German GP: Fernando Alonso unsure of strategy gamble

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer at the Nurburgring
Highlights: Hamilton takes German GP pole

Fernando Alonso admitted he does not know whether Ferrari's gamble on an alternative strategy for the German Grand Prix will pay off.

Ferrari chose to qualify both their cars on the slower 'medium' tyre and hope the requirement to start on it will help them.

Alonso, who qualified eighth, said: "It is not clear which strategy is best.

"But, whatever the strategy, if you are fast you will be on the podium, and if you are not, you won't be."

The Spaniard is second in the championship, 21 points behind leader Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull and 13 ahead of Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen.

Vettel starts in second behind Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, with Raikkonen fourth on the grid.

Alonso's team-mate Felipe Massa took seventh place, beating the Spaniard by 0.083 seconds.

Ferrari's decision was based on the fact that the 'soft' tyres on which the six cars ahead will have to start lost performance within about five laps during the race-simulation runs in Friday practice.

The mediums, by contrast, performed consistently for more than 20 laps on Mark Webber's Red Bull.

Hamilton's talks through pole lap

The plan is to stay with the cars in front at the start, and perhaps pass some of them, and then take the lead when the others pit to change tyres.

But the hot temperatures predicted for Sunday may help the soft tyres retain their performance for longer.

Alonso, who has been about 0.1secs slower than Raikkonen most of the weekend, said: "Obviously we are not quick enough to fight for pole position so if you think about starting fifth or sixth with the soft or seventh or eighth with the medium it is difficult to choose one strategy - it opens a new possibility.

"We see tomorrow of it's a good decision or not. We are quite happy with the car coming back to a good level of competitiveness [after qualifying 10th at Silverstone a week ago] and we feel a little bit more optimistic."

McLaren's Jenson Button, who chose not to do a lap time in final qualifying so he had free tyre choice for the start of the race and is expected to start on the 'prime' medium tyre, said: "It's very surprising the Ferraris are on the prime. I understand the reasons but I'm a little bit surprised they're both doing it and both setting a lap time.

"I would have thought they'd have put Felipe on the soft to get him up front as he was quickest in Q2, but that's the choice they've made and it's very interesting there are two cars on primes so far up - very tricky for the cars on option tyres."

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