone pole

  • Fernando Alonso (Ferrari F2012). 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix, Rd 2, Practice day. Sepang, Malaysia. Friday 23 March 2012. © Ferrari.
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Fernando Alonso made the best of inclement Silverstone weather to claim his first pole position in almost two years ahead of tomorrow's British Grand Prix. The Spaniard overhauled Mark Webber's benchmark at the death in Q3, with the Australian subsequently failing to improve to hand pole to the double world champion.

The hour-long session was disrupted during Q2 when a torrential downpour made for undriveable conditions on-track, requiring a 60-minute delay before conditions improved and the action resumed. The stoppage ultimately allowed Alonso to progress safely to Q3, having made an incorrect tyre choice at the beginning of Q2, before then stamping his authority on proceedings soon after.

His laptime of 1m51.746s beat Webber's best by less than half a tenth, with the Australian unable to improve on his 1m51.793s on his final lap completed just seconds after Alonso's. It rubberstamped Alonso and Ferrari's first pole since the 2010 Singapore Grand Prix, a gap of over 20 months.

A last-gasp effort by Michael Schumacher netted the Mercedes driver third place, after having just one lap at the end of the session to post his time, having mistakenly started on full wet tyres in Q3. His time of 1m52.020s was almost three tenths off the pace, but still good enough to beat reigning champion Sebastian Vettel to third (1m52.199s).

Alonso's team-mate Felipe Massa secured his best grid position of the year in fifth (1m53.065s), followed by Kimi Räikkönen (1m53.290s), Pastor Maldonado (1m53.539s), Lewis Hamilton (1m53.543s) and Nico Hülkenberg (1m54.382s). Romain Grosjean finished tenth after spinning into the gravel at the end of Q2 having already secured his place in the top ten shoot-out.

Paul di Resta was the fastest driver to take the plunge from Q2, after posting a time of 1m57.009s for 11th place. He was followed by Kamui Kobayashi (1m57.071s), Nico Rosberg (1m57.108s), Daniel Ricciardo (1m57.132s), Bruno Senna (1m57.426s), Jean-Eric Vergne (1m57.719s) and Sergio Pérez (1m57.895s).

Jenson Button was the surprise scalp from the Q1 session after failing to get his tyres to work on the McLaren. His fastest time was a 1m48.044s, more than 1.7 seconds slower than the pace at the front of the field. He was followd by the usual suspects, with both Caterhams beating Marussia's Timo Glock, both HRTs and the final Marussia of Charles Pic.

A total of four grid penalties mean a slightly jumbled order from that of qualifying, with five-place penalties for Hülkenberg and Pic because of gearbox chances, a ten-place grid penalty for Vergne carried over from Valencia and a similar five-place penalty for Kobayashi.

Pic will be allowed to race tomorrow, despite failing to lap within 107% of the fastest Q1 time.

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