Hamilton tops Vettel for pole in Germany
Lewis Hamilton has won the pole position for tomorrow's German Grand Prix with a fantastic lap of 1m29.398s, 0.103s ahead of Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull.
The pole put a smile on the faces of Mercedes who wanted pole in front of the German fans, but German Vettel was not happy about losing the pole he held until the final seconds.
Mark Webber will start third with a time of 1m29.608s ahead of the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen who turned a lap of 1m29.892s for fifth. His teammate Romain Grosjean will start 6th making it an all-Lotus row-3.
Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso made it an all-Ferrari row-4 in seventh and eighth.
Jenson Button (ninth) didn't set a time in Q3 and Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top 10.
Hamilton's teammate Nico Rosberg, who had been quick all weekend, failed to make it into Q3 and gridded 11th for his and the team's home grand prix when the team made a tactical error that left him in the garage during the fastest time of the session.
Sebastian Vettel (2nd, 1:29.501): "Congratulations to Lewis on pole. It was very tight today, I tried everything. The car felt fine; I was struggling a little bit this afternoon in the first sector, I was losing time there and then trying to catch up. Unfortunately it wasn't enough, but it looks like we are a bit closer to the Mercedes here than we were in Silverstone, so I think we made some progress and can have confidence for tomorrow. We had a good run yesterday looking at the race, so I think we have done our homework. We have put the car on the first row; it wasn't quite enough for pole position, but we should have a good race from there tomorrow."
Mark Webber (3rd, 1:29.608): "I was actually happy with third position today, as it was very sensitive out there. We lost a little bit in the first sector and struggled to find the rhythm that we had had there in P3, but we know there was a shift in track temp and it pulled everyone together a bit, at least for the short runs. With the long runs, we're happy with the car, so we're in a good position to put pressure on for the race victory tomorrow."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "To start second and third on the grid for the German GP is obviously a very strong team performance. It was very tight for the pole position and in the end Lewis managed to produce a lap one tenth quicker than we could manage, but nonetheless it was a solid team effort today and Sebastian did his best in front of his home crowd with Mark just behind in third. Tomorrow's race will be very interesting with some different strategies going on and our focus will be to try and capitalize on our grid positions"
Thierry Salvi, Renault: "We've improved the car solidly over the weekend, working on balance and engine response out of the slower corners, while looking at the top speed for the four straights. It's gone according to plan and we feel like we've got a very good handle on all areas of engine performance round the Nürburgring. With that in mind, we thought we could edge out the Mercedes for pole, but second and third still puts us in a good position for the race so motivation and confidence remains high."
Felipe Massa (7th, 1:31.128): "In terms of performance, it was a good qualifying, even if we opted for a completely different strategy to the teams who are ahead of us on the grid. The car worked very well and with the Soft tires, we were very competitive, more so than at Silverstone, where we suffered on both compounds, but even so, we could not have ended up any higher than fourth or fifth. When I saw I was first at the end of Q1 and Q2, I felt like I wanted to fight all the way to the finish, but based on the simulation we carried out during free practice, we felt our choice was the right direction to go in. It's hard to think we will be able to make up places immediately starting on the Medium tires, but yesterday we saw that the Softs degrade after just a few laps and this could work out to our advantage. If the car handles well and we manage to have a good race, we could get a really fantastic result."
Fernando Alonso (8th, 1:31.209): "The strategy we used today was dictated by looking at our average qualifying performance, given that pole is not yet within our grasp and the two scenarios were either starting fifth or sixth on the Soft tires or start sixth or seventh on the Mediums. We won't know the true worth of our choice until tomorrow. Maybe here it's not too important to start from the front because the Soft tire shows very high degradation and so, from lap 8 onwards the run of pit stops will begin and traffic will build up. At that point we will have to push like if they were all qualifying laps. All weekend we have been off the pace by an average of six tenths, but compared to Silverstone we can say we are back to normal, capable of fighting in the lead group. Of course, we still need to improve a lot, but in the race we think we can be in the hunt, without forgetting that, regardless of the tires and the starting positions, it's the fastest who wins."
