Bottas takes pole position at the Nürburgring

Valtteri Bottas scored his third pole position of the season at the Nürburgring, beating his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton while Nico Hulkenberg qualified last.

Mercedes maintained its perfect record in qualifying so far in 2020, but faced strong competition from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who had topped Q1 and was just adrift of Hamilton at the head of the times in Q2.

Verstappen even led the way after the first runs in Q3, but Bottas rise to the challenge as the Mercedes drivers fired back on their second efforts.

Bottas ended up with the fastest middle sector on his final lap, a one minute, 25.269 seconds, which put him clear by 0.256 seconds as he shuffled Hamilton down to second, with the world champion ending up with the fastest time in the final sector.

Verstappen started his final lap with the quickest sector one time, but he faded as the lap wore on and he wound up 0.293 seconds adrift of pole.

Both Verstappen and Hamilton went slower in Q3 compared to their laps in the middle segment.

Charles Leclerc stunned Alex Albon to take fourth for Ferrari, with the Red Bull driver knocked down to fifth as a result.

All the leading cars will start Sunday’s race on the softs Pirelli, despite the Mercedes and Ferrari cars, and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, experimenting with the medium tyres early in Q2.

Ricciardo qualified sixth in Q3 ahead of his teammate Esteban Ocon, with Lando Norris qualifying eighth ahead of Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz.

Leclerc’s late improvement to set the fifth fastest time in Q1 knocked out his Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel, who set a personal best on his final lap in the middle segment but wound up being shuffled down to P11.

Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat also improved on their final runs in Q2, but they were both knocked out in P12 and P13, while a last-gasp lap from Antonio Giovinazzi gave him P14 for Alfa Romeo ahead of Haas driver Kevin Magnussen.

In Q1, Hulkenberg, who was always due to travel to the Nurburgring on Saturday to work for German broadcaster RTL before his late call-up to replace the unwell Stroll ahead of qualifying, was out early to learn the track in the Canadian’s RP20.

He completed a run of several laps on the softs as soon as the opening segment got under way and spent most of the session at the foot of the times, although he was briefly able to move up to P19 ahead of the final runs in Q1.

Hulkenberg’s final lap featured a deep moment at the first corner and brief lock ups on the right front and left front respectively at Turn 6 – the right-hander that runs down towards the hairpin – and on the approach to the final chicane.

He set a personal best but lost time in the final sector and wound up last, 0.204 seconds slower than Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Romain Grosjean missed the cut after having his best lap of the session – a one minute, 27.118 seconds – deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 4 in the shadow of the Mercedes grandstand that overlooks the corner and Turn 1.

The Haas driver was able to set another time in the closing moments but was shuffled down and out ahead of the Williams pair George Russell and Nicholas Latifi, as they finished P17 and P18.

So congratulations to Valtteri Bottas with pole. After winning the Russian Grand Prix, the momentum is looking good for Bottas. Bring on the racing action!

Qualifying positions, Eifel Grand Prix:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:25.269
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:25.525
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:25.562
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:26.035
5 Alex Albon Red Bull Racing-Honda 1:26.047
6 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:26.223
7 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:26.242
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:26.458
9 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:26.704
10 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:26.709
11 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:26.738
12 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:26.776
13 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:26.848
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:26.936
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:27.125
16 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:27.552
17 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:27.564
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:27.812
19 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:27.817
20 Nico Hulkenberg Racing Point-Mercedes 1:28.021

5 thoughts to “Bottas takes pole position at the Nürburgring”

  1. Eifel Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Mercedes continued their 100% pole position record for 2020 at the Eifel Grand Prix. But unlike the last five Grands Prix, it was Russian GP winner Valtteri Bottas rather than Lewis Hamilton who took P1 this time, ending up 0.256s ahead of his team mate – while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen secured his near-traditional P3 slot on the grid, but just 0.037s off Hamilton.

    One of the biggest stories coming into qualifying was the news that a sick Lance Stroll would be replaced for the rest of the weekend by Nico Hulkenberg at Racing Point, the German having been in town to do some broadcast work before getting the call up to drive ahead of the session. There’d be no fairy-tale result for Hulkenberg, alas, as he ended up 20th and last, albeit a respectable 1.7s off the pace in Q1.

    At the sharp end, meanwhile, the three qualifying sectors saw three different leaders, Verstappen in Q1 and Hamilton in Q2, before a storming final effort from Bottas in Q3 gave him his third pole of the season – and the 14th of his career – the Finn setting three purple sectors to nail P1.

    Ferrari brought performance-related upgrades to the floor and bargeboards of their SF1000 this weekend. And it was Charles Leclerc who used them to best effect, taking an excellent P4 on the grid as team mate Sebastian Vettel could only manage P11.

