Mark Webber will start from pole position for the first time in his F1 career tomorrow after mastering tricky conditions at the Nurburgring.
The Brawns of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button will line up behind him with Sebastian Vettel only fourth for his home race.
Lewis Hamilton’s rejuvenated McLaren starts from fifth on the grid.
Qualifying started in conditions that were scarcely any warmer than practice, just 22C on the surface of the track. That prompted almost all the teams to opt for the super-soft tyre, but Red Bull made an attempt to get through using the medium compound.
Sebastian Vettel went quickest on his mediums with a 1’31.430, just 0.043s ahead of Lewis Hamilton – the McLaren driver (on super-softs) enjoying a much more competitive run with a revised diffuser on his MP4/24.
But everyone returned for a final shot with the super-soft tyres, starting with Mark Webber, who went fastest with a 1’31.257. Fernando Alonso was poised to demote the Red Bull but he came across the slow Toyota of Timo Glock at the final corner and lost time.
Jenson Button’s final effort of 1’31.568 – one tenth of a second slower than team mate Rubens Barrichello – put him third, illustrating the problems Brawn faced in getting their tyres up to temperature.
Most of the runners wrapped up their final runs with three minutes to spare as light rain began to fall on part of the track. Glock was among those caught out, as was Sebastien Bourdais, who spun off.
Drivers eliminated in Q1
16. Robert Kubica, BMW – 1’32.190
17. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1’32.251
18. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India-Mercedes – 1’32.402
19. Timo Glock, Toyota – 1’32.423
20. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1’33.559
With rain falling as the second part of qualifying began all 15 cars bolted onto the track as quickly as possible. But as Kazuki Nakajima and Felipe Massa spun off the track it became clear the conditions were just too wet for slick tyres. Everyone apart from Mark Webber came straight back in for slick tyres – the Red Bull driver tiptoed around the greasy track and then came in for intermediates too.
Heikki Kovalainen went fastest to begin with and then spun off at turn four, shortly after team mate Hamilton had set the fastest time.
But the conditions continued to toy with the drivers – first the track dried as no further rain fell, giving them the chance to switch to slicks. Barrichello took the opportunity to do just that and set a 1’34.455 while the track was at its driest.
But then rain began to fell once more, putting the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button in jeopardy.
Button and Hamilton both scraped through with their final efforts. But Alonso spun at the chicane and failed to make it into Q3 – while team mate Nelson Piquet Jnr was second behind Barrichello – and one place ahead of Adrian Sutil.
Kimi Raikkonen also had a spin but he and Ferrari team mate Felipe Massa both made it into Q3.
Drivers eliminated in Q2
11. Nick Heidfeld, BMW – 1’42.310
12. Fernando Alonso, Renault – 1’42.318
13. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams-Toyota – 1’42.500
14. Jarno Trulli, Toyota – 1’42.771
15. Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota – 1’42.859
For the first time this year, both McLarens made it into Q3, accompanied by the Brawns, Red Bulls and Ferraris, plus Nelson Piquet Jnr’s Renault and Adrian Sutil’s Force India.
Jenson Button went out first but didn’t set a timed lap – team mate Rubens Barrichello put up the first time with a 1’32.797. Mark Webber slotted in second, half a second slower than the Brawn.
As the final set of runs began, Lewis Hamilton briefly put the McLaren fastest ahead of the two Brawns. But he was demoted by the Red Bulls and Brawns on the final set of runs.
It was Mark Webber who set the quickest time with a 1’32.230, but team mate Vettel was a quarter of a second slower. The two Brawns took advantage of that delay, with Rubens Barrichello nabbing the second spot on the front row.
The other surprise of the final part of qualifying was Adrian Sutil taking seventh place ahead of the two Ferraris. With more rain expected tomorrow, and the fuel weights yet to be published, we could be in for a gripping race tomorrow.
Update: Fuel weights published: Heavy fuel load puts Webber in strong position (German Grand Prix fuel loads)
Top ten drivers in Q3
1. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault – 1?σΤιΌ??32.230
2. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn-Mercedes – 1?σΤιΌ??32.357
3. Jenson Button, Brawn-Mercedes – 1?σΤιΌ??32.473
4. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault – 1?σΤιΌ??32.480
5. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes – 1?σΤιΌ??32.616
6. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes – 1?σΤιΌ??33.859
7. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes – 1?σΤιΌ??34.316
8. Felipe Massa, Ferrari – 1?σΤιΌ??34.574
9. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari – 1?σΤιΌ??34.710
10. Nelson Piquet Jnr, Renault – 1?σΤιΌ??34.803
Read more: German Grand Prix grid