Pat Fry: "The comparison carried out yesterday between the Soft and Medium compounds opened the door to various possibilities, both for qualifying and the race and today's result is fully in line with what we had expected. The decision to tackle qualifying thinking only about our race strategy was actually dictated by the difference we saw in terms of degradation for the two types of tire. Overall, our car performance was good, even if it was affected by many factors, including the higher temperatures we saw today. Even though Felipe and Fernando were front runners in Q1 and Q2, we stuck to the choice we made at the start. We didn't feel it was a realistic target to fight for the front rows and we preferred to stick with our pace, trying a different strategy. Clearly, as always, tomorrow everything will depend on how competitive are the two F138s and how good is their pace. From one point of view, we feel that the high degradation of the Soft compound will force our rivals who are ahead of us, to make an early first stop and that traffic might then limit their pace, while we will be going for a longer first stint which should allow us to make up ground."
Jenson Button (9th, No Time): "My lap in Q2 was about as good as it's going to get for us at the moment – in fact, it was one of the best laps I've done in a very long time. I don't think I left anything out there, so I'm very happy about that. Strategically, it was a difficult decision for Q3: do we run the Option, the Prime, or do we not run at all? My heart said we should go out and set a time, whereas my head said we probably shouldn't! Our pace suggested that qualifying sixth would have made it worthwhile [to go out and set a time on the Option], and we probably could have done that – but we chose not to complete a lap, playing a cat-and-mouse game with Nico [Hulkenberg]. Nevertheless, starting ninth is not too bad – I'll be on the clean side of the grid, and I have the freedom to choose my tire compound, because I didn't set a lap time this afternoon. It'll be interesting to see what happens to the Option tire early on in the race, but I think we've put ourselves in the best possible position for tomorrow."
Sergio Perez (13th, 1:30.933): "It hasn't been the best day for us, and starting 13th wasn't what I was hoping for. Jenson did a great lap, but I've struggled all weekend to match him – especially today, when I think we went a little bit in the wrong direction. This morning, we encountered some problems with the car; perhaps we over-compensated for that, going back on the set-up, getting understeer, and finding it quite difficult to get the tires warmed up. This was a tough afternoon for me, but we can do better tomorrow. I didn't get everything out of the car today, but it's going to be very interesting to see how the tires perform in the race."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "In Q2, the fact that Jenson was four tenths from the front was encouraging, but we're still not quite where we want to be. In all likelihood, Jenson could probably have qualified sixth today; but, strategically, we chose to do what we thought was best for the race. I think we did the right thing by running Jenson into Q3: we were so close to the pack during Q2 that we considered pushing to make up a few further places. Ultimately, however, we chose a more prudent approach. Nonetheless, starting Jenson from ninth is not a bad place to be, particularly as, we suspect, the Option-runners ahead of us will have to stop quite early in the race. We had a few issues on Sergio's car this morning and I don't think we got it back to its best. He simply wasn't as comfortable as Jenson out there. I'm sure he'll be disappointed by the outcome of qualifying, but he's an exciting racer and will be charging hard in the race. We will try to hopefully get both cars into some reasonable points tomorrow."
Kimi Raikkonen (4th, 1:29.892): "My car was okay today, but in my Q3 lap on the new tires I struggled to get the fronts up to temperature which meant I lost quite a bit of time in the first sector; probably because there was traffic on my out lap meaning I couldn't push as much as I wanted. For sure it didn't help and we probably should have been P3 today, but P4 is still a pretty good place to be for the race."
Romain Grosjean (5th, 1:29.959): "P5 is a pretty good result, but to be honest I'm a little disappointed with my fastest lap as there were definitely a few tenths lost in the first sector. We struggled a little getting the front tires working this morning but the car felt really good during qualifying and we improved with every lap. It was a strong performance for the team with Kimi P4 as well, so we're happy to be back at the front after paying a few unwanted visits to the lower positions recently."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "We're reasonably happy with today's performance. Of course, you always want more and we could have got a little more from both cars in the final qualifying session as neither driver posted a good first sector. That said, with P4 and P5 on the grid, we're happy. We know that our race simulations yesterday looked good and the forecast is for high temperatures tomorrow, so I think we can look forward to having a strong race. The new rear construction with the Kevlar belt doesn't appear to be hurting our performance and we're as competitive as we thought we'd be here so we've no worries on that front. The medium compound looks to be the favored one for the race as the soft has a reasonably high performance degradation; such that we have seen Ferrari opt to start on the medium compound as their approach to managing it. It will be interesting to see how that approach works; from our side, we're pretty happy with starting on the soft."