    Leclerc was ahead of the second Red Bull of Alex Albon in P5, while Daniel Ricciardo took sixth for Renault, having looked in good form all through Saturday – the first day to see any running at the Nurburgring, after Friday’s slew of session cancellations.

    Rounding out the top 10 came the second Renault of Esteban Ocon in P7, with the McLarens of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz eighth and 10th, sandwiching Sergio Perez in the second Racing Point – the Mexican taking P9 on his first qualifying session in the updated RP20.

    Q1 – Verstappen goes quickest as Hulkenberg drops out early

    Unsurprisingly, Nico Hulkenberg made a dash for the track when the pit exit light showed green at the start of Q1, Racing Point’s super sub keen to get back up to speed with the RP20 vacated by an ill Lance Stroll – Hulkenberg having been confirmed to drive in the hour leading up to qualifying.

    With Friday having witnessed no running, Hulkenberg had effectively only missed one hour of FP3 action. But some understandably scruffy laps from the German as he got up to speed meant that he qualified last of all, 1.702s off Max Verstappen’s leading time in the segment.

    READ MORE: ‘It was even crazier than last time!’ – Hulkenberg describes mad dash to Nurburgring for latest sub appearance

    Also out went Romain Grosjean in P16 – the Frenchman having had a lap deleted for track limit infringements – followed by the Williams pairing of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi, the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen and Hulkenberg.

    Verstappen headed the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas by 0.254s, the Finn a further half a tenth up from Lewis Hamilton, as McLaren’s Lando Norris and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top five.

    Antonio Giovinazzi secured his first Q2 appearance of the year for Alfa Romeo, while both Ferraris continued their promising FP3 form, as Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel finished in the top 10, in P6 and P9. But how high could both drivers climb in the remaining two segments?

    Knocked out: Grosjean, Russell, Latifi, Raikkonen, Latifi

    Q2 – Vettel drops out in front of his home crowd as Hamilton tops the session

    Both Mercedes, both Ferraris and Renault’s Ricciardo opted to head out for their first Q2 laps on mediums – perhaps more to get some understanding of the yellow-walled rubber than with serious thoughts of making it through the segment on the medium tyre in the frigid conditions, with track temperatures at just 17 degrees C.

    The experiment was called off in the final Q2 runs, everyone switching to softs for their fastest laps. Hamilton stopped the clocks quickest of all with a 1m 25.390s, but Verstappen was just 0.077s further back – the fight between those two looking tasty ahead of Q3 – while Bottas was half a second off Hamilton in third, having failed to put a clean lap together.

    Despite Ferrari’s promising Q1, only Leclerc could book himself a berth in Q3 (and in P5 no less), Vettel ending up half a second off his team mate in 11th, ahead of the AlphaTauri pair of Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat, Giovinazzi and Haas’s Kevin Magnussen in P15.

    Ricciardo’s confidence in going out in the mediums, meanwhile, was backed up by an impressive lap on softs, as he wound up fourth, 0.706s off Hamilton and ahead of Leclerc and the second Red Bull of Alex Albon in sixth. For Vettel, though, it was the seventh straight failure to make Q3 – and would have hurt all the more with German fans watching on in the grandstands this weekend.

    Knocked out: Vettel, Gasly, Kvyat, Giovinazzi, Magnussen

    Q3 – Bottas takes third pole of the season as Leclerc stars in P4

    The first flying laps of Q3 made for tasty viewing indeed, Verstappen lapping fastest, 0.068s and 0.081s ahead of Bottas and Hamilton respectively – although his 1m 25.744s was slower than he’d managed in Q2.

    Could he really do it – could Verstappen use all the chaos and uncertainty seen so far this Nurburgring weekend to knock Mercedes off their pole position perch? He could not. Although the Dutchman’s final effort saw him improve by a useful two-tenths, by now the Mercedes were into their groove.

    Hamilton was the first of the frontrunners across the line for his final effort, claiming provisional pole with a 1m 25.525s. Behind though, the timing screens next to Bottas’ name were a sea of purple, the Finn finally looking hooked up in qualifying.

    He duly crossed the line with a 1m 25.269s to take pole by a comfortable 0.256s from Hamilton – unsurprisingly establishing a new track record at the Nurburgring – while Verstappen then slotted into P3 with his improved effort.

    If Bottas had starred in qualifying, though, so too had Leclerc, as he used Ferrari’s upgrades for the weekend to take a fine P4 ahead of Alex Albon in the second Red Bull, the pair closely matched at around 0.77s off the pace.

    Daniel Ricciardo may have been slightly disappointed not to be amongst those two, as he wound up narrowly ahead of team mate Esteban Ocon, the two Renaults P6 and P7 – while having struggled with his MCL35 throughout qualifying, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz could only take P10, 1.440s off the pace, and behind team mate Lando Norris in eighth and Sergio Perez in ninth.

