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Page last updated at 13:38 GMT, Saturday, 11 July 2009 14:38 UK

German GP qualifying as it happened


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By Caroline Cheese

1413: There we are then. Time for me to let my smoking fingers cool off. Time for you to keep following the cricket and the Tour de France. See you tomorrow for race day. If today's anything to go by, it should be a belter. Weather, do your worst.

Home hope Seb Vettel after qualifying fourth: "I'm not frustrated, but it was possible to go better. The last lap I had wasn't magnificent so... I blame myself, not the car."

Third-placed Jenson Button: "That session was madness but it was good fun. It's great for us to be in the top three. Tomorrow is going to be an interesting one. Weather looks similar to today so it's a little bit of luck, but also looking at what everyone else is doing and trying to make the best out of the situation."

Pole position man Mark Webber: "It was very, very chaotic so to deliver a time when it counted was very important to me."

Lewis Hamilton: "We won't take it for granted but we're going to enjoy it. The guys have worked so hard and it's so much better. It's a great result for us. I think it's going to rain tomorrow - I would just really like to get the points for the team."

BBC pundit Eddie Jordan: "I think Mark has gained a huge amount of confidence over the last couple of races and this is the culmination of it. From very first moment yesterday, he's been dominant, but it was still a mammoth task today in these conditions."

1403: Webber leads from the two Brawns of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button, with Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel only fourth. Lewis Hamilton will start fifth alongside McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen. Sutil, Massa, Raikkonen and Piquet complete the top 10.

1402: "Have we got it? Have we got it?" says a surprisingly calm Mark Webber over the radio. "Yeah, thank you guys, brilliant, awesome." That's the Aussie's first ever pole as he seeks his first ever race win. A stunning effort by Webber.


1359: Lewis Hamilton goes top with a 1:32.616... and Jenson Button is second, but it's not over. The Red Bulls are on the charge.

1358: Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are yet to post a quick lap... Button has now, but good enough only for ninth. Less than two minutes remaining and all 10 cars are on the track building up to one last flying lap.

1356: Barrichello, Vettel, Webber one-two-three, with Adrian Sutil flying high in fifth.

1353: Rubens Barrichello and Sebastian Vettel are out. Jenson Button comes back into the pits without putting a lap on the board. Barrichello does though: 1:32.797.

1352: Jenson Button is still on his own out there...

1350: The clock is ticking in Q3, but the cars are biding their time as they wait for the track to dry a little. Jenson Button is the first man onto the track now...

BBC Sport's David Coulthard: "It's dry now. We've got to go with the Red Bulls for the front row."

1347: There'll be a party in Brazil with that one-two. Unbelievable qualifying session.

1344: That means Nelson Piquet Jr out-qualifies Alonso for the first time. He is second quickest ahead of Adrian Sutil, who takes Force India into Q3 for the first time. Rubens Barrichello timed his run to perfection to go quickest of all, while the Ferraris only just crept into the top 10.

1343: Oh my days. That was heart-stopping. Fernando Alonso doesn't qualify for Q3, and he is joined in the bottom five by Nick Heidfeld, Kazuki Nakajima, Jarno Trulli and Nico Rosberg. One fuming Spaniard climbs out of his Renault.

1342: Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton leave it OH SO LATE. They pop up in fifth and sixth as the clock ticks down to zero. Fernando Alonso is in danger, but he's got one lap remaining.

1340: Fernando Alonso drops it on the chicane but he stays out of the gravel... this is a thriller. Lewis Hamilton dicing with danger in 10th as the track becomes more and more greasy.

1338: Unbelievable. Rubinho does a 1:34.469, about four seconds quicker than Mark Webber in second! What's this? Kazuki Nakajima and Seb Vettel collide in the pits... IT'S ALL GOING OFF. Jenson Button is in serious danger of missing Q3.

1337: Hang on though. Rubens Barrichello has switched the dry tyres before anyone else - and he's flying.

1335: We needn't worry about Mark Webber. He's just stuck a 1:38.038 on the board, more than one and a half seconds quicker than team-mate Seb Vettel in second. The Brawns are really struggling and we could be in for a shock here.

1333: Lewis Hamilton loves the rain and he's just posted a 1:42.325. Adrian Sutil is also a fan of the wet and he's now second in the Force India.

