Lewis Hamilton gave Mercedes plenty to cheer about at their home race by putting his Silver Arrow on pole position for tomorrow’s German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.
Sebastian Vettel, who hadn’t started on the front row for his home race since 2010, lines up alongside the Brit. The Red Bull man lost out in the dying seconds of Q3 by just one-tenth of a second.
Mark Webber, who had been on pole here for the last two events at this track, will start 3rd alongside the improving Kimi Raikkonen, whose 4th place is the best qualifying spot for the Finn since the Spanish Grand Prix.
Romain Grosjean put his recent troubles behind him to set a time fast enough for 5th, just behind his Lotus teammate, while Daniel Ricciardo kept up his good run of form by setting the 6th fastest time.
Both Ferraris played the long game by setting slower times on the medium compound in Q3, with Felipe Massa getting the best of Fernando Alonso, in 7th and 8th respectively.
Jenson Button and Nico Hulkenberg were surprise Q3 entrants. Both took the conservative route to start on the harder medium tyre ready for the race tomorrow, with both even failing to set a time overall.
Silverstone winner Nico Rosberg failed to get out of Q2 for the session’s biggest shock. The Mercedes man decided to stay in the garage instead of setting on final time, and tumbled down the order as others went faster and faster.
Here’s how it all went down…
Paul Di Resta, no stranger to this track after his exploits in DTM a few years back, was first man on track. He was soon joined by many others on the medium compound trying to build temperatures, with his teammate Adrian Sutil complaining heavily of oversteer. The hot track temperatures were starting to play havoc with the balance of some cars.
Daniel Ricciardo kept his purple patch of form going by setting the pace halfway through the session. Fernando Alonso and then Kimi Raikkonen then overtook the Aussie with 5 minutes to others began to stretch their legs on the softer compound Pirellis. Felipe Massa topped the session, just over a tenth faster than the Finn.
Leaving qualifying was the usual suspects of the Marussias and Caterhams, but it was by the skin of his teeth that Sergio Perez escaped the drop zone with seconds to spare. Williams terrible season continued with both Pastor Maldonado and Valterri Bottas not making it out of Q1 yet again. Bad times. Literally.
17. Valterri Bottas
18. Pastor Maldonado
19. Charles Pic
20. Jules Bianchi
21. Giedo Van Der Garde
22. Max Chilton
With the track temperature rising it was clear that, yet again, that tyres would come into play. With most of the field now on softs after using mediums to get through Q1 – the Red Bull duo of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were only 9th and 13th in that session – it became more of a shootout.
With that, the usual suspects took the front. Lewis Hamilton pace setter, quickly followed by Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg. Raikkonen and Alonso were the best of the rest before the Red Bulls took to the track. Vettel then went fastest, with Webber splitting the Silver Arrows in 4th.
The Ferraris then came to the fore, with Alonso taking top spot before being beaten by Felipe Massa, and Kimi Raikkonen. The Brazilian went fastest by two-hundredths of a second.
Biggest casualty of the session? Nico Rosberg. The man who many thought would be challenging for the pole and win was sat in the garage as the times tumbled, and will start 11th at his home race.
11. Nico Rosberg
12. Paul Di Resta
13. Sergio Perez
14. Esteban Guttierez
15. Adrian Sutil
16. Jean-Eric Vergne
The slow burner of a session soon became a powder keg as the track continued to evolve. Ferrari looked to maximise their sudden advantage by getting on track as soon as possible, joined by the equally impressive Daniel Ricciardo. Two consecutive Q3 appearances should do his Red Bull hopes no end of good.
The end of the first runs saw Lewis Hamilton again go fastest, ahead of Vettel and Raikkonen, then Webber and the improved Romain Grosjean.
At the other end of the top ten, Alonso, Massa and Jenson Button decided to take a sunny afternoon drive and trundled around failing to set any serious lap times. The curse of “running the tyres you start on” continues.
At least we could rely on the guts and glory of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. First the German home hero leapfrogged the Mercedes to take provisional pole, before Hamilton struck back with a time just one-tenth of a second faster, to take his second consecutive top grid spot.
German Grand Prix Top Ten;
1. Lewis Hamilton
2. Sebastian Vettel
3. Mark Webber
4. Kimi Raikkonen
5. Romain Grosjean
6. Daniel Ricciardo
7. Felipe Massa
8. Fernando Alonso
9. Jenson Button
10. Nico Hulkenberg