- German Grand Prix - qualifying
Vettel snatches dramatic pole in Germany
The Red Bull driver, who also finished fastest in free practice, set the quickest time of 1:13.791 right at the death and to the delight of his home fans. Felipe Massa was third quickest ahead of the second Red Bull of Mark Webber with the McLarens of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton fifth and sixth fastest respectively.
The grid is poised for a great race on Sunday with only 0.002 seconds separating the top two cars. Massa is a further half second behind but just ahead of Webber, who aborted his final Q3 attempt after he ran wide at the first corner. Undoubtedly Webber had a better lap in the car but will have to wait until race to prove it.
The McLarens weren't far behind Webber, but Button admitted after the session that he maximised the performance of the car whereas the Australian did not. So far this season both Button and Hamilton have been much more competitive in the race than in qualifying, and will hope that the car comes good over longer runs tomorrow to allow them to fight the four cars in front.
Rain stayed away for the entire session, but its threat early on prompted the front runners to take to the circuit straight away in Q1 to put in a banker lap. However, only six minutes in, the session was stopped after Tonio Liuzzi's Force India careered across the track and into the barriers on the main straight.
Liuzzi put a wheel onto the artificial grass on the final corner, throwing the back end of his car out and across the track. He was unharmed but his session was over and he will start the race from 21st barring any damage to his gearbox. As expected, the three new teams also joined Liuzzi in failing to make it out of Q1.
The big casualty of Q2 was seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, after fellow countryman Nico Hulkenberg edged the Mercedes driver out on his final lap. Hulkenberg was joined in Q2 by Robert Kubica, Rubens Barrichello and Nico Rosberg, but none of them looked like challenging the top three teams.
Behind Schumacher, Kamui Kobayashi will start in 12th after the tiniest of mistakes on his flying lap was enough for him to miss the cut for Q3. Vitaly Petrov finished the session a solid if unspectacular 13th, ahead of a disappointed Adrian Sutil (who will take a five-place grid penalty and start 19th), Pedro de la Rosa, Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi.
Also starting taking a five-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox is Timo Glock, who will start on the back row alongside his Virgin team-mate Lucas di Grassi.