Lewis Hamilton (1st, 1:29.398): "I'm very proud to put the car on pole for Mercedes-Benz today. I have been with Mercedes for a long time and it's a great result for us to achieve pole here in Germany. I'm a little bit overwhelmed, to be honest, because I have been struggling since first practice this weekend. We were so far off this morning that we took the set-up back to where we started, tried to analyze everything and just worked really hard to improve it. I'm so grateful for the work the engineers and mechanics did for me, and it's all down to them really. But we don't get any points for today and the real hard work comes tomorrow. It's a shame what happened to Nico this afternoon, we got caught out there but hopefully he can still have a strong race."
Nico Rosberg (11th, 1:30.326): "I was really shocked when I saw the times falling in Q2 today and realized that I was in P11. I didn't see it coming and we just underestimated how much the track would ramp up in terms of grip and lap time. I could have been on the front row today and that's why I'm so disappointed. It's been a tough day but sometimes that's how racing is. I will be doing my best to climb up through the field tomorrow but it won't be easy."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "It's a little bit of an understatement to say that we have mixed emotions after qualifying. Lewis put in a superb lap to take pole position. He hasn't been comfortable with the car since his first run yesterday but I could sense a quiet determination as he went into the session and he absolutely delivered. With Nico, we misjudged how quickly the track was improving and got caught out: he clearly had the pace to qualify at the front today but found himself on the wrong side of the top ten by half a tenth. Ultimately, the final decision on the pit wall rests with me and it's clear we could have done a better job today. For tomorrow, the only silver lining for Nico is that he has a free tire choice for the first stint, although unusually there is a real mixture of tire choices within the top ten as well. Looking at Lewis, we go into the race with some question marks, as we haven't done any representative running with the set-up we now have on the car. Hopefully, he will find the balance he needs and we will be able to give Red Bull, Ferrari and Lotus a run for their money."
Toto Wolff, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "The team is on an upward slope at the moment and we saw that with Lewis taking his second pole position in a row. But I'm super sorry for Nico. We got things wrong in Q2 and not only did he have the pace to fight for pole today but he has also been instrumental in getting the car right since yesterday. We win as a team and we take our setbacks as a team too. Decisions have to be taken and we made the wrong one this time. But tomorrow is another day and hopefully Nico can have a strong race from P11. As for Lewis, everything is open for him. He put in great qualifying laps today after some tough practice sessions. We know that it will be a hard race in the hot conditions, so let's see what we can achieve."
Nico Hulkenberg (10th, No Time): "To reach Q3 today has been a success for us. I am confident we can achieve a good result tomorrow. Compared to yesterday afternoon, we were able to improve the set-up for free practice this morning. I think we have a package now that allows us to fight for points. The long runs yesterday looked promising and, combined with the strategy which I can choose for the start of the race tomorrow, I am confident we can achieve a good result. I didn't set a time in Q3, so I am free to choose my tires for the start of the race tomorrow. I am convinced that will be an advantage. The team told me that P6 was possible today, but today it's Saturday and the race is what counts, as you only get points tomorrow. The soft tires are quite challenging to handle here, especially with a full tank. We will start in the top ten tomorrow and our goal is to stay in the points."
Esteban Gutierrez (14th, 1:31.010): "Today is a step forward for us. We worked with a lot of different set-ups yesterday and were able to make the right conclusions from the data we gathered. I was able to attack and get a lot out of the car in qualifying. However, I still have to improve. Nico did a fantastic lap and it's challenging, but I will keep working to improve my performance level, especially in qualifying. P14 is, along with Malaysia, the highest place I have achieved so far. For tomorrow we have to put a good strategy together in order to improve from there."
Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal: "We are happy with the result today. You can clearly see the car has improved. We could have achieved even more, but we decided to fully focus on the race tomorrow, also because our long runs yesterday looked promising."
Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering: "Both drivers were happy with the overnight changes we made to the car, and we felt more competitive going into qualifying. Our aim coming here was to qualify better than in recent GP's, making it easier to score points, and we have achieved that today. The forecast is for continued high temperatures tomorrow, so we will factor that into our strategy. Our long-run pace was strong in FP2, and we aim to score points with the strategy we have chosen for tomorrow."
Paul di Resta (12th, 1:30.697): "It's been quite a difficult couple of days trying to get the car in the right operating window and I've never felt totally comfortable. All the changes we've made have been a compromise and I've really struggled with the balance. Ahead of qualifying we completely changed the set-up to try to improve things and it certainly helped. For tomorrow we just have to hope that we can repeat the race pace we've shown earlier in the season because that has been one of our strengths."
Adrian Sutil (15th, 1:31.010): "P15 for my home race is a bit disappointing. I had a technical issue with my DRS during Q2 and it was not working, which cost me about half a second per lap. That's why P15 was all that was possible today. Otherwise I think I would have been very close to making Q3. We can fix the issue for tomorrow so we will be ready for the race. Apart from that our absolute pace has not been at our usual level and we've struggled to deliver the performance we showed at Silverstone. Tomorrow is a new day; we will push on and I believe points are still possible."
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal: "It's difficult to determine if the change in tire construction has hampered the team's performance, but for whatever reason we've not found the sweet spot this weekend and that is reflected in our qualifying performance this afternoon. The changes made to Paul's car ahead of qualifying were a step in the right direction and P12 was a good effort all things considered. Adrian has been happier with the balance, but was heavily compromised by a DRS issue, which made it impossible to reach Q3 today. It means we are further back on the grid than we'd like to be, but we remain optimistic that we can fight for points with both cars tomorrow."
Valtteri Bottas (17th, 1:31.693): "We got the most out of the car this afternoon. Things were very close between me and Pastor, but we don't have the pace at the moment to progress any further. The track temperatures are higher and it's a bit windier today which meant that every tenth or hundredth counted, resulting in a very close session. We need to keep pushing and do what we can in the race tomorrow."
Pastor Maldonado (18th, 1:31.707): "We were expecting something a bit better today, but the car is very tricky to drive on a track like this. We need to keep working hard to solve the problems we have identified with the car and move further up the grid. It's going to be a tough race tomorrow as the slow corners do not suit our car, but we'll do everything we can to score some points."
Mike Coughlan, Technical Director: "We had a difficult start to the day after a KERS failure on Pastor's car this morning, which is still being investigated, but the team did a great job to be ready in time for FP3. In FP3 we could see we had more speed but we were lacking grip. We made some changes ahead of qualifying, but unfortunately didn't make the progress we wanted to. Pastor then had a water pump leak in Q1 which meant he could do only one timed lap. Both drivers also struggled to get the necessary temperature into their tires. We now need to look to tomorrow's race to see what we can do."
Daniel Ricciardo (6th, 1:30.528): "I'm really delighted with the way qualifying went and it's very encouraging to be sixth fastest for the second race in a row, which means we are seeing signs of progress and consistency. However, it was not as straightforward here as in Silverstone last week and we definitely had to pull something out of the bag to do the time and get into Q3. We exceeded our expectations today, as in FP3 we did not look so strong. I was particularly pleased with my Q2 lap. I think we did the best we could today and now we look ahead to the race. Last weekend I felt there was a better result than eighth waiting for me and I would like to go for better than seventh, which is my best finish so far. If there's a chance of a podium, let's go for it! Nothing's impossible. The tire strategy is going to be very interesting with some of the top ten on the grid starting on Primes."
Jean-Eric Vergne (16th, 1:31.104): "We just weren't quick enough this afternoon. All weekend my car has been very difficult to drive and that situation hasn't improved since Friday and I have never really managed to put together a good lap. In qualifying, I didn't make any mistakes and I was hoping for much better. Even if we cannot work on the cars before the race, we need to understand exactly what caused this drop in performance. Maybe it is linked to the tires, their temperature or pressure, but I'm not sure. We will see what we can do tomorrow, where I hope to be more competitive and be able to push harder."
