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LIVE COMMENTARY: 2012 GERMAN GRAND PRIX - QUALIFYING
   GO TO LIVE INDEX ALL TIMES GMT  
As it happened: Qualifying
By Geoff Creighton, Emlyn Hughes, Simon Strang and Edd Straw
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
Alonso11:50 Hello everyone and welcome back to AUTOSPORT Live for continuing coverage of round 10 in this year's FIA Formula 1 world championship. The practice sessions have been completed and now it is time to qualify for tomorrow's German Grand Prix.

Finally, the teams got a small window of dry weather this morning to test out both Pirelli compounds effectively and run with varying amounts of fuel before another downpour arrived.

Fernando Alonso topped the session for Ferrari with a lap of 1m16.014s, ahead of Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez and Kimi Raikkonen. Both Mercedes drivers and Jenson Button finished well down the order,after being unable to get a soft tyre run in on low fuel as the shower hit in the dying moments of the session.

Alonso fastest in final German GP practice

Mark Webber, Romain Grosjean and Nico Rosberg will all have gearbox penalties applied once the session has concluded, leaving us set for a jumbled grid order.

11:52 The downpour at the end of final practice carried on for a few minutes, thoroughly soaking the circuit. It stopped shortly afterwards and track conditions have improved since then.

However, further thundery showers are closing in on the circuit from the north and north-west. Rain is expected soon and the session should take place in varying levels of wet track, ranging from damp to undriveable, as showers cross Hockenheim.

Air temperature has peaked at today's maximum of 18 degrees Celsius and track surface temperature will fluctuate between the showers.

11:54 Here is how the qualifying battle is shaping up as the season approaches half distance:
Qualifying head-to-head

Vettel         4 - 5     Webber
Button         0 - 9     Hamilton
Alonso         9 - 0     Massa
Schumacher     4 - 5     Rosberg
Raikkonen      3 - 6     Grosjean
Di Resta       5 - 4     Hulkenberg
Kobayashi      6 - 3     Perez
Ricciardo      8 - 1     Vergne
Maldonado      7 - 2     Senna
Kovalainen     7 - 2     Petrov
De la Rosa     9 - 0     Karthikeyan
Glock          6 - 2     Pic
11:56 Track temperature is 25 Celsius, with the air at 17 degrees.

11:58 McLaren tell Button that it could rain at 14:10 local time - half way through Q1.

11:59 Showers are hovering close to the circuit and we expect a very changeable 60 minutes of action ahead.

11:59 Drivers looking ready for early action, wanting to bank a time before any rain arrives.

12:00 AUTOSPORT's TV critic @Revved_Up observes: "What's happened to the German f1 fans? You see more people at dtm! #GermanGP". He also thinks Vettel's going to get pole, unsurprisingly...

0 min: Qualifying begins in Germany.

0 min: Several drivers are straight out onto the track in an effort to beat the weather.

0 min: Glock and Pic in the Marussias join the early rush out of the pits.

1 min: All 24 drivers on track with a large shower now very close to the circuit.

1 min: The leading runners on track are straight into a flying lap.

2 min: Traffic could be cause for complaint as drivers immediately begin laps against the clock.

2 min: Hulkenberg is one of the first on the road and he is likely to get the chaos going in just a few seconds.

2 min: Hulkenberg starts the show with 1m18.475s.

3 min: Di Resta moves into second spot with 1m18.600s.

3 min: Maldonado is quicker than both Force India drivers with a lap of 1m18.317s.

3 min: The Ferrari and McLaren drivers trade fastest sectors as the first laps continue.

3 min: Rosberg goes fastest with his first effort - 1m17.051s and Schumacher slots into second.

3 min: Hamilton slots in fourth fastest with his initial effort.

4 min: Alonso tops the early times with a 1m16.705s on medium compound.

4 min: Button is an early second quickest in his upgraded McLaren.

