Fernando Alonso took his second consecutive pole position of the season - and second in the wet - at Hockenheimring overnight for tomorrow’s German Grand Prix.
The current Championship leader posted a time of 1m 40.621s, almost four-tenths faster than his rivals.
‘They were very on the limit, the conditions,’ said the pole-sitter. ‘Everything went well for us.’
‘It’s been a strange weekend for conditions on the track.
‘Tomorrow we’ll see. The forecast should be a little bit better for tomorrow.
‘We’re quite optimistic for tomorrow.’
Pole became a battle between Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel, and Mark Webber, with pole falling to each of them successively before Alonso snatched the prize from them in the final minute.
Vettel set a time fast enough to start alongside Alonso, just pipping team-mate Mark Webber to the place.
‘Tricky. Nevertheless, we had the pace today to put the car on pole in the end,’ thought Vettel. ‘We’re on the first row, which should be good.
‘Overall, I think in these conditions it’s always a bit of a lottery as well. Fortunately we didn’t lose it.’
Webber, despite qualifying third-fastest, will start from P8 once his five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change is taken into account.
‘Tricky for all of us. Dodgy conditions,’ said the Australian.
‘We aim to go forward for sure. The car is strong in all conditions - but we have many many quick cars out there as well.
‘It’s a long season, it’s a marathon - we’ll keep boxing, and looking forward to tomorrow.’
Q3 began with complaints that the track was too wet to qualify on. Alonso and Schumacher both using team radio in attempts to have the ever-listening race director Charlie Whiting suspend the session.
Their pleas went unheeded, however, and the top ten qualifiers were forced to battle on wet rubber for pole position as scheduled.
If the conditions were still drivable, it was only marginally, with the session littered with examples of drivers losing control of their cars at all places on the circuit.
However, with the rain halting as the time ticked away, the drivers began to find form, and Alonso found his way to pole position.
Qualifying behind the top three were Michael Schumacher (who will bump up to P3 on tomorrow’s grid), Nico Hulkenberg, and Pastor Maldonado.
Jenson Button qualified in seventh, his best Saturday performance since Bahrain in round four - though McLaren failed to perform as strongly as it was hoping.
Button also found himself ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton, though by only less than a tenth. Paul di Resta and Kimi Raikkonen round off the top ten.
Nico Rosberg, Mark Webber, and Romain Grosjean started Saturday afternoon on the back foot, each of them knowing that five-place penalties awaited them for gearbox changes post-session.
Each car found its way around the Hockenheim circuit early during the session, with the German weather proving unpredictable, and rain being expected at some point throughout the session.
Grosjean struggled throughout the session, unable to piece together a competitive lap. Mcihael Schumacher similarly set poor times, just avoiding elimination by less than a tenth of a second.
The weather held off for the first thirty minutes, however, and eliminated from Q1 were usual suspects Jean-Eric Vergne, Heikki Kovalinen, Vitaly Petrov, Charles Pic, Timo Glock, Pedro de la Rosa, and Narain Karthikeyan.
The weather eventually delivered on its promise as the clock started on Q2, with rain falling lightly, before intensifying.
The remaining drivers scrambled to set a lap as quickly as possible on intermediate tyres, and while the track was still relatively dry.
The weather deteriorated enough within the final ten minutes to warrant full wet tyres, but by that point the damage done to those outsidede the top ten was irreparable.
Lining up from P10 on tomorrow’s grid will be Daniel Ricciardo, Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi.
Felipe Massa and Romain Grosjean were two of the session’s big-name eliminations, just ahead of Bruno Senna.
Nico Rosberg, meanwhile, was the biggest shock of the afternoon, setting a time good enough for only P17.
The 2012 German Grand Prix kicks off Sunday evening at 10PM AEST.