1331: Mark Webber stays out for an extra lap on the super-softs, and that could lose him crucial time. The Aussie is back for the intermediates now - but his rivals are already back out and Webber will have to cope with a wetter track when he returns.

1329: Wacky races now. Kazuka Nakajima slides off, Lewis Hamilton brushes the kerb and now Felipe Massa is on the grass. It's wetter than they thought and it's now a mad dash back to the pits for intermediate tyres.

1328: Q2 under way and all the cars are out. Ted Kravitz reports that the rain is set to last for five minutes and the teams will try to get as much heat into the tyres as possible.

1326: Weather forecasts are being studied in great detail as the teams try to decide when best to put the hot laps in. "The best way to judge it," reckons David Coulthard, "is to put your head outside and see if it gets wet."

1322: Up at the top, Mark Webber is sitting pretty ahead of Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. Lewis Hamilton, Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button complete the top six.

1320: Q1 done and we lose: Robert Kubica, Sebastien Buemi, Giancarlo Fisichella, Timo Glock and Sebastien Bourdais. If this is Bourdais' last GP, what a miserable way to start it - from the back of the grid and three places behind his Toro Rosso team-mate.

1319: Seconds remaining and the track is wet enough that it is going to take a momentous effort to get out of the bottom five.

1318: The top 10 are all back in the pits as the rain continues to fall. Timo Glock still out there trying to drag himself up from 19th.

1315: Jenson Button goes quickest of all in the first sector but he only ends up sixth fastest overall. Less than four minutes to go and the men in bother are: Kubica, Buemi, Fisi, Glock, Bourdais.

1314: And here comes the rain. Few spots on some of the cameras, reports Martin Brundle. Jenson Button on a flier...

1312: Mark Webber posts a 1:31.257 to go top, and it's a Red Bull one-two followed by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. But now Fernando Alonso goes second - despite being held up a touch by Timo Glock.

1311: Eight minutes remaining and the bottom five are: Fisi, Glock, Trulli, Kubica, Bourdais.

BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "I'm just looking at Red Bull's garage... I don't know if they were trying to get through Q1 on the hard tyres, but if they were, it hasn't worked."

1307: Jenson Button appears in second, which will be a boost for Brawn. But he's just being pushed into third as Sebastian Vettel goes top with a 1:31.430. This is frantic stuff. A mad dash to post quick times in case the rain arrives.

1305: "All 20 cars are out," says Martin Brundle. "They are nervous about the rain." Lewis Hamilton sticks a 1:31.686 on the board and he leads from Fernando Alonso and Rubens Barrichello. Hamilton is looking to go quicker too.

BBC Sport's pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie: "It will be another strong weekend for the Red Bulls, personally I think it will great to see Mark Webber take pole; although it would be a great story if Sebastian Vettel could become the first German - not called Schumacher - to line up at the front of the grid. Nico Rosberg told me that he thinks Williams are the third best team at the moment but if this is true he really needs to start showing it in qualifying as well as the race. He finished fifth in Britain and Turkey but he tends to qualify lower than that."

1259: Time for the junk food chat to stop. Qualifying is under way, and as Michael Schumacher marches into the Ferrari garage, his heir apparent Sebastian Vettel is among the first to emerge from the pits. Symmetry.

Text in your views on 81111
From Mark Lawson, Kent, via text on 81111: "Re 1231: There's a cafe in Norbury, South London which is home to the 'As seen on TV Norbur-ger'. I've never seen it on TV though."

Brawn on McLaren's improvement: "McLaren's times are still impressive even if they're not running fuel."

Brawn boss Ross Brawn: "A difficult weekend for us - we're struggling with tyre temperatures again. That means it's quite challenging to get the set-up of the car sorted. We're not having a great weekend."

Get involved on 606
From austinroverchap on 606: "Re 1231: Ask for a 'Currywurst mit Pommes' and enjoy the racing! If you ask for a Nürnberger Wurst, you'll get half a dozen little sausages with sourkraut and fresh horseradish. Another way to bring tears to your eyes during qualifying if the quality of Hamilton's driving doesn't help."

Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug: "Top three is a little optimistic for qualifying. We should be in a position to get into Q3 though."

