Van der Garde sails to Hockenheim pole
Dutchman on top in wet qualifying
Giedo van der Garde held his nerve in heavy weather to take his second pole position of the season this afternoon in Hockenheim, clinging on as his rivals slid all over the circuit in the wet conditions to take the top spot ahead of James Calado and Fabio Leimer.
The Dutchman's best time of 1:44.022 pipped his British rival by just 0.012 just as conditions worsened, giving the rest of the field no chance to improve their position as the clock wound down to zero. The session started with steady rain falling, and worsened slowly but surely as time went on. Accordingly all drivers (apart from Giancarlo Serenelli, who was unable to take part due to the damage picked up this morning) were straight on track to set some banker times, although most were unable to stop sliding in the treacherous conditions.
Calado, van der Garde and Davide Valsecchi were soon swapping best times, but with no dry line forming on the circuit the improvements were incremental: van der Garde set his best time eight minutes into the session, just as the radar screens noted there was no chance of any improvement until the end, and so it proved.
Most of the field came back in halfway through to regroup and talk with their engineers to see where any improvement could be found, but with the rain carrying on no one was able to pick up any time savings in the second half of the session, and it was soon all over.
Behind the top three Nigel Melker, Fabio Onidi, Valsecchi, Felipe Nasr, Victor Guerin, Esteban Gutiérrez and Luiz Razia were all hoping for more from the session, although both Lotus GP drivers will be dropped ten positions on tomorrow’s Starting Grid following penalties picked up two weeks ago in Silverstone. The results mean a slightly shaken up grid for tomorrow's feature race, which promises fights galore as everyone looks to put one over their rivals when it counts.