4 min: Meteo France expects a shower in around 25 minutes. The teams aren't trusting that prediction, with 24 drivers having set a time four minutes into the session.

5 min: The order is Alonso up top with 1m16.705s, then Button in second, Rosberg third, Kobayashi fourth and Schumacher in fifth.

5 min: Teams are planning long runs here, with the chance to set improving times as the grip level returns to the circuit after earlier rain.

5 min: Hamilton and Button swap the best time in the first sector, where the McLaren has been strong so far this weekend.

6 min: Drivers are coming towards the end of a second flyer now. Vettel moves into a lowly 15th spot with 1m17.849s.

6 min: Hamilton follows Webber around the end of his lap but does top the times with a new best of 1m16.383s.

7 min: Button makes it a McLaren one-two for the moment.

7 min: One or two drops of moisture are being picked up on the on-board cameras - nothing to change the track condition just yet...

7 min: Massa cements a Ferrari three-four as the laps continue.

7 min: Hamilton now leads the way from Button, Alonso, Massa, Schumacher, Raikkonen and Perez.

7 min: @OfficialSF1Team - that's Sauber to you and me - is convinced it will stay dry for the first segment: "Q1 will be dry. no rain expected. both boys do 4 timed laps and then we take it from there. so far #Kamui P4 and #Checo P13".

8 min: Vettel has moved up to 11th spot with a time of 1m17.377s.

8 min: Button and Hamilton both run wide at Turn 1, something that is upsetting the officials this weekend.

8 min: Maldonado has moved up to seventh. Make that eighth as Vettel comes through in 1m16.691s for seventh spot.

9 min: Hulkenberg, Kovalainen, Petrov, de la Rosa, Pic, Glock and Karthikeyan are in the dropzone.

9 min: Hamilton returns from that off to further extend his advantage with a 1m16.221s lap.

10 min: Kobayashi splits the McLaren pair with a second fastest time of 1m16.481s.

10 min: Hulkenberg in 18th really needs to get out there just incase this cloud does burst over the circuit. If it rains in the next few minutes, he will have had it.

10 min: Hulkenberg reports on the team radio that the car felt good on his first timed lap, but he sensed the grip going on the second flyer.

11 min: With everyone else back in the pits, it is Hulkenberg who is first to come out for a second time.

11 min: Raikkonen, currently 11th, heads out again in his Lotus.

11 min: Vergne also heads out in the Toro Rosso. He is 15th in the classification after his first run.

11 min: Hamilton is told the McLaren team is confident his session-topping time will see him through to Q2.

12 min: Hulkenberg is now into a flying lap and looking to move out of the danger zone. He is currently 18th.

12 min: Pic and Glock return to the circuit on soft rubber.

13 min: The Force India driver locks up slightly, missing the apex a little at Turn 8.

13 min: Hulkenberg manages to keep the speed up though and he comes through in 1m16.271s. He is up into second spot.

14 min: That lap from the German pops Ricciardo into the dropzone in 18th.

14 min: Raikkonen tops the first sector on medium compound rubber, jumping all the way to the top of the times in 1m15.693s.

14 min: Vergne moves up from 15th to 10th with a time of 1m16.741s.

14 min: Di Resta in 17th and Ricciardo (18th) are now out on track for a final run with just over five minutes to go.

15 min: Webber is 13th in the classification. He joins the circuit, as does Schumacher, Senna and Maldonado.

15 min: Alonso deploys a set of soft tyres and heads out again in his Ferrari.

15 min: Ricciardo comes round and moves out of the dropzone and into seventh with a lap of 1m16.516s.

16 min: Perez and Grosjean have slipped to 17th and 18th and need to find more speed, and quickly.

16 min: Di Resta then moves up from 18th to fourth with 1m16.352s, putting Grosjean into the dreaded dropzone position.

16 min: Maldonado leaps into fourth with a time of 1m16.330s.