1243: Interesting bit of VT (clever telly word for... a bit of telly) on BBC1 about the 1934 Mercedes Silver Arrow, which is a beautiful beast. Lewis Hamilton gave it a spin - thankfully after discovering that the brake is on the right and doesn't really work.

1237: Apparently, Sarah Holt is actually trying to find out if they sell Nurburg-ers. We shall see. Meanwhile, the BBC's F1 Mole has got bad news for Sebastien Bourdais, who is rumoured to be on his way out of Toro Rosso after this race. Spain's Jaime Alguersuari is the man tipped to replace him.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt at the Nurburgring: "I had made it my mission to get out among the fans just before qualifying but the paddock, which operates in splendid isolation at the best of times, is a fair trek to the fans in the grandstands, and that's why it's difficult to get a sense of atmosphere here. After running into a large Aufwiedersehen sign I realised I had gone off track so I will resume the hunt tomorrow, promise. In more exciting news, I did bump into Bernie Ecclestone wearing a beige sports jacket to keep out the cold. Must do better, right?"

1234: Grrrr... Mark Webber talking to Ricky Ponting on the telly. Grrrr...
Ashes live - England v Australia

1231: I know this is wrong, but curried sausage sounds absolutely sensational. Probably the sort of thing you'd pay for later though. I'd like to know if they sell Nurburg-ers. BBC Sport's Sarah Holt has failed me so far.

Text in your views on 81111
From Jon via text on 81111: "At Nurburgring - Hamilton's looking good and the curried sausage is being washed down with German lager. Let's go racing!"

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson at the Nurburgring: "German TV presenter Kai Ebel has a well-deserved reputation as the most, er, flamboyant dresser in F1, but he has excelled himself for his home grand prix today. He's wearing a pair of tight purple jeans and bright, glossy, purple pointed shoes, paired with a (different shade of) purple shirt, a patterned tie that doesn't come remotely close to matching, and what I think was a plain blue sports jacket. Fantastic effort. I'll try to get Sarah to take a picture of him later."

1224: I imagine that Finnish saying (see below) sounds a lot more poetic in its original language. Anyway, Ari Vatanen seems like a nice bloke. I liked him.

Vatanen on the FIA/Fota row: "If F1 breaks away, that's the end of FIA as we know it, it's distracting to all of us. We have to remain together and we can only do that if everyone is smiling. As we say in Finland: it's better to reconcile and have a modest agreement instead of a big war."

FIA presidential candidate Ari Vatanen speaking on BBC1: "I represent common sense, simply. Any boat needs a new captain and I think it's time for a change. People need a new start."

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt at the Nurburgring: "I have some potential bad news for female Formula 1 fans - David Coulthard arrived at BBC HQ with a sore throat and so his famous Scottish burr could be running at lower revs throughout BBC One's qualifying broadcast. He has been sucking on throat sweets and using eye drops in a bid to get race fit. So fingers crossed people."

1214: TV coverage is up and running, and those BBC boys look decidedly cold. No sunglasses required for David Coulthard today.

1208: Now then, it turns out it's not actually raining in Cardiff - yet - as promised earlier. But England are being roundly walloped at the cricket so I'm still saying stick with me. Could be an interesting qualifying session - Lewis Hamilton might even stay involved for more than 20 minutes.

Get involved on 606
From Wilkopops on 606: "Glad to see Hamilton's found a bit of pace this weekend, hope he can carry it into Q3."

1200: Ooh, hello, are we back on? During the interval, I have been thoroughly entertained by a BBC Sport colleague singing/rapping Regulate by Warren G and Nate Dogg. Don't know where it came from, but it was a magical moment.

1104: Some of those cars (Red Bull, Brawn) will have used that practice session to get ready for the top-10 shoot-out in qualifying, some will just have been hoping to find enough pace to get out of first qualifying. The picture will become a whole lot clearer from 1300 BST when qualifying begins. I'll return here at 1200 BST, with TV coverage kicking off at 1210. See you in a bit.

1101: No one can beat Lewis Hamilton... in this practice session anyway. The Brit's 1:31.121 has him sitting pretty. Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Seb Vettel, Mark Webber and Kimi Raikkonen make up the top six. Jenson Button down in 11th, Rubens Barrichello 14th.

