German GP – Sebastian Vettel Takes Pole as Lewis Hamilton Hits Trouble

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Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari secured a well-deserved pole position at his home German Grand Prix in Hockenheim. His title rival Lewis Hamilton‘s car hit trouble in Q1 itself. Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes claimed P2, while Kimi Raikkonen could only manage P3. Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing took P4, while the Haas duo of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean rounded off the top-six positions.

Sebastian Vettel Takes Pole as Lewis Hamilton Hits Trouble

Q1: Raikkonen tops as Hamilton’s car breaks down

The first qualifying session started under cloudy skies with air temperatures at 22 degrees C and track temperatures at 30 degrees C. Humidity was as high as 82% after a fully wet FP3. Most cars started on the ultrasoft tyres.

Many drivers had off-track moments, due to a slippery track after rains in FP3. Lewis Hamilton went off-track many times culminating in a hard hit on his car’s floor on the kerbs. That set off a hydraulic problem in his car, which needed to be pushed off by the marshalls and Hamilton himself. He looked disconsolate after the incident envisaging another troublesome race from down the grid.

Both the Ferraris looked strong trading fastest times. Ultimately Raikkonen topped the session with a time of 1:12.505s. The drivers eliminated were Stoffel Vandoorne, Lance Stroll, Brendon Hartley, Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon. Both the Saubers and the Williams of Sergey Sirotkin were through to Q2.

Q2: Ericsson triggers red-flag while Bottas tops

Most drivers again started on ultrasofts except for Verstappen who started on the yellow-striped soft tyres. Valtteri Bottas set the pace early on with a time of 1:12.152s, before Marcus Ericsson spun at turn-13 hitting the gravel trap. As he tried to recover his way back to the track, he spilt a lot of gravel at that turn. Raikkonen and Vettel could manage times much slower than Bottas, negotiating their way through the spilt gravel. The session was red-flagged by race control to clear the track at turn 13.

Daniel Ricciardo did not come out again in Q2, as he was hit by penalties beforehand, for replacement of multiple elements of his power unit. He will be starting the race from the back of the grid. Fernando Alonso qualified at P11, while Sirotkin qualified at a pleasantly surprising P12. Others in the dropzone were Ericsson and Hamilton.

Q3: Close battle between Bottas and the Ferraris

Sebastian Vettel went fastest immediately on his first run while both Raikkonen and Bottas were looking strong. But Raikkonen committed small errors on both his runs ending up at P3. Bottas had a good second run upstaging Vettel’s time provisionally taking pole. But, Vettel had more left in his bag as he squeezed out purple sectors on his final run to reclaim pole position with a lap record of 1:11.212s. It was a special pole for Vettel, the 55th of his career, at his home grand prix with German flags waving.

Ferrari have the upper hand but Mercedes will be fighting hard on Sunday

The race prospects look good for Ferrari but with Bottas showing good pace and Hamilton pumped up for redemption, it bodes well for an intriguing Sunday. Red Bulls will also be stronger in race conditions and Haas boys can deliver good results if they keep out of trouble. Will Vettel finally get that elusive home win at Hockenheim? Let’s find out on Sunday.

The complete qualifying time-sheet:

Pos No Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:12.538 1:12.505 1:11.212 16
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:12.962 1:12.152 1:11.416 18
3 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:12.505 1:12.336 1:11.547 17
4 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:13.127 1:12.188 1:11.822 18
5 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:13.105 1:12.523 1:12.200 18
6 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:12.986 1:12.722 1:12.544 17
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:13.479 1:12.946 1:12.560 17
8 55 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:13.324 1:13.032 1:12.692 19
9 16 Charles Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 1:13.077 1:12.995 1:12.717 23
10 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:13.427 1:13.072 1:12.774 19
11 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 1:13.614 1:13.657 16
12 35 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 1:13.708 1:13.702 13
13 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:13.562 1:13.736 17
14 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:13.012 8
15 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:13.318 6
16 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 1:13.720 10
17 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 1:13.749 9
18 28 Brendon Hartley Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 1:14.045 8
19 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:14.206 10
20 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Renault 1:14.401 10

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