Vettel scores home pole at Hockenheim

Sebastian Vettel achieved his 55th career pole position in Formula 1 with a brilliant Q3 lap at Hockenheim. As for his title rival, Lewis Hamilton was only P15 after stopping with a hydraulic problem in Q1.

The Ferrari driver held pole position after the first runs in Q3, with all drivers on the ultrasofts compound, but faced a challenge from the remaining Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas on the second runs.

Bottas briefly claimed pole position with a lap of one minute, 11.416 seconds, helped by a mighty run through the final sector, the stadium section.

But Vettel, who was faster in the first two sectors before losing a quarter of a second to Bottas in the final sector, did enough to take pole by 0.204 seconds on his final lap.

Kimi Raikkonen was third in the other Ferrari, 0.335 seconds off his team-mate, having again looked like a potential threat for pole position.

The Iceman made a mistake at Turn 12 on his first run that cost around three tenths after he hit the inside kerb, then couldn’t quite find the pace on his second run.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was fourth, just under three tenths behind Raikkonen, and benefitted from the absence of Hamilton.

Hamilton was ordered to stop on his second Q1 run after losing gear selection, which followed immediately after he ran wide in Turn 1.

In rejoining, he struck the rumble strip at the exit of the corner, which kicked the car up and appeared to cause the problem that manifested itself on the run to Turn 2 – although he reportedly subsequently said the problem had appeared before this moment.

Hamilton attempted to get the car back to the pits but eventually stopped at Turn 10 after being ordered to do so by the team.

Currently P15 thanks to setting a time good enough to escape Q1 before the problem, he will move up a place thanks to Daniel Ricciardo’s penalties – subject to incurring any grid drops himself.

The Haas duo of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean locked out the third row with fifth and sixth, with the lead Renault of Nico Hulkenberg missing out on splitting the pair by 0.016 seconds.

The second Renault of Carlos Sainz was eighth, ahead of the Sauber of Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez’s Force India.

Fernando Alonso was quickest of those eliminated in Q2 in P11, with a gap of six tenths to Perez ahead in that segment of qualifying.

That put him ahead of Williams driver Sergey Sirotkin, who posted the team’s best qualifying result since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in P12.

Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson was P13 and slowest of those to set a time in Q2 after causing a nine-minute red flag period when he spun into the gravel at the Turn 13 left-hander.

Ericsson was able to dig himself out of the gravel, but in doing so pulled it onto the track and led to the session being stopped two minutes later.

After his second run, the Sauber driver suggested that he lost grip on his final qualifying attempt and speculated he might have sustained some minor damage when he hit a kerb.

Esteban Ocon was bumped into the drop zone late in Q1 when Force India teammate Perez improved on his second push lap on his second set of ultrasofts.

Ocon went into qualifying with only one dry free practice session under his belt, having sat out FP1 to allow Nicholas Latifi to drive then been hit by rain in FP3.

Toro Rosso pair Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley were P17 and P18, separated by three-tenths of a second.

Lance Stroll was P19, while Stoffel Vandoorne’s troubled weekend continued as he brought up the rear, two tenths slower than the Williams driver.

So a perfect qualifying result for Sebastian Vettel. Pole position in front of his home crowd. His 55th in Formula 1 and Ferrari’s 218 in P1. With title rival Lewis Hamilton near the back, this play into the hands of Vettel to score big in the championship race.

Qualifying positions, German Grand Prix:

1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m11.212s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m11.416s
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m11.547s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1m11.822s
5 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m12.200s
6 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m12.544s
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m12.560s
8 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m12.692s
9 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 1m12.717s
10 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m12.774s
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 1m13.657s
12 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 1m13.702s
13 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m13.736s
14 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes –
15 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1m13.720s
16 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1m13.749s
17 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 1m14.045s
18 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1m14.206s
19 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 1m14.401s
20 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault –

4 thoughts to “Vettel scores home pole at Hockenheim”

  1. German Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by

    There was talk of thunderstorms during qualifying for the German Grand Prix. But the main cloud on Lewis Hamilton’s horizon was a hydraulic issue which saw him grind to a halt in Q1, with the British driver forced to watch on as his main title rival Sebastian Vettel took a commanding pole in front of a delighted home crowd.

    It was an immense lap from the German, putting him 0.2s ahead of second-placed man Valtteri Bottas in the sister Mercedes. Vettel’s Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen was third, having out-paced Vettel in both the Q1 and Q2 segments. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was fourth ahead of the leading midfield Haas pairing of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean.

    The Renaults of Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz were also paired up in P7 and P8, ahead of the Sauber of Charles Leclerc, with the Monegasque again impressing to make it into Q3. The Force India of Sergio Perez completed the top 10, the Mexican having taken advantage of some notable absences at the head of the field, chiefly Daniel Ricciardo – whose raft of penalties will see him start Sunday’s race from the back of the grid – and the stricken Hamilton.

    Weather was the main topic of conversation ahead the qualifying hour, following the washed-out FP3 session that saw Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson head the timesheets for Sauber. However, the field started Q1 on dry tyres and stayed on them throughout, with track temperatures of around 38 Celsius and rising seeing the tarmac drying quickly – disappointing for a few drivers who had hoped to use the rain to their advantage.

    So who were the big winners and losers from qualifying? Here’s how the three segments unfolded.

    As running got underway, all the drivers hit the track shod with purple-walled ultrasoft Pirellis. Hamilton’s exit was undoubtedly the big talking point of Q1. After posting the fifth fastest time, the British driver crawled to a halt on the circuit with a loss of hydraulic pressure. It was heartbreak for Hamilton, who was seen trying to push his Mercedes back to safety, before kneeling disconsolately next to it. Replays had shown him bouncing over the kerbs at Turn 1, although Hamilton believed the issue was present before that off-track excursion.

    He was forced to watch on as his Ferrari rivals topped the session, with Raikkonen fastest ahead of Vettel and his Mercedes team mate Bottas. The drivers to drop out of Q1 were the Force India of Esteban Ocon, the Toro Rosso pairing of Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley, the Williams of Lance Stroll and finally the McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne, who has now finished last in every dry session of the weekend so far. It’s worth noting, however, that some of the above were hurt by the yellow flags flying late on for Hamilton’s wounded Mercedes.

    The big heroes of Q1 were Grosjean, who wound up P4 in his Haas, Leclerc who was sixth for Sauber and Sirotkin, who gave Williams something to smile about by sneaking through to Q2 in P15.

    A red flag was the dominant feature of Q2, which was flown after Marcus Ericsson backed his Sauber into – and then out of – the gravel trap at the Turn 13 Sachskurve. With both Hamilton and Ricciardo not contesting the session, several drivers had the opportunity to reach the rarefied air of Q3 when the track went green.

    Bottas ended the segment in P1 ahead of Verstappen and the Ferraris of Raikkonen and Vettel. Haas once again confirmed their midfield-dominating one-lap pace, with Magnussen and Grosjean P5 and P6 ahead of the Renault of Hulkenberg. Lerclerc impressed to go P8 and once again into Q3, Sainz was P9 in the sister Renault while Perez would have been pleased to go P10 for Force India.

    The three drivers who joined Ricciardo and Hamilton in the Q2 relegation zone were the McLaren of Fernando Alonso, the Williams of Sirotkin and finally the red-flag initiator Ericsson.

    As the lights went green for Q3, the shoot-out seemed set to be between the two Ferraris of Raikkonen and Vettel and the Mercedes of Bottas, with FP2 leader Verstappen in with an outside chance in his tight Sector 3-loving Red Bull.

    Raikkonen was the first man to pull the trigger, but Bottas immediately shot back an answer with a final sector that left his Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff open-mouthed – while leaving the Finn, briefly, on provisional pole. Behind Bottas, however, Vettel was turning the timing sectors purple, and as he crossed the line, the German crowd rose to their feet to herald a truly imperious lap of 1m 11.212s, the circuit’s outright lap record. It was Vettel’s first pole in Hockenheim since 2010, and the 55th of his F1 career.

    Although the plaudits went to Vettel, it was once again a staggering performance from Leclerc to put his Sauber right in amongst the midfield battle, lining up behind Verstappen and the paired up Haas – it was Magnussen’s best-ever qualifying – and Renault drivers, but in front of Perez’s Force India.

    Looking ahead, it will be fascinating to watch Hamilton – who will start 13th assuming no penalties for power unit or gearbox changes – and Ricciardo – who will start from the back – battling through the field in tomorrow’s race. But Vettel knows that, with that scorcher of a lap, he’s well and truly got the psychological higher ground heading into Sunday.

  2. Nico Rosberg “worried” by unusual Lewis Hamilton body language after his ex-Mercedes teammate was forced to retire in qualifying. has the news story.

    Ex-Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg says Lewis Hamilton’s despair at the problem that ruled him out of German Grand Prix qualifying was something he’d “never seen” from the Briton.

    A long-time rival and former friend of Hamilton, Rosberg was the reigning champion’s teammate at Mercedes between 2013 and 2016 before retiring from the sport.

    Hamilton is currently locked in a title battle with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and his title defence suffered a blow at Hockenheim as he was forced to pull over with a loss of hydraulic pressure at the end of the first qualifying segment.

    The Mercedes driver is set to start 14th, pending any possible grid penalties resulting from the failure.

    This latest setback, which follows on from a terminal car issue in the Austrian Grand Prix and a hit from Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen at the opening lap at Silverstone, left Hamilton disconsolate as he desperately tried to get his car to the pits before kneeling in despair next to the stricken W09.

    “This is something I’m a bit worried about,” Rosberg said while working in his pundit role at Sky Sports. “I’ve never seen that body language from him before.

    “We saw it for the first time at Silverstone, and now again for a very long time there – disbelief, or something.

