German GP 2011: qualifying as it happened

12.40pm Hello and welcome to forumula1.com’s live coverage of the qualifying session for tomorrow’s German Grand Prix.

The Nurburgring plays host to today’s action, and as ever here, there is a distinct possibility of precipitation and everything that it connotes in this sport.

Lewis Hamilton has already said that he does not believe McLaren have the pace to challenge for pole position, but home hero Sebastian Vettel surely does. But rain could well change all that.

The track is notoriously slippery around here and yesterday’s practice saw a number of drivers off-road. Karun Chandhok was one of those men, the replacement for Jarno Trulli having a fairly major off, although nothing was damaged on his Lotus.

12.55pm And we are not long away from the start of Q1 now. “No rain expected for Q1,” HRT tell Daniel Ricciardo in his second F1 outing. He’d be very lucky to see any water today, then, you fear.

“Fernando Alonso has the best chance to spoil the Red Bull party,” says Martin Brundle on the BBC. He’s talking, of course, about the man who won last time out in Britain and on whom you’d put money if the Red Bulls fall foul of conditions.

1pm And there we are, the two Virgins kicking off the action for today. Vitantonio Liuzzi is also on track.

The chicane at the end of the lap has a massive get-out-of-jail free card here. We may well see drivers hopping through the short cut; maybe something to watch out for during the race and the consequent penalties that may follow.

1.02pm Glock sets a 1m38.486, a time which betters d’Ambrosio’s effort but will probably be a good six or seven seconds off the pole time.

1.04pm We now have a number of cars on track, Schumacher the quickest on a 1m35.368. He did get a bit sideways into the chicane as well, so it may not be very representative.

1.06pm Webber sets a 1m34.084. Jaime Alguersuari sits second currently. But Lewis Hamilton has now bettered the Australian, with a 1m32.934.

1.08pm The two Saubers are yet to emerge from the pits, as is Vitaly Petrov. Hamilton’s time is still the best set today as of yet, from Vettel, Alonso, Button and Webber.

1.10pm And now Alonso goes quickest, two hundredths of a second faster than Hamilton. We have eight minutes remaining in this session and the drop zone looks like this: d’Ambrosio, Liuzzi, Chandhok, Ricciardo, Kobayashi, Perez and Petrov.

1.11pm Sergio Perez is now out on track. His first sector time is not bad, around a second off the fastest. Kamui Kobayashi has now joined his team mate.

1.13pm Perez slots into sixth, with Kobayashi eighth.

1.14pm With four minutes to go in Q1, the drop zone goes like this: Kovalainen, Barrichello, Glock, d’Ambrosio, Liuzzi, Chandhok, Ricciardo.

1.15pm Are there any big names in danger, I hear you ask? Rosberg is 15th at the moment, which could be an issue.

1.17pm Massa goes fastest and it is getting a bit more frantic now with less than two minutes left. Rosberg and di Resta are fighting for their lives now…and there is a car off and a yellow flag. But it is Kovalainen and he’s back on.

1.18pm With a minute to go it is Barrichello on the bubble with Kobayashi also in difficulties. The two Toro Rossos are also battling. Kobayashi has pitted! What? Why? He has effectively surrendered.

1.20pm So Kobayashi is the man to go from the midfield teams. The fight for positions at the back continues and the two Virgins are at it hammer-and-tongs…Kovalainen sits 19th, Glock is 20th, Chandhok 21st, d’Ambrosio 22nd and Liuzzi and Ricciardo 23rd and 24th with only two hundredths of a second between them.

Liuzzi will start 24th, though, because he has had a gearbox change.

Not a great outing for returning Indian Karun Chandhok, out-qualified by both his team mate and a Virgin. He will need to do better than that in future. Glock, the man in that Virgin, has done a good job in front of his home crowd. Despite this, he is not happy about the car, as he tells the team and the world over the radio.

It is also a little difficult to understand why Kobayashi gave up like that – all will surely become clear later though.

1.25pm And Q2 is under way, with Perez the first out in the sole remaining Sauber.

1.27pm A multitude of cars are now on track, with the rain looking like it will hold off at least for the next fifteen minutes or so. Felipe Massa is on soft tyres and looking to avoid being beaten in qualifying by Fernando Alonso again.

1.29pm Massa goes fastest, unsurprisingly as he is the first of the significant teams on track. His time is a 1m31.792.

1.30pm Poor Felipe. Alonso trots out and betters the Brazilian’s time, casually, by six tenths of a second.

1.31pm Hamilton sets a 1m30.998. This is getting rapid now. That time is quite respectable, really. Vettel has gone and done a 1m31.017 and slots into second.

1.32pm With seven minutes left in Q2 the drop zone includes Perez, Barrichello, di Resta, Heidfeld, the two Toro Rossos and Pastor Maldonado.

1.34pm Michael Schumacher is having real issues in the last few corners. He is sawing the wheel as he wrestles the Mercedes around the Nurburgring. Hamilton is still fastest with that time.