1100: The pack is shuffled with everyone on super-soft tyres. Still Lewis Hamilton quickest, but he is now followed by Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen. Chequered flag is out.

1056: Rubens Barrichello has the super-softs on his Brawn, but he is still 1.003 off the pace in ninth.

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson at the Nurburgring: "Re 1042: There will be a camera in the car, apparently, although it won't be attached to my head - it's too large for that (the camera, not my head). Will that do?"

1052: BMW have told BBC pit-lane reporter Holly Samos that the reason their drivers are 19th and 20th is because their car is "just slow". Seems reasonable. No such problems for Kimi Raikkonen who pops up second quickest with a 1:31.615, but Lewis Hamilton still holding on to top spot. Jenson Button climbs up to fifth.

1049: With about 10 minutes remaining, Lewis Hamilton has brought his time down to 1:31.252 on the super-softs, extending his lead over Nico Rosberg to 0.569. Those Brawns still seem to be struggling with getting heat in their tyres, the same problem they had at Silverstone. Jenson Button is ninth, Rubens Barrichello 16th.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt at the Nurburgring: "The Germans are enthusiastic about their motorsport and there could be further excitement if they get a glimpse of some chap called Michael Schumacher, who has won the German GP four times. The seven-time world champion will arrive at the Nurburgring later today. If your name's Schumacher there's no escaping the spotlight but I wouldn't want to be Mario Theissen either. Let's just say, there are A LOT of look-a-likes for the moustachioed BMW Sauber boss…"

1044: Nico Rosberg, on the super-softs, is doing his best to topple Lewis Hamilton but his best isn't good enough at the moment. Sebastian Vettel pops up in ninth behind Jenson Button.

1042: But I'm not letting Andrew Benson off the hook. That rollercoaster is meant to be opening today. No more excuses. (Although if the ride with Ant Davidson features a helmet-cam in some way, I suppose that might do.)

1038: Some would argue I should focus on the track instead of brilliant feature ideas. They are right. Lewis Hamilton is still topping the times under cloudy skies, with Felipe Massa and Adrian Su-Su-Sutil following. Rubens Barrichello is trailing around in 16th, with Seb Vettel just ahead of him. Work to be done there.

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson at the Nurburgring: "There was talk among my BBC colleagues this morning about going on the rollercoaster, but I'm told it's not yet open. (There has been some controversy in Germany about the cost of these latest developments to the Nurburgring, and the fact that they are not finished, I'm told). I have been promised a ride around the track with Anthony Davidson in an AMG Mercedes later, though."

1033: Turns out David Coulthard has never sneezed while driving either. I'm going to challenge BBC Sport's Sarah Holt to ask every driver she can get her hands on whether they've ever sneezed while driving. Then we'll have Andrew Benson's ride on the Nurburgring rollercoaster - with helmet camera. I'm an ideas factory today.

1031: Simon in Alvechurch reminds us that Mark Webber vomited while driving at Fuji a couple of years ago. I'm not sure any of us needed reminding of that to be honest. Hamilton still quickest, Webber second, Rosberg third.

1030: Hurray! Antony Davidson has answered the text question (see 1013). "I've never done it," says Ant. "But you're going to be in deep trouble if you do. That's a good text actually. It's made me think." Well done people.

1026: I want to know when Andrew Benson's blog on his trip on the Nurburgring rollercoaster is coming. It's only a matter of time I reckon. Apparently, it's shut for safety reasons, but I'm sure that won't stop him. Lewis Hamilton now top.

1022: Lewis Hamilton locking up, as is pretty much everyone out there. Jenson Button tops the timesheets now, but Adrian Sutil is hot on his heels. And now Nico Rosberg takes a turn at the top.

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson at the Nurburgring: "I know you'll be thrilled by this news, Caroline, but there have been further developments in F1's political saga. I will publish a blog on it shortly, but suffice it to say for now that time really does seem to be running out for Max Mosley as FIA president."

1017: Boom! Adrian Sutil is top of the pops. If Force India don't win their first points this weekend, I shall cry. Nick Heidfeld, Timo Glock and Jenson Button among those trailing in Sutil's magnificent wake.

