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Page last updated at 13:05 GMT, Saturday, 11 July 2009 14:05 UK

Webber charges to first F1 pole

Venue: Nurburgring Dates: 10-12 July 2009 Coverage: Live coverage of Friday's practice sessions, Saturday qualifying and Sunday's race - which starts at 1300 BST - across BBC TV, radio and online platforms. Find full listings here

Mark Webber

Highlights - Webber claims German pole

By Russell Barder

Red Bull's Mark Webber qualified on pole for the first time after a rain-affected qualifying session for the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.

The Australian clocked one minute 32.230 to finish ahead of Brawn GP's Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button.

Sebastian Vettel was fourth in the second Red Bull as the unpredictable weather made for a thrilling afternoon.

The improving McLaren of Lewis Hamilton will start fifth, equalling his best qualifying performance of the season.

The reigning world champion last started inside the top six in Bahrain and his performance on Saturday was just reward for his team who have worked tirelessly to get a new floor, new top bodywork and front wing onto his car.


For Webber, Saturday's performance puts him in a good position to record his first win and the 32-year-old said: "This is a very special day for me.

"I've been close to getting pole a few times in the past, and now we're here.

"The team has done a very good job; I've been quick all weekend, but we got really tested today.

"But I'm now in a fantastic position to get my first win. Obviously the Brawns have had a strong season and will push us.

"But we're up for the fight - I certainly am - and I'm up for trying to win my first race."

Vettel pushed hard around the final few corners as he searched for pole at his home grand prix, but the German had to settle for a place on the second row.

BBC SPORT'S FUEL-ADJUSTED GRID (with projected race first pit stops*)
1 Webber (lap 21)
2 Vettel +0.250 (lap 19)
3 Hamilton +0.614 (lap 18)
4 Barrichello +0.617 (lap 14)
5 Button +0.838 (lap 13)
6 Sutil +1.474 (lap 28)
7 Kovalainen +1.524 (lap 21)
8 Massa +1.906 (lap 25)
9 Raikkonen +2.025 (lap 26)
10 Piquet +2.048 (lap 26)
* Calculated on the weight of fuel left in cars after qualifying had finished

Heikki Kovalainen, running without the same updates as his McLaren team-mate Hamilton, recorded a creditable sixth, while Force India enjoyed their best ever qualifying with Adrian Sutil seventh on the grid.

The Ferrari's of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen, who have also come to Germany having made a few aerodynamic tweaks, will start eighth and ninth respectively.

Nelson Piquet Jr completes the top ten having out-qualified team-mate Fernando Alonso for the first time, who was the most high profile victim during the second qualifying session and starts from 12th.

The Nurburgring's infamous micro-climate played its part during that session as the rain that had began to fall at the end of qualifying one threatened to cause havoc.

The drivers were desperate to get out early at the start of the second session and all made the decision to go with slick tyres.

However, within the space of a lap the majority pitted for intermediates as cars span off with the rain continuing to fall.

It was a decision that appeared to pay dividends as laps times increased, until Barrichello and the Brawn team pulled a masterstroke by reverting to slicks as the rain abated in the middle part of the session.

Qualifying two was madness, but it was good fun.

Jenson Button

The Brazilian went nearly three and half seconds quicker than the rest of the field and they soon followed suit to make for an exciting climax to the session, with Hamilton and Button pulling out a lap late on to just make it through.

"I had some crazy ones in the past but it's always the more recent one that counts," said Barrichello.

"We were just saying that it felt like we were not breathing for the whole session and it feels like we are only starting to breath again now."

Button added: "Qualifying two was madness, but it was good fun.

"We're struggling with the tyres anyway, but when you chuck water in there as well it's quite difficult.

"But it's great to see us, Rubens and myself, in the top three - and Mark's got his first pole, so congratulations to him."

Webber said of his last lap in qualifying two, on slicks in the rain: "I was all over the place, nearly off several times, nearly in my hotel room at the last corner. I thought I must have been 18th. I couldn't believe it when I was fourth."

Qualifying one saw Toyota's German driver Timo Glock eliminated as he could only put his car 19th, although he was later demoted to last after stewards ruled he had impeded Alonso.

It means Toro Rosso's under-pressure Sebastien Bourdais, whose seat is rumoured to be under threat, moves one place up the grid.

To complete a busy day for the stewards, Red Bull were fined £8,500 for failing to release Vettel from the pits when it was safe to do so as he almost collided with Williams' Kazuki Nakajima.

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see also
German GP qualifying as it happened
11 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
German Grand Prix qualifying results
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German Grand Prix qualifying photos
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McLaren still fighting - Hamilton
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German GP practice as it happened
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German Grand Prix practice photos
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Zoom in and fly around the Nurburgring
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F1 breakaway plans still in place
09 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
Button wary of Red Bull challenge
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Title is 'Button's to lose now'
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Mark Webber column
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F1 on the BBC
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