    So, it looks like we’re set for another tight fight between the Mercedes, who’ve got a racy looking Max Verstappen for company to boot, and maybe even a Ferrari that can challenge. The action at the Nurburgring’s wide, wide Turn 1 is bound to be well worth a watch on Sunday.

  2. Nico Hulkenberg is back in the hot seat once again at Racing Point following the news that Lance Stroll feeling unwell. Hulkenberg admitted that the Eifel Grand Prix return aas “wilder, crazier” than Silverstone. Motorsport.com has the full story.

    Nico Hulkenberg says his last-minute return to the Racing Point Formula 1 team at the Eifel GP was “wilder and crazier” than when he stood in at Silverstone earlier this year.

    Hulkenberg was called by the team on Saturday morning after regular driver Lance Stroll felt unwell.

    The German rushed to the circuit, but he wasn’t able to participate in FP3.

    Having been approved to drive by the FIA he jumped into the car for qualifying. Clearly struggling to adapt at such short notice, he locked up several times.

    He eventually had to settle for 20th and last place, but he was only two tenths shy of the Williams of Nicholas Latifi and the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen.

    Hulkenberg replaced the COVID-positive Sergio Perez at Silverstone for the British GP weekend, but had more notice on that occasion.

    He went on to qualify third on his second outing at the 70th Anniversary race at the same venue.

    “It was even wilder and crazier than last time,” he told Sky F1. “I was in Cologne, which is kind of an hour from here. I was due to come here this afternoon anyways, and I was going to do some TV stuff for RTL tomorrow.

    “I was sat with a friend having a coffee at 11am when when I see that Otmar [Szafnauer] rings me and says, ‘Hulkenberg hurry, we need you here.’ And I stepped in the car and came here.

    “And the rest is history, we saw what happened now. Obviously it’s the 2.0 return, in a moment of a heartbeat.”

    Hulkenberg pointed out that the RP20 has changed since he last drove it at the 70th Anniversary GP meeting in August.

    “It felt quite different again to Silverstone obviously, completely different circuit. The car has moved on too, there’s a couple of technical bits that are very different and give the driver a very different sensation.

    “So I had to kind of adjust around that a bit, and just find my feet again. And obviously, in four laps, that’s not so easy. But all-in-all, even though we’re last, I’m quite pleased with the laps that we’ve produced just now.

    “It still means that tomorrow is gonna be very difficult, and a hell of a challenge. But we’ll do what we can. Obviously I have the experience, the four laps in the pocket now. Those will sink in, and tomorrow we’ll just go racing and see what we get.”

  3. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen could only managed third despite setting the pace in Q1. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Max Verstappen admitted he was disappointed to lose out on pole position to Mercedes at the Eifel Grand Prix, after his final Q3 run was blighted by understeer.

    The Red Bull driver emerged as a real threat for the top spot throughout qualifying, and was quickest overall during the first run in the final segment.

    But he could not quite extract enough pace from his final effort, allowing both Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton to edge him out again as he ended up third quickest.

    Although he was happy to be closer than expected to the dominant Mercedes team, he confessed to feeling an opportunity had slipped from his grasp.

    “Yeah, it was interesting qualifying,” said Verstappen. “Of course after missing the whole of yesterday for everyone, it was very busy today.

    “Overall, I think a decent qualifying just in Q3, but when it really mattered I started understeering a bit too much. And, when it’s so cold, when you’re understeering, you’re graining the front tyres so basically eating up the rubber, which cost me a bit of lap time.

    “But overall I think we are getting closer towards Mercedes, which I think is very positive. So, in a way, a little bit disappointed. I was expecting a bit more but it is what it is. I think, overall, I can still be happy.”

    Reflecting on how the car had progressed through qualifying, Verstappen said that the understeer seemed to get worse as the session went on.

    “I don’t like understeer, but also this track when it’s so cold with the tyres, it just didn’t come towards us throughout qualifying,” he said. “In the beginning it was fine, and then it just slipped away a bit.

    “When you’re understeering, you can’t carry that mid-corner speed. You have to V-style it a bit more, and you lose a bit of time. But still, a good qualifying, to be that close to them.”

    Bottas, who set three purple sectors in his final Q3 run to snatch pole position, said his final run was ‘spot on’.

    “It’s such a nice feeling when you get it done the last lap, with the last chance, so the last lap in qualifying three was spot on,” said the Mercedes driver.

    “It was what I needed and it was nice to get it together. Pretty tricky obviously with short practice. And, with these conditions, getting the tyres in the sweet spot with the out-lap, I think was one of the bigger things today.”