17 min: Grosjean remains on the medium compound and seems to be struggling for grip in his Lotus. He goes 12th.

17 min: Webber has dropped to 16th spot and needs to ensure progression, with a five-place grid penalty already hanging over him.

18 min: Perez has gone for soft tyres to escape the drop and jumps all the way up to second fastest despite a nervous-looking Sauber.

18 min: That improvement from Perez puts Webber into 18th and the dropzone! He is on a lap now on soft tyres.

18 min: Webber moves up, but only to 15th with a time of 1m16.712s.

19 min: Massa improves to sixth fastest with a soft tyre attempt in his Ferrari.

19 min: One or two drops are falling again, but nothing significant right at the moment.

19 min: Alonso is up to fourth after using softs as well.

19 min: Button has gambled on staying in the McLaren pit and is now down to 11th with all the soft tyre improvements.

19 min: Webber's lap put Schumacher into 18th and the first dropzone position, with further spots falling.

19 min: Grosjean is currently 14th and back in the Lotus pits.

20 min: Senna is 17th and trying to escape the clutches of Schumacher. He goes 10th with a time of 1m16.426s.

20 min: Grosjean tumbling quickly now - 16th and under some threat here.

12:20 The flag is out...

12:20 Schumacher needs just over two-tenths ... oh he squeaks it into 17th with a time of 1m16.686s.

12:21 Vergne is now 18th and in the pits - eliminated. Schumacher will be safe.

12:21 Kovalainen has secured 19th ahead of team-mate Petrov once again.

12:21 Meanwhile it's a great effort from Pic to recover from engine problems this morning to out-qualify team-mate Glock.

12:22 The first period of qualifying has been completed. These seven drivers have been eliminated:

18) Vergne
19) Kovalainen
20) Petrov
21) Pic
22) Glock
23) de la Rosa
24) Karthikeyan.

12:22 @eddstrawf1: "Almost came very badly undone for Mercedes there. Schumacher, on the medium Pirellis, had to pull a decent last sector out of the bag on the last lap after to bump Vergne. Just made it through."

12:23 Maldonado is told over the Williams team radio that there will be some rain before the start of the second phase of qualifying.

12:23 The driver breathing the biggest sigh of relief is Schumacher. With the weather closing in and on harder tyres he he made it through, ahead of Vergne by just under one-tenth of a second.

12:23 A narrow escape for Grosjean there after several off-track moments. He was just a thousandth fastest than Schumacher, ending up 16th.

12:25 @eddstrawf1: "Despite Caterham's updates, Heikki Kovalainen was still not far off a second slower than Vergne's Toro Rosso. Nowhere near Q2 pace."

12:25 The radar shows showers within a mile or two in all directions of Hockenheim. A huge thunderclap just over the circuit in the last few seconds.

12:26 The remaining 17 drivers that have made it through face a very difficult task. They will have 15 minutes to try and make it into the top 10.

12:26 This makes tyre choice a total lottery for the start of this segment, with teams surely hoping intermediates will work initially.

12:27 Q2 begins with rain falling at Hockenheim.

12:27 Panic in the garages as the rain begins to fall. Tyre changes going on everywhere.

0 min: Button is immediately out of the pits with intermediates on his McLaren.

0 min: Ricciardo and Maldonado are straight out onto the circuit. If this bursts in the next five minutes, then these drivers may get the best track conditions.

1 min: The showers have been very heavy here and full wets could soon be needed as the rain floods in.

1 min: The track is deteriorating quickly as the rain gets heavier.

1 min: Button is scrabbling for grip as everyone goes with the intermediates for the moment.

1 min: All 17 drivers are on track now for a run and it will be the first drivers over the line that will have a slight advantage.

2 min: Heavy traffic building around the lap as drivers jockey for position.

2 min: Button is sideways out of Turn 3 as he leads the pack into the flying laps.

3 min: This is a supreme challenge, with the drivers now into a first timed lap on intermediates and increasingly slippery conditions.

