Alonso claims second straight F1 pole

Fernando Alonso from Ferrari will start on the pole for Sunday's German Grand Prix after posting the quickest lap in a rain-soaked qualifying session at the Hockenheim circuit.

Alonso, the current leader in the world championship point standings, topped Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber in the closing minutes of Saturday's qualifying. Alonso made a lap around the 2.842-mile, 17-turn course in 1 minute, 40.621 seconds for his 22nd career F1 pole.

The Spaniard also won the pole for the most recent grand prix two weeks ago in Silverstone, England. It was his and Ferrari's first pole since September 2010 in Singapore. Qualifying for the British Grand Prix was also plagued by rain.

The first qualifying stint (Q1) ran under dry conditions, but rain began falling on the course at the start of Q2 and continued through the third and final session.

"Everything went well for us," said Alonso, who was also quickest in the final practice session held earlier in the day. "We backed off a little bit during those aquaplaning moments. The rest of the laps were clean. We made a good strategy call doing a pit stop in Q3, and we had fresher tires in the last minute when the track was in a little bit better condition. I think that helped us a lot to improve the lap time."

Alonso won the German GP the last time it was held at Hockenheim in 2010. He finished second to Lewis Hamilton in last year's race, which was contested on the 3.2-mile Nurburgring circuit. Alonso's first victory in this event came in 2005 when he drove for Renault.

Vettel qualified second with a lap in 1:41.026. The German has 22 career wins but has yet to score a victory in his home race.

"In these conditions, it's extremely tricky," Vettel said. "I think we had the pace today to put the car on pole at the end. I think the lap time was possible. We need to have a look at what Fernando did with his strategy at the end. Maybe that was a better way to do it.

"Overall in these conditions, it's always a bit of a lottery. You can lose the car without making any mistakes in aquaplaning conditions. Fortunately, we didn't lose it, and we're on the front row, which should be good. We'll see what happens tomorrow."

Webber's lap in 1:41.496 placed him third, but he will drop five places on the grid due to a gearbox change. His team discovered a transmission issue with his Red Bull car and replaced the gearbox prior to qualifying. Lotus' Romain Grosjean and Mercedes' Nico Rosberg also received five-place grid penalties for unscheduled gearbox changes. Grosjean qualified 15th and Rosberg 17th.

"I did a better job than the other guys who had the five-place penalty," said Webber, who will start eighth. "We could have done better here and there, but we did our best out there at that point."

German Michael Schumacher qualified fourth one day after crashing his Mercedes car hard into the tire wall due to slippery track conditions during the second practice session.

Nico Hulkenberg from Force India placed fifth, while Williams' Pastor Maldonado was sixth. McLaren's Jenson Button and Hamilton qualified seventh and eighth, respectively. Hulkenberg's teammate, Paul di Resta, and Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen completed the top-10.

With nine of 20 grand prix completed this season, Alonso holds a 13-point lead over Webber, who won the British GP. Alonso and Webber are the only drivers with multiple victories so far this season.

Vettel, the two-time defending world champion, trails Alonso by 29 points, while Hamilton is 37 points behind.

Sunday's 67-lap German GP is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. (ET).