Ferrari win the tyre compound quiz

Italian team take their first pole position in two years as Hamilton and Button fail to get heat in Pirellis

silverstone

The weather wouldn't let go as the 2011 winner, Fernando Alonso, scraped to an on-the-limit pole for the British GP in a disrupted qualifying session that took more than two hours to complete yesterday. The first session, Q1, was completed and saw the dramatic decline of British hope Jenson Button, who was only 18th fastest.

Then, with six minutes of Q2 remaining, the race director, Charlie Whiting, red-flagged the session as conditions became unsafe after yet another downpour. It took until three o'clock before they improved to complete that session, and then to stage the all-important Q3 which decides the top 10 grid positions.

Lewis Hamilton had been fastest eventually in Q2, but was unable to play a significant role as the final cards were dealt.

The session was all about choosing the right tyres – Pirelli's intermediate – then staying out on track to take advantage as conditions improved lap by lap. First Pastor Maldonado was fastest for Williams, then Felipe Massa for Ferrari and Michael Schumacher for Mercedes, before Alonso became the first to go fastest on the intermediates. Then it was Massa again, similarly shod, before Alonso went fastest again with three minutes left. The 2010 winner, Mark Webber, was on top form for Red Bull, however, and snatched the initiative with 1min 51.793sec before Alonso settled the issue at 1:51.746.

Behind them, Schumacher improved to 1:52.020 for third ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the second Red Bull on 1:52.199. Massa was fifth with 1:53.065, and late improvements from Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen and Maldonado left Hamilton a disappointed eighth.

"It was the same conditions for everyone," Alonso said. "You have to be calm in difficult moments, and for a while in Q2 we were positions 15 and 16, Felipe and me. But we got through to Q3. Then it was a difficult choice, the full wet tyres or the intermediates, but we saw the way to go and were able to calm down a bit and put a lap together. It was not easy, there was a mistake here and there because you never knew what was around the next corner, but I'm happy with pole position for Ferrari after we wait nearly two years."

There was speculation the Spaniard might be penalised after setting his fastest Q2 time when Romain Grosjean's stricken Lotus brought yellow caution flags out at Vale, but the sector times proved that he had not improved on his previous best time. "I didn't set a green sector on that lap," Alonso explained. "I backed off in the area that they were taking the car away."

Webber was philosophical after missing out by 500ths of a second. "It was a tight session; you don't know how you are going overall so you just focus on putting a lap together," the Australian said. "It was difficult to get comfortable in the conditions, but ultimately we got a pretty good lap together so I'm happy."

Hamilton and Button weren't. Even by the standards of the day their McLarens lacked grip. "I don't really know what happened in Q3," Hamilton said. "The full wets had been working really well but, as the track gradually became less wet, I switched to the intermediates and struggled to get temperature into them. I just couldn't switch them on and had very little grip. We'll have to try to analyse the problem overnight and hopefully fix it for tomorrow. We couldn't get on the front row, but we can still push tomorrow.

"Although eighth position isn't the best place from which to be starting, it's going to be a tough race and we're not that far away." Button had the same problem, but in Q1.

"I couldn't get heat into the front tyres," he said. "The one positive is that everyone else is going around for two more sessions on their tyres and it's going to rain tomorrow. It's going to be very difficult for everyone, but I'll have better tyres. I'd rather have put on a much better show for the fans on Saturday but it's the story of my year so I'm not too upset. I know I can drive a car in the wet."

"I want to give a shout-out to the fans," Hamilton said. "They've been fantastic: very patient and so supportive. The cheers from the grandstands were spectacular."

Webber felt for the fans on Friday and could sympathise with their frustration when many teams restricted their running time in practice.

"It's horrible," said Webber. "They don't always understand why we don't run, especially when the conditions are going to be pretty similar over the weekend. Most of us had our hands tied with the weather.

"We wanted to get the practice in so we could get on top of the conditions, but unfortunately there was no point being top of the pops then, doing loads of mileage and wearing the tyres out, because we don't get any points in practice."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Amazon's drones were unveiled last year.
business
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Life and Style
Worth shelling out for: Atlantic lobsters are especially meaty
food + drink
News
i100
Sport
Gareth Bale
footballPaul Scholes on how Real Madrid's Welsh winger would be a perfect fit at Old Trafford if he leaves Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Lily James in ‘Cinderella’
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss