Nurburgring Qualifying: Hamilton trumps local hero Vettel, shocker for Rosberg

Lewis Hamilton on his way to pole position for the German GP

Lewis Hamilton on his way to pole position for the German GP

It was a bittersweet afternoon for Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton stormed to pole position for the German Grand Prix, to become the first driver to do so since 1954 for the Silver Arrows on home soil, while Nico Rosberg failed to make it into Q3 as his team got the maths all wrong when it mattered.

Hamilton’s pole, his second in the space of a week, came after couple of tough free practice sessions for the Briton who struggled to find the sweet spot. But in qualifying he always looked likely and he delivered a brilliant final lap – 1:29.398 - which knocked the other local hero, Sebastian Vettel, off top spot.

Hamilton said afterwards, “It’s really overwhelming. I’ve been struggling since the first run in P1. It was pretty good. P2 and P3 were disasters and it got worse this morning. I wasn’t comfortable with the car at all. We went back to [the team] truck, tried to analyse everything and made lots of changes and hoped it would work. Fortunately the car was beneath me and I was able to put [in] the times. I’m grateful to the guys and all the hard work they put in.”

Pole winner Lewis Hamilton celebrates pole position at Nurburgring

Pole winner Lewis Hamilton celebrates pole position at Nurburgring

It was a case of joy on the one side of the Mercedes pit and total disappointment on the other. Rosberg had been looking good all weekend long and the smart money was on him to do the business in qualifying. But his Q2 time was short by a fraction, and when he should have been pounding in a banker lap he was in the pit garage.  A bad call by his crew.

“It was quite a shock really. I didn’t see it coming. The team didn’t expect the track to ramp up that much. It really is a big disappointment. Unbelievable. I can’t believe I’m standing here. We just didn’t judge it correctly,” reflected Rosberg, clearly disappointed to be heading off for an early shower when pole for his home race was very realistic. He will start from 11th on the grid.

After FP3 Vettel was over half a second up on his closest rival and was undoubtedly the pre-qualifying favourite and duly did what he could by topping the timing screens until Hamilton snatched glory away with his scorcher.

“”Congratulations to Lewis – he did a great job. It was quite close, and I tried everything I had. The car felt fine, even after we struggled a little bit this morning. But we are much closer to them here than we were in Silverstone. We have made some progress and are confident for tomorrow. We’ve done our homework and now it’s up to us – we are on the front row. It wasn’t quite enough for pole position but I am looking forward to tomorrow,” said Vettel who will start from second place as he sets out to win his home grand prix for the first time in his career.

Sebastian Vettel was second fastest

Sebastian Vettel was second fastest

Mark Webber, who won the last time out at Nurburgring in 2011, looked strong all session long and when the chips were down in Q3 was a candidate for pole too. Nevertheless with the third best time he heads up the second row and starts on the clean side of the circuit.

“Not sure what happened, but we’re happy to be where I am. It was very sensitive as Lewis wasn’t comfortable [this morning]. I might have lost some time in the first sector. It’s pulled everyone together a little bit. We are happy with the car in long runs, and we’re in a good position tomorrow,” said Webber.

With the weather improving (getting hotter) Lotus and Ferrari suddenly became a major factor in proceedings.

Thus it was no surprise to see the Lotus duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean fourth and fifth, who will be quietly optimistic knowing that they have good race pace, coupled to their ability to look after the Pirelli rubber. They will fancy their chances should conditions remain the same or get even hotter.

Mark Webber was third fastest

Mark Webber was third fastest

Matching his heroics a week earlier at Silverstone was Daniel Ricciardo who qualified sixth in the Toro Rosso, the young Aussie really pushing forward his case for a seat in the senior Red Bull team while his teammate Jean Eric Vergne has struggled to match him since Webber made public his plans to depart F1.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of qualifying, particularly the final Q3 session was Ferrari’s decision to sacrifice a better grid position with an eye on optimising their strategy for the race.

Felipe Massa was quickest in both Q1 and Q2, while Fernando Alonso showed handy pace in Q2. But in Q3 they both bolted on white banded Medium tyres and the pair will share the fourth row, with Massa seventh and Alonso eighth. Maranello’s sights are obviously on the bigger picture. An interesting call from the Reds.

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali explained, “We took a decision thinking only [of] the race. Anyway we’ve a competitive car, as you can see from Q2 results.”

Kimi Raikkonen will start from fourth on the grid

Kimi Raikkonen will start from fourth on the grid

Also bolting on a set of Mediums, but not doing a timed lap in the session was Jenson Button in the McLaren who will start from ninth.

Nico Hulkenberg was again punching above his weight as he manhandled the Sauber into Q3, but then did not do a lap in anger in the final session, to keep an extra set of tyres for the race.

Apart from Rosberg’s shocker, it was also unexpected to see the Force India pair so ineffective as conditions got warmer. Paul di Resta was quicker than teammate Adrian Sutil, but they did not make it beyond Q2 and will start 12th and 15th respectively.

Sergio Perez, who until Germany, had the measure of Button simply lacked the pace to match his more experienced McLaren teammate and will start 13th.

Felipe Massa was fastest of the Ferrari drivers

Felipe Massa was fastest of the Ferrari drivers

It was a sad 600th race weekend for Williams as neither of their drivers progressed beyond Q1. Rookie Valtteri Bottas out-qualified Pastor Maldonado, they will start from 17th and 18th on the grid.

Final word to pole winner Hamilton, “It’s a privilege to drive for this team, they’ve got great history, this is where Mercedes really started. I’m proud to get pole but there are no points for today. These guys [Red Bull] are good on the long runs. I hope ,with my new set up, that the pace will be as good and we can given them a run for their money.”