  4. Championship leader Lewis Hamilton wanted to start Eifel Grand Prix on the Pirelli medium tyres. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Lewis Hamilton wanted to start the Formula 1 Eifel Grand Prix on medium tyres, but trusts Mercedes’ decision to switch him to softs during qualifying at the Nurburgring.

    Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas went out on track on the medium-compound tyre to complete their initial efforts in Q2.

    While Hamilton was able to sit second after the first runs on mediums, Bottas slumped down to eighth, putting him at risk of being eliminated without a soft tyre run.

    Mercedes opted to switch both drivers to softs for their final Q2 runs, allowing them to ease through to Q3 where Bottas beat Hamilton to pole by more than two tenths of a second.

    Asked by Motorsport.com about the thinking behind the tyre call, Hamilton revealed that he had wanted to start the race on mediums.

    “I could have got through on that tyre,” Hamilton said. “I wanted to start on it, just because I always like to do something different, but the team chose for us to both be on the same tyre.

    “We’ll see whether it was the right choice tomorrow. I’m sure it was the right choice. The other one would have been a little bit harder.”

    Bottas explained that he had struggled to get the mediums up to temperature when completing running on the compound during the sole practice session at the Nurburgring on Saturday morning.

    “When we had it, it was a pretty green track, so it was hard to get a proper read of the tyre, how it’s behaving,” Bottas said. “For me, that run was quite poor. I couldn’t get enough temperature from the out lap on the tyres. I’m happy to be on the soft.”

    Hamilton set a faster time in Q2 than he did in Q3, and admitted his runs in the final session did not feel as strong.

    “I’ll have to go back [and review the data], but definitely Q2 felt good, and when I got to Q3, it just didn’t feel good, either run, so just the grip didn’t feel the same,” Hamilton said.

    Track temperatures at the Nurburgring during qualifying reached no higher than 16ºC, making it difficult for the drivers to get their tyres up to temperature.

    Hamilton thought similar conditions in the race could make managing the front tyres a particular challenge.

    “The usual effects from the track getting colder is the front tyres usually suffer a bit more,” Hamilton said. “We generally have a bit more understeer potentially. If there’s safety cars, restarting our tyres is going to be a struggle, that’s for sure.

    “We’re all in the same boat. I don’t really know how far the tyres will go, but when it gets a bit cooler, generally they can go a bit further, because they work in a slightly different range.

    “I hope this is still exciting tomorrow somehow.”

  5. Carlos Sainz says McLaren has been left with a lot to understand about its latest Formula 1 upgrade package, after he blamed it for his disappointing performance in qualifying for the Eifel Grand Prix.

    The McLaren driver only managed to qualify 10th at the Nurburgring, after his team elected to split the aero packages across its two cars. While Sainz ran the new bits, teammate Lando Norris ended up eighth used the old parts.

    Sainz said he was far from happy with how things had been, and felt that the new package had not delivered any improvement.

    “Since FP3 I was not comfortable with the car,” he told Movistar. “I was able to improve during qualifying, but it still didn’t go very well.

    “I don’t really know what to say, because when you put new things in, you expect to go a little faster than your teammate. But as we saw with Lando in Russia, he also found it difficult to go with the new parts. We have a lot to analyse there.”

    Norris said he was glad that he wasn’t running with the new parts, simply because of the extra challenge that comes from adapting to a different concept.

    “It is more difficult just because it takes a bit of time to understand the package completely and, when you only have one practice session like we had this morning, it’s hard to work out what’s the best set-up for it and how to extract all the potential out of it,” said the Briton.

    “So that’s the difficulty with having the upgrades, and that’s what Carlos had to deal with. But I was very happy with sticking with what we knew, and it seems to have paid off. So I’m happy from my side.”

    Sainz was unsure whether the situation was made worse because the team did not get a full practice run on Friday to fine-tune the latest parts. But he said even without normal running, the new package should automatically have brought a step forward in performance.

    “There is a lot of uncertainty and we lack a lot of knowledge with this new package,” he explained. “I’m not saying it’s not better than the other one, but usually when you put something new in, you always expect to go faster.

    “This weekend I don’t know if it’s because there was no free practice on Friday or because we didn’t develop it well.”

    He added: “Many question marks at the moment. I think I did a good job of developing through qualifying and getting the car in a better window, as we were very far off in Q1. But at the moment we are very far from where we want to be.”

    Sainz said that parc ferme restrictions meant there was nothing McLaren could do to recover the situation overnight, as he braced himself for a tough race.

    “Parc ferme means we can change nothing to the car for tomorrow,” he said. “So it will be more a day of trying to make some data gathering for the engineers and everyone back home.

    “So far, you know, not very happy. It hasn’t been a very good day for me. It wasn’t a good weekend for Lando in Russia with the new package. So I don’t know. We need to double check everything.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

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