1.35pm Five minutes to go and Alguersuari has set a time that is only good enough for 15th. Buemi’s lap is not looking much better…no, he’s 14th. Not a stellar weekend for the Red Bull B-team at the moment.

1.37pm Michael Schumacher is tenth and in danger along with the two Renaults in eighth and ninth…with Massa in sixth and Rosberg in seventh also not comfortable. Three minutes to go and Maldonado puts himself ninth at the moment. Schumacher is now out of the top ten.

1.38pm The end of the session flurry begins…Barrichello cannot improve from 13th. Sutil and di Resta are not in the top ten either right now…but the Scot sets a time which is good enough for ninth! It won’t last but that was a good effort!

Schumacher is battling Adrian Sutil and Maldonado…Schumacher goes eighth! Thirty seconds left…Sutil is out of the last corner and is seventh, what a lap! Petrov may be able to spoil a few days now as well…into the chicane and out of it, round the last corner…and the Russian goes eighth! A great effort. And Rosberg sets the fifth fastest time over the line, from nowhere.

Rubens Barrichello cannot improve, so out go Heidfeld, di Resta, Maldonado, Barrichello, Perez, Buemi and Alguersuari, in that order.

Great work from Petrov and Sutil there to scrape themselves into the top ten, with Schumacher surviving by the skin of his teeth. The top ten shootout comprises then of the two McLarens, the two Red Bulls, the two Ferraris, the two Mercedes and Petrov and Sutil.

“They told me to get within a second [of Kovalainen] and you should be proud of that,” says Karun Chandhok of his performance in Q1. Things have changed since when he was last in an F1 car last year, not least the Pirelli tyres. He’ll need to start beating Kovalainen soon if he is to justify his having ousted Trulli.

And Q3 begins, with it looking as though Hamilton’s prediction that he could not challenge for pole may be wide of the mark. Ten minutes of exciting action to come.

1.50pm Fernando Alonso first out, a statement of intent perhaps. He is reportedly determined to repeat his resurrection act of last year and fight for the world championship. His target Vettel is sitting in the garage meanwhile, eyes closed, the epitome of relaxed confidence.

1.52pm Alonso is on his hot lap now. Hamilton, following, is quicker than him than the first sector though!

1.53pm Alonso’s time is a 1m30.866. Quick. Hamilton responds with a 1m30.725! Good stuff from the Englishman. Webber is faster by four tenths in the second sector! He will surely trash Hamilton’s time if he doesn’t mess up the last sector.

1.54pm And Webber is over the line – it’s a 1m30.251! That is seriously fast. Vettel is following…and he is a tenth down on Webber, and slots into second.

1.56pm So with a lull in proceedings it’s Webber from Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, Massa, Button and Petrov, with the two Mercs yet to go out.

1.57pm With just over two minutes to go the top five are all sat in the garage…no, I tell a lie, Alonso is out on track, as is Hamilton now, and Webber leaves the pits as I type.

1.58pm They are now all on track with a finale to come. One last effort.

1.59pm A minute to go. Alonso is the first to start his last flying lap, with Nico Rosberg following suit. Alonso is looking good, but Hamilton’s first sector is very quick indeed! Alonso stays third over the line! Webber is even quicker and reaffirms his place at the top! That looks like pole…but here comes Lewis Hamilton through the last sector…And Hamilton goes second!!! Vettel still to respond…He cannot beat Hamilton and is third!

2.01pm And there we have it. A great time from Webber but Hamilton was on fire throughout that session…”That was a wicked lap,” he says over the team radio. “An extraordinary lap,” concurs David Coulthard. It is a mere 0.05 off pole.

2.03pm The top ten is therefore Webber, Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso, Massa, Rosberg, Button, Sutil, Petrov and Schumacher.

2.05pm Well, what a finale that really was. A great show of dominance from Webber with Hamilton producing a lap which quite simply was not in the car. Vettel will be dangerous from third and Alonso can profit if conditions are inclement.

That’s all from me, thanks for following and enjoy the race tomorrow.

Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1n30.079s
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1n30.134s + 0.055
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1n30.216s + 0.137
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1n30.442s + 0.363
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1n30.910s + 0.831
6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1n31.263s + 1.184
7. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1n31.288s + 1.209
8. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1n32.010s + 1.931
9. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1n32.187s + 2.108
10. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1n32.482s + 2.403
Q2 cut-off time: 1m33.180s Gap **
11. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m32.2152 + 1.217
12. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m32.5602 + 1.562
13. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m32.6352 + 1.637
14. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m33.0432 + 2.045
15. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m33.1762 + 2.178
16. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m33.5462 + 2.548
17. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m33.6982 + 2.700
Q1 cut-off time: 1m33.664s Gap *
18. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m33.786s + 1.960
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m35.599s + 3.773
20. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m36.400s + 4.574
21. Karun Chandhok Lotus-Renault 1m36.422s + 4.596
22. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m36.641s + 4.815
23. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m37.011s + 5.185
24. Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1m37.036s + 5.210

107% time: 1m38.253s
* Gap to quickest in Q1
** Gap to quickest in Q2

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