Lewis Hamilton will start Mercedes home race from pole position after out qualifying Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by three-tenths of a second ahead of the German Grand Prix. The five-times champion was on fire and following the struggles on Friday pulled the lap together going ahead of the Dutchman.
Mercedes went into Saturday expecting to be behind the Ferrari’s, however, the Italian team were out of qualifying from the start of the session. Sebastian Vettel was the first to be knocked out in Q1 after the German failed to get out of the session.
Vettel was out after his out lap because of an issue with the airflow to the turbo, leaving him twentieth. His teammate Charles Leclerc did show pace later in the session, however, an issue for the Monacan left him unable to challenge at the front.
Ferrari confirmed Vettel had a ‘turbo related problem’ while Leclerc had a ‘fuel system issue’.
The two Mercedes drivers and Leclerc will both start on the medium compound Pirellis having used them to set their best times in Q2
Leclerc said “On my side, it was a fuel system problem, so it’s a shame but we will be trying to understand what happened in order to not reproduce it. It’s a very difficult day for the team, but I hope it will be a more positive day tomorrow”
Ferrari’s woes where Red Bull’s gains, as Verstappen fought with Valtteri Bottas for a place on the front row. However, the issues robbed us of what looked to be an epic battle for pole between Leclerc and Hamilton, with the Englishman sailing to his fourth pole of the season.
Ferrari may be able to come back in the race, as overtaking is possible but the question will be tomorrow is how fast they clear the midfield and start closing up to Red Bull and Mercedes. The weather also could play a role, as rain has been forecast on Sunday.
Verstappen’s teammate Pierre Gasly also benefited from Ferrari’s issue going fourth. The Frenchman four-tenths off Verstappen building on his strong weekend at Silverstone. While Kimi Raikkonen led the midfield group, putting his Alfa Romeo fifth ahead of Romain Grosjean.
Hamilton said, “I’m not really sure what happened to the Ferraris, but it’s such an important race for us, our second home Grand Prix, and 125 years of motor racing, so it’s incredible to celebrate in this way.”
“We’ve brought some upgrades this weekend, and the car has felt really good. Ferrari have been really fast this weekend, and I think they’ve been on a slightly different level.”
Verstappen added “I started quite conservatively in Q1, and towards Q3 I was losing a bit of grip, but I’m happy to be in the front row and anything is possible tomorrow. I went a little bit wide and bottomed out to lose the rear, but it’s a good result.”
Hockenheim was always going to be a very close fight in the midfield, with seventh to seventeenth all being within a second. An example of that was McLaren, Carlos Sainz seven and teammate Lando Norris sixteenth, but on paper there was only two tenths between them.
Sergio Perez was eighth a tenth ahead of the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg. Hulkenberg’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo was not far behind, but as is the midfield it was a very competitive as always, meaning he could only manage thirteenth.
Antonio Giovinazzi, Kevin Magnussen and Ricciardo missing out by three hundredths of a second to get through into Q3. But they will get the benefit of starting on whichever tyre they want to for the race.
Daniil Kvyat was fourteenth for Toro Rosso ahead of Lance Stroll, who ended his long run of Q1 eliminations, only to finish bottom of the order in Q2.
Without Vettel’s drama, Lando Norris was the biggest surprise of Q1. The McLaren driver appearing to compromise Alex Albon, as he struggled for grip meaning the England-born drivers start sixteenth and seventeenth respectively.
The Williams drivers were the slowest of all, George Russell winning this year’s head to heads after lapping just over a tenth quicker than Robert Kubica.