3 min: Heavier rain now falling as Button runs too deep in the middle part of the lap as it gets ever wetter.

3 min: The race is on to the start-finish line to get a time in the bank. Schumacher will be the last to record a lap time.

3 min: Button clocks a 1m39.010s as the first time to beat.

3 min: Maldonado moves ahead of Button with a lap of 1m38.949s.

4 min: Raikkonen goes third fastest as he struggles for grip in his Lotus.

4 min: Vettel takes over at the front with a lap of 1m38.505s.

4 min: Hamilton slots in fifth at the moment, just behind his team-mate.

4 min: Alonso grabs second for the moment as track conditions worsen despite some on-track juggling between the Ferraris.

4 min: Alonso is now second with Maldonado third, Button fourth and Hamilton fifth.

5 min: Schumacher takes over at the front with a time of 1m38.010s.

5 min: Worst possible conditions for McLaren who have struggled with tyre warm-up in this kind of situations recently. Which is a shame because the updates are working.

5 min: Massa is down to 17th after a poor initial lap, with his off-track moment also denting Alonso's progress.

5 min: The circuit is getting wetter and Rosberg is in the dropzone in 15th position.

6 min: Hamilton tops the order with a 1m37.927s lap in his McLaren.

6 min: Vettel moves back up to second but only briefly, with a time of 1m38.309s.

6 min: Alonso gets a clearer lap to go fourth in 1m38.521s.

6 min: Rosberg completes a lap but he's only 17th with a best of 1m41.551s as the rain continues to fall.

6 min: Massa has found some speed to improve to 11th but needs more to escape the drop.

7 min: Ricciardo improves to eighth and that drops Webber into 11th place and the dropzone.

7 min: Both Sauber men also struggling for the moment and will face elimination if they can't find more speed.

7 min: Di Resta moves into ninth and Webber comes back with a lap of 1m39.382s to go seventh.

8 min: Kobayashi and Perez improve to 13th and 11th but that's not enough for Sauber to avoid elimination.

8 min: Meanwhile Hamilton is enjoying these conditions and clocks a new best of 1m37.365s.

8 min: Raikkonen is in danger in 10th spot. Behind him we have Perez, Massa, Ricciardo, Kobayashi, Grosjean, Senna and Rosberg in the dropzone.

9 min: Webber has run wide at Turn 1 but managed to keep the Red Bull going without touching anything. He continues.

9 min: Impressive stuff from Hamilton there, who now looks to have backed off having comfortably topped the times.

9 min: The track condition is now reasonably wet with plumes of spray coming from the cars over all parts of the circuit.

9 min: Kobayashi tries again but it's still only 13th. He may have to pit for a change of tyres.

10 min: More rain coming in now and that could cement the fate of those outside the top 10.

10 min: Rosberg, stuck way down in 17th position, has had now option in the increasing rain but to go out on full wets.

10 min: Rosberg crosses the line and begins a timed lap on the deep treaded wet tyres.

11 min: Full wets now being called for, with Schumacher and Alonso going out to get a feel of the conditions on what could be the Q3 tyre.

11 min: Rosberg is 1.1s off the time needed to claim 10th spot in the first sector of the lap. It's looking like it's all over for the German.

11 min: No improvements on the screen now with intermediates overwhelmed by the ongoing downpour.

12 min: Widespread umbrellas in the grandstand as Rosberg comes through sector two more than three seconds away from what he needs.

12 min: Alonso reports the track is too wet to continue and will pit due to the risk of an excursion.

12 min: Rosberg clocks 1m44.503s - three seconds slower than his previous effort on intermediates in the early part of the session.

13 min: Hulkenberg is also out there on full wets. He is in eighth spot and probably using this as a test to see what these tyres will be like for the shootout.

13 min: No hope now for those outside the top 10, with the track still getting wetter.

14 min: Just under one minute to go and we are playing out time with Hamilton up front, Schumacher second and Vettel in third spot.