    “Of course it’s tough but this is a new body language, I’ve never seen that from Lewis.”

    With Hamilton absent, Vettel duly took pole position, beating the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas with a last-gasp effort.

    “This is such a huge setback,” Rosberg continued, “because Vettel is out there, the car is flying, he is odds-on favourite to win the race, and Lewis again has to start from somewhere back.

    “So that’s going to be a very difficult day tomorrow for him.”

    The failure on the W09 occurred shortly after Hamilton went off-track at speed at Turn 1 and bounced over the kerbs, which is what Rosberg pinpointed as the likely culprit for the stoppage.

    “To me it looked like he made a mistake at Turn 1, went really wide, and he had some big, big hits because he was off the track there, and right after that the problem started.

    “So I think probably the gearbox broke with those big, big impacts, and that’s it.”

    However, speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live after his session concluded, Hamilton insisted the off had nothing to do with the problem, saying: “No, I think it failed before then.”

  3. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton believes hydraulics failed before his Turn 1 off during qualifying. has the details.

    Lewis Hamilton believes his hydraulics had failed before he ran wide at Turn 1 during qualifying for the German Grand Prix.

    Although a heavy clout across the kerbs on the exit initially appeared to have caused the hydraulic issues that stopped him during Q1 to leave him 14th on the grid, the world champion says his steering had already lost power on the entry.

    Asked by Sky if the kerb strike had caused the problem, Hamilton said: “No, we use the kerb the same every lap. We got to the kerb and just before the kerb the steering broke, so that was the issue.”

    Despite coming from the back of the field to finish second at Silverstone a fortnight ago, the Briton is not convinced a repeat charge is on the cards this time out.

    “At a track like this not really, no,” he said. “This is one of the worst ones for overtaking. I will do what I can from there.”

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff suspected that Hamilton’s hydraulics had broken after he hit the kerb, but he was awaiting a full investigation by the team once they had the car back.

    “The issue was that we seem to have damaged a bit on the car jumping over the kerb and that caused an hydraulic leak, but the car is just coming back so we need to check whether that was really the case,” Wolff told Sky.

    “Then, obviously we are not good enough on pace to make it onto pole.”

    Although Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas was able to secure a spot on the front row of the grid, Wolff said Mercedes was lacking against Ferrari on both the car and engine front.

    “It was a mega lap, particularly the last sector,” he said. “He put it all together but it was at the moment not good enough performance wise. We just need to get the car and the engine on to a higher level.

    “At the moment we are losing on the straights but I don’t want to sound sore about it. We just need to improve.”

  4. Fernando Alonso says his McLaren team needs to conduct a “deep investigation” into the lack of downforce affecting his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne.

    Vandoorne, who is yet to outqualify Alonso in 2018, has been well off his teammate’s pace in the past two grand prix weekends.

    The Belgian said his MCL33 was “undriveable” at Silverstone and endured his “worst Friday” at Hockenheim, before finishing dead last in the first segment of German Grand Prix qualifying.

    Alonso, who will line up 11th on the grid at Hockenheim, has now backed his teammate and called for the Woking-based outfit to solve the issue.

    “I think he’s doing what he can,” Alonso said of Vandoorne. “Definitely the last two races it seems that car has some kind of performance issue, and there are clear signs on the data that there is less downforce on that car.

    “We’ve been changing some parts, and we need to go deep into that investigation because with both cars close to the points is always a little bit easier.”

    Speaking after qualifying, Vandoorne described the predicament as “very disappointing” and “hard to accept”.

    He also said: “I think the situation is the same as Silverstone. Since we hit the ground in Silverstone, we were by far the last car and it turned out the same today.

    “I can’t really tell anything more. It’s frustrating. We changed a lot of parts on the car and it still doesn’t work.

    “Definitely I didn’t forget how to drive a car. But the cars are in a similar spec, it’s just that we can see an issue on the car.

    “We’ve changed over a lot of parts already and at the moment we don’t really have a solution to just make it work normally.”

    Vandoorne said McLaren broke curfew overnight to make changes to his MCL33, but admitted that “we’re not really moving forward”.

    Asked whether the problem could be addressed through set-up changes, he said: “It’s not linked to the set-up at all. It’s something on the car that doesn’t work.

    “We’ve almost changed everything on the car. We see the problem on the data. Right now we don’t have a solution.”

    While Vandoorne’s misery continued, Alonso’s 11th-place effort was McLaren’s best qualifying since the French Grand Prix – but with Lewis Hamilton’s hydraulics failure and Daniel Ricciardo’s grid penalty aiding his grid position, the Spaniard reckoned McLaren was no more competitive than in prior races.

    “I think it’s been a similar performance. We were P13 [at Silverstone] and today without the Hamilton and Ricciardo issues we were P13, so I think we are more or less in the same position.

    “But on Sundays normally we score some points and we are alive thanks to that in the championship and tomorrow we plan to do the same, to score a couple of points and keep fighting.”


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