Webber on pole at Nurburgring

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The Independent Online

Red Bull's Mark Webber earned pole position for Formula One's German Grand Prix ahead of Brawn GP's Rubens Barrichello today.

Webber secured his first career pole with a fastest lap of 1 minute, 32.230 seconds around a slippery Nuerburgring circuit.

Overall F1 leader Jenson Button, who has won six of eight races this season, will start third ahead of local favorite Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull, who is the only other driver with victories this year.

Webber is still seeking his first win, competing in his 132nd race.

"I'm in a fantastic position to do it," the Australian said. "A nice, boring Grand Prix would be fantastic for me."

That is unlikely with rain expected for Sunday's 60-lap race. Cool conditions with temperatures around 12 degrees Celsius (54 F) will also make it difficult for drivers to keep their cars on track with the designated Bridgestone tires lacking grip.

"It's definitely not the right tire we need for this track temperature," Webber said. "No one envisioned" it would be this cold.

The race could offer the leading cars a chance to chip into Button's overall lead. Button has 64 points, while Barrichello has 41, Vettel 39 and Webber 35.5.

"If it is a tricky race as it was a tricky qualifying, than you just have to be there at the end of the race," said Barrichello, who won at the Eifel hills track from 18th seven years ago.

Vettel said he made an error by not going full out on both of his final flying laps because of the conditions.

"Home grand prix or not, if you knew you could have been higher up and maybe in the front row of course you can't be satisfied," said Vettel, who led a Red Bull 1-2 at the preceding British GP. "I didn't have the best lap of the weekend at the time it mattered."

Car upgrades also left McLaren back in contention as defending F1 champion Lewis Hamilton starts fifth ahead of teammate Heikki Kovalainen.

"We're definitely in a position to fight for a podium," said Hamilton, who was motivated by the possibility of a wet race since the 24-year-old has always excelled in the rain. Hamilton hasn't finished in the points in the last five races.

Force India reached the final qualifying session for the first time in its 26th race, with German driver Adrian Sutil starting seventh ahead of Ferrari's Felipe Massa.

Fans could be in for a chaotic race to start the second half of the season, after Button swept aside nearly all of the competition in the first half. Two of Vettel's three career wins have come in the rain, although both of those came from pole.

"You just have to control your emotions and trust your experience because it's incredibly easy to look stupid in these conditions," Webber said. "We have to stick with the decisions we make and go out and believe in them."

The majority of cars exited the pits at the same moment to crowd the start of the second session, just as rain drizzled onto the track to leave some lap times more than 10 seconds slower than the first session.

"That session was madness," Button said. "So much could happen here with this weather."

Drivers were forced to evade one another as they spun off track, including Massa, Kazuki Nakajima of Williams and Fernando Alonso.

The Renault driver, who here two years ago, failed to get into the final qualifying session for the first time since Singapore last year, a race the two-time world champion eventually won after starting 15th.