14 min: Grosjean, down in 15th, takes to the gravel at the Sachs kurve. He resumes but looks set to end the segment in 15th.

12:42 The flag is out to end a soggy second segment in Germany.

12:42 Alonso is fourth with Button fifth, Maldonado sixth, Webber seventh, Hulkenberg eighth, di Resta ninth and Raikkonen 10th.

12:42 Senna is off and wide at Turn 6 with his set of full wet tyres. He will end the session in 16th position.

12:43 Raikkonen complains that Perez has impeded the Finn's timed lap after emerging from the pits ahead of the Lotus.

12:43 The second period of qualifying has been completed. The following seven drivers are eliminated:

11) Ricciardo
12) Perez
13) Kobayashi
14) Massa
15) Grosjean
16) Senna
17) Rosberg.

12:44 Not a good segment for Sauber, with both drivers eliminated in 12th and 13th having been unable to find speed before the track worsened.

12:44 Alonso suggests the track is too wet for Q3 to take place at the moment.

12:44 There is now a lot of water on the circuit and we are close to the acceptable limit here, as the rain continues to fall heavily.

12:44 That's bad news for Grosjean and Rosberg who both have to take on five-place grid penalties as well!

12:45 @eddstrawf1: "Q2 was all about getting out there and registering a time early in the session when the track conditions were at their best. Some of those who missed out will complain of bad luck but as guys like Paul di Resta proved by setting their best times later on before the track was saturated, it wasn't a one-lap lottery."

12:46 Rain is falling very heavily at the moment, with Q3 due to begin in four minutes.

12:46 Rosberg ends up a lowly 17th and has a grid penalty to compound his woes. He couldn't get a good lap on the intermediates, leaving him chasing on full wets when it was too late.

12:47 So here are the 10 drivers that have made it through to the shootout:

Lewis Hamilton
Michael Schumacher
Sebastian Vettel
Fernando Alonso
Jenson Button
Pastor Maldonado
Mark Webber
Nico Hulkenberg
Paul di Resta
Kimi Raikkonen.

12:47 Just one Ferrari left in the session after Massa failed to make the cut, running off the circuit on his first attempt.

12:48 Teams await any word from race control about a delay to Q3, with conditions certainly very difficult at the moment.

12:49 Full wets are certainly the tyres to use if the segment begins on time in the next minute.

12:49 The rain is easing slightly but it continues to fall with the scheduled start of Q3 in less than one minute.

12:49 @eddstrawf1: "Rain has eased at Hockenheim. Track is very wet but don't see any reason to delay as this circuit doesn't hold anywhere near as much standing water as you see at Silverstone. Main question will be visibility."

0 min: Q3 begins with a very wet track at Hockenheim.

0 min: The McLaren drivers are straight out of the pits on full wets.

0 min: With the rain easing, conditions are likely to improve by the lap.

0 min: The drivers are out there quickly. Di Resta is the last to leave the pitlane.

1 min: Drivers will need to be very careful on this opening tour as the initial standing water is cleared from the racing line.

1 min: Hulkenberg is off the circuit already on the run down to Turn 6. He recovers from the grass and continues.

2 min: The leading drivers are now into a timed lap with the rain continuing to ease.

2 min: Very tough conditions at the moment as the top 10 begin to get a timed lap underway.

3 min: Button is struggling for grip in his McLaren as he heads around to set the first time at a 1m46.922s.

3 min: Maldonado slots in behind both McLaren drivers with a time of 1m49.502s.

3 min: Hamilton is quicker than his team-mate with a first effort of 1m46.609s.

4 min: Vettel tops the list with a lap of 1m44.605s.

4 min: Alonso is quicker still, temporarily setting the benchmark for Ferrari.

4 min: @eddstrawf1: "Likely that the teams will have opted to fuel their cars to the end of the session. Can always make a quick stop for a tyre change if anyone deems it necessary."