1013: Lots of texts coming in for the BBC commentary team, my favourite of which is: "Ant (Davidson), have you ever sneezed while driving an F1 car?" Hope that gets read out. Cars back out on the track and Felipe Massa puts a 1:35.232 on the board.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt at the Nurburgring: "Caroline, many apologies for my delayed greetings. BBC HQ has been up in arms this morning as Eddie Jordan arrived with news that the hotel left a hot water bottle on his bed last night. Given the bone-rattling gusts that we are being subjected to up in the mountains, the rest of the BBC crew would give anything for such luxuries. Yes I know, how the cars cope with the chilly temperatures will be much more crucial come qualifying."

1008: Just seeing a thermal image of the Force India mechanics working on Giancarlo Fisichella's car. Not sure why, although I can exclusively reveal that none of the Force India mechanics are hot at the moment. And there's Timo Glock, his helmet bearing the words 'GlockDog' in gold lettering. Word.

BBC Sport's pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie: "It'll be interesting to see if Lewis Hamilton can continue his momentum after finishing top of the timesheets in practice on Friday. Or was it simply a confidence boost for engine partner Mercedes-Benz on home turf? One team principal told me yesterday that they reckoned Hamilton was just running on vapours to look good and there was no more to it than that."

1002: Dark clouds overhead at the Nurburgring, and the weather forecast for today and tomorrow is not looking clever. Although I'm feeling ready for another wet race, don't know about you.

BBC Sport's Jake Humphrey on Twitter: "BBC F1 team are in the house. Eddie Jordan forgot a jumper so is wearing a lovely BBC top. It's still cold. Could this be Mark Webber's pole day?"

1000: Green light is on and the cars are streaming out of the pits. Except Kimi Raikkonen, who's probably had a lie-in. Oh no, here he is now.

0957: If Bernie is reading this, I am also a trustworthy person. Very, very trustworthy. So if you've got another of those blank cheques lying around... Everyone else, manually refresh your page for the magic of moving pictures (in the UK).

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson at the Nurburgring: "At breakfast at Ferrari this morning, I put orange juice on my cornflakes and burnt my toast. Three early starts in a row must be catching up with me. It's gone all cloudy again, too."

0951: I've held off as long as I can... On to politics. Bernie Ecclestone has told the Times newspaper that Max Mosley will not go back on his promise to step down as FIA boss. "He's an honourable person," says Bernie. "I've always said Max can have a cheque signed by me, without any name or amount on it, because he's a trustworthy guy."

0947: Mark Webber was the quickest man in first practice yesterday, but Sebastian Vettel was the faster of the two Red Bulls in the afternoon. It literally hurts me to support an Aussie, but I'll make an exception for Webber. I'd like to see him win one too.

Text in your views on 81111
From Andy via text on 81111: "Be great to see Webber get a win this weekend. Top bloke!"

Force India on Twitter: "Weather much better this morning, warmer and sunny. Chance of rain later."

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson at the Nurburgring: "The Eifel mountains looked lovely this morning, with large patches of blue sky and cotton wool clouds. Could we be in for a rare dry Nurburgring day?"

0943: McLaren have gone four races without a point, and Lewis Hamilton has failed to get out of first qualifying for the last three, so the team have rushed ahead with new aero parts for Hamilton's car, with one mechanic apparently working 36 hours flat out. Heikki Kovalainen, though, is stuck with the old package.

0938: Before qualifying, we'll warm up with a bit of final practice at 1000 BST. Lewis Hamilton went quickest in second practice yesterday in a move that was probably designed to please Mercedes at their home track. But Hamilton seems pleased with his hastily revamped McLaren. "We've still got a long way to go but, most importantly, these new upgrades are pushing us in the right direction"

0930: Hello. Some would say you've got too much sport to choose from today. But let me tell you this: it's going to rain all day in Cardiff, and today's stage in the Tour de France will see the riders string out on the way up the hill and then catch each other up on the way down again. Something like that anyway. So stick with me, I've got qualifying thrills and spills for you.

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see also
Hamilton heads Vettel in practice
10 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
German Grand Prix practice photos
10 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
F1 breakaway plans still in place
09 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
Button wary of Red Bull challenge
09 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
Title is 'Button's to lose now'
07 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
Mark Webber column
14 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
F1 on the BBC
01 Dec 11 |  Formula 1

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