German Grand Prix, Qualifying – Saturday, 6 July 2013 

Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:31.131 1:30.152 1:29.398 14
2 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:31.269 1:29.992 1:29.501 14
3 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:31.428 1:30.217 1:29.608 14
4 7 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:30.676 1:29.852 1:29.892 15
5 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:31.242 1:30.005 1:29.959 16
6 19 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:31.081 1:30.223 1:30.528 16
7 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:30.547 1:29.825 1:31.126 17
8 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:30.709 1:29.962 1:31.209 15
9 5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:31.181 1:30.269 16
10 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:31.132 1:30.231 13
11 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:31.322 1:30.326 10
12 14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:31.322 1:30.697 18
13 6 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:31.498 1:30.933 16
14 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:31.681 1:31.010 17
15 15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:31.320 1:31.010 15
16 18 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:31.629 1:31.104 12
17 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:31.693 8
18 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:31.707 6
19 20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1:32.937 8
20 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:33.063 9
21 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:33.734 8
22 23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:34.098 9
Q1 107% Time 1:36.885
  • realf1fan

    Truly the fastest in F1, unfortunately Red Bulls race pace will be to much for Lewis and the W04.

  • earlcee7

    Not so @realf1fan, the W04 now has race pace to match the Bulls: check out Silverstone when Lewis was actually pulling away frm Vettel until tht tyre incident… Intresting to see whether Rosberg will storm thru th pack like Lewis did last Sunday

  • realf1fan

    @ earlcee7

    The long runs in practice showed Red Bull with the better race pace, and at Silverstone we will never know how Lewis would have done after the tire blow out after just 8 laps. Rocky Vettel’s race engineer told Vettel to look after his tires so i don’t think Vettel was pushing in the early laps hence Lewis pulling out a 2 sec gap.

    Hope i am wrong though as F1 needs a fast race pace Lewis to go along with the 1 lap speedking .

  • Sunshine117

    OMG! What happened to Rosberg??? Did not go to plan, he will struggle from 11th, might gain a place or two but no podium I don’t think. Good on Ricciardo for 6th place but I think he will be easy bait for the two Ferrari’s behind him, it will only be a matter of time, But he could still finish with some points though.
    I’m not sure where this race will go, it’s kinda awesome, has potential to be a ripper race! Silverstone was a great race, finally a race that wasn’t easily won by Vettel. Although, it did look that it was until he lost drive. I’m thinking Alonso and Vettel will fight for first place in this one. Alonso will have a great strategy behind him and will possibly be in the top 4 by the 2nd lap with his great starts. Webber will most likely have a poor start (As usual) get stuck behind a Renault and come home in 4th or there around about. Kimi…I’m hoping he is up there fighting but who knows? Hamilton will hold off for the first 15-20 laps but surely lose places, most likly to the Ferrari’s and Renault’s.
    But who knows right? Should be a great race!

    My Race Predictions
    1st: Vettel
    2nd: Raikkonen
    3rd: Alonso
    4th:Webber
    5th: Massa
    6th: Hamilton
    7th: Ricciardo
    8th: Rosberg
    9th: Di Resta
    10th: Button

  • Jetpack

    Sunshine117 you really expect the Mercs to fall back that much? Clearly you still think the current W04 is the same car that raced in Spain-I expect Vettel to be strong but Lewis 6th? Lets wait and see..

  • KC

    “Truly the fastest in F1″

    Truly, the W04 is the fastest car in F1 over a lap. All Vettel’s poles this season have come in the wet, when it’s dry the W04 is untouchable.

  • KC

    “check out Silverstone when Lewis was actually pulling away frm Vettel until tht tyre incident…”

    Actually he wasn’t. The gap was about 2.2 secs and decreasing slowly.

  • Sunshine117

    I may have underestimated Hamilton a tad, I just think the Red Bull’s and Ferrari’s a much stronger when it comes to race pace. The silver arrows are fast over the 1 Lap with only a few laps of fuel in them yeah of course, but with a full tank the others have the edge. You all saw how fast Webber was Catching Rosberg in Silverstone, a few more laps and Rosberg was 2nd.
    But who knows? Hamilton may run away with it? It’s just what I think may happen? For all I know a Force India could come up trumps?
    Honestly, I would love it if Webber won. Cos I’m an Aussie and this is his last season and all. But I know as much as everyone else how poor his starts are. He has strong finishes but it’s always too late.

    I would like to hear all your predictions, lets hear em.

  • Sunshine117

    It’s a bit of fun, plus I like talking about the races.

  • Arnab

    My predictions for today’s race

    1st : Alonso/Vettel
    2nd : Vettel/Alonso
    3rd : Hamilton
    4th : Webber
    5th : Massa
    6th : Raikkonen
    7th : Rosberg
    8th : Grosjean
    9th : Ricciardo
    10th : Di Resta

    Remember Rosberg too has the privelege and most probably will start on the mediums. He can be even further up.
    Oh yes, if massa can start like he did in silverstone, then who knows..may be aferrari 1-2.. ;)

  • Sunshine117

    Geez, I wasn’t far off…If Grosjean and Alonso were the other way around I would have had the top three nailed. oh and ‘jetpack’, I was right about the Silver Arrows, just not having the pace, I guessed Hamilton in 6th he came 5th, and Rosberg 8th and he came in 9th. So I wasn’t that far off…Are you gonna give it to me though?
    All in all, I’m pretty happy with my pre race predictions actually.

    I feel sorry for Webber, and the camera man his wheel took out…OUCH!! But a decent drive, from last place to 7th, that’s a great effort. Without that wheel falling off I think Webber might have threatened Vettel for the win. But hay, that’s F1 for ya!
    What a race!!! What did you guys think???