4 min: Hulkenberg has recovered well from that 'off'. He is into third spot with a lap of 1m44.926s and team-mate di Resta is into fourth.

4 min: Raikkonen has an off track moment at Turn 1, with Hamilton taking to the grass at Turn 7.

5 min: So it's Vettel, then Alonso, Hulkenberg, di Resta, Schumacher in fifth and Hamilton sixth.

5 min: Button improves his time to a 1m45.491s to go fourth.

6 min: Alonso pits his Ferrari an may be looking to gamble on a switch to intermediates.

6 min: Hamilton is now the fastest man through the first part of the lap.

6 min: Vettel crosses start-finish but is not able to beat his previous mark. 1m44.605s remains as the time to beat.

6 min: Alonso has returned to the circuit with another set of full wets.

7 min: Di Resta has moved ahead of team-mate Hulkenberg and into a sensational third with 1m44.910s.

7 min: Hamilton oversteers his way around the final part of the lap to top the times in 1m44.186s.

7 min: Vettel is faster than everyone through the first two sectors of the lap, as Schumacher goes quickest with 1m42.473s.

7 min: Button has also been in to the pits for a set of fresh wets.

7 min: Vettel takes over at the head of the list with a time of 1m42.342s.

8 min: Just too much water on the track for intermediates, leaving this as a scrap on full wets to the flag.

8 min: So now it's Vettel from Schumacher, Hamilton, Alonso and di Resta with just over 90 seconds left on the clock.

8 min: Alonso is the fastest man in the first sector on his fresh tyres.

8 min: @eddstrawf1: "This could be a good day to be last across the line!"

9 min: Webber is way down in eighth place with a penalty to come. He needs to improve massively on this or the next (last) lap.

9 min: Alonso lights up the middle sector and is set to move to the top.

9 min: Webber rises to the occasion and goes quickest with a time of 1m41.680s.

9 min: Alonso clocks 1m40.904s to comfortably head the list for the moment.

10 min: The flag is out, final chance now...

13:00 It's now Alonso, Webber, Vettel, Schumacher, Hulkenberg and Hamilton as they go onto their last lap in the improving conditions.

13:00 @eddstrawf1: "Alonso is going to be that last man across the line. Vettel on a quick one right now so could end up being between those two."

13:01 Button goes sixth, demoting team-mate Hamilton to seventh.

13:01 Schumacher crosses the line and is fourth with 1m42.459s.

13:01 Vettel comes round and he can't beat Alonso. It's second for the German with 1m41.026s.

13:01 Fernando Alonso takes pole for the German Grand Prix.

13:02 Hulkenberg is fifth with his last attempt - 1m43.501s and Webber was unable to move back up the order.

13:02 A late improvement for championship leader Alonso puts the Ferrari man on top of the grid for the second race in a row.

13:03 Behind the Spaniard, Vettel claims a spot on the front row of the grid with Webber third in the classification (prior to penalty).

13:03 Schumacher is fourth on the timesheet with Hulkenberg fifth, Maldonado improved to sixth, Button seven and Hamilton eighth.

13:04 Di Resta finished Q3 in ninth spot and Kimi Raikkonen rounds out the top 10 after an amazing session.

13:05 There will be changes to the grid order of course, once the three penalties are applied, but no change at the top and Alonso has the pole.

13:05 Alonso and Vettel are set to go head-to-head on the first lap. Dare you miss it? Join us tomorrow for all the race action from Hockenheim.

  OVERVIEW QUALIFYING  
Session length: 60 minutes
  CURRENT WEATHER
Overcast High Temp: 18°C / 64°F
Track: Soaked
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Friday 20 Jul Start GMT
 Friday practice one 07:55
 Friday practice two 11:55
Saturday 21 Jul
 Saturday practice 08:55
 Qualifying 11:50
Sunday 22 Jul
 The German Grand Prix 11:45