Laurent Mekies, Head of Vehicle Performance: "Daniel qualified in the same position as he did in Silverstone, but today it was more unexpected. It did not look that promising yesterday and we changed a lot of things on both cars and tried different directions on the two cars, in terms of our approach to qualifying, to try and pick up our performance level. Clearly, we had more success with Daniel than with Jev, even allowing for some of the different tire strategies we saw in Q3, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out tomorrow. The bottom line is that we did pick up pace today and even if there is a big gap on the grid between our two cars, we expect them to have similar race pace. We will be trying our best on the strategy side to bring Jev up the order tomorrow. As for Daniel, he nailed his lap in Q1 and Q2 and then produced another good lap in Q3 and he was definitely punching above his weight this afternoon."
Charles Pic (19th, 1:32.937): "The focus for FP3 was more work on seeing how the track was evolving and preparing for quali. Carrying on from a good day yesterday and the work we did overnight we started the session with more front grip than I'd had in either Friday session and an improved balance overall. We had to make a small adjustment for the stronger wind on track today but the car felt good for the whole session and the deg levels we saw were positive. On the performance run the balance felt good so we were feeling pretty positive about quali. In qualifying we went for two runs on new softs. On the first run we the quick lap was pretty good but I was called to the weighbridge at the end of that run and we had an issue with the starter motor. The pit crew had to push me back to the garage but we'd decided to go for a one lap second run anyway so we just had time to get the car back, fire it up and get back on track. On the final lap my pace was good but we were held up with traffic in the second sector which maybe cost us a couple of tenths, but we still finished ahead of our nearest rivals in 19th and that was the target. I do want to say thanks to the pit crew for doing a great job to get me back to the garage and out for the final lap – a few of them have been running the tracks this year and that work paid off!"
Giedo van der Garde (21st, 1:33.734): "Friday had gone ok and having been through all the data from yesterday we made a few changes overnight for FP3. In the morning session we were doing some work for quali and the race and the session went ok but we were still having issues getting the front tires up to temperature fast enough. On the first run I still had some of the understeer that had been the main balance issue yesterday, but it was now only really in the high speed section in S3, so we made a couple more mechanical changes for the next run and the balance improved. We went onto the softs for the performance run but I was still having problems with tire temps so I didn't really have a chance to get the maximum out of them on the first lap on the softs, but despite that it still felt like we'd made some progress from Friday. When quali started we went out pretty early and on the first run I had two clear laps to post a time. The first run was ok and the tires were coming in better than they had in FP3 so we went for one quick lap on the second run. We went out with a couple of minutes left in the session but the tires weren't working for most of the first half of the lap and, even though the second half was much better, I'd still lost enough time in S1 that I couldn't really get any more out of it. However, I think we have a decent car for tomorrow and our long run pace has been pretty good, so we'll aim for a clean start and see how it unfolds on Sunday."
Jules Bianchi (20th, 1:33.063): "This morning I was feeling much better than yesterday, but not quite 100%, so I think another night's rest will help again. It was good to get back in the car this morning and start the process of getting up to speed, which I think has gone quite well. It took some time to balance the car to our liking but we're in a good place for tomorrow and I'm looking forward to seeing what we can achieve in terms of race pace. The key will be to get ahead of Charles as soon as possible - and keep it that way."
Max Chilton (22nd, 1:34.098): "I was obviously hoping for more today as Van Der Garde has been within reach all weekend. I seemed to struggle a little more in qualifying and for some reason we did not get the best from the car, which is encouraging to some extent because it means we can depend on our stronger race pace. We'll have a good look at the data this evening and do everything we can to ensure a good fight with the Caterhams tomorrow."
John Booth, Team Principal: "We were all pleased to see Jules looking fit and well this morning and whilst he is still not 100% he made good progress through FP3 this morning. We started him on a race run in order to give him race experience on the new rear tires we have this weekend and that did mean he had to contend with a big leap in pace to the low fuel option run at the end of FP3. His Qualifying runs were very measured and he can be very pleased with his result, as can the rest of the team, who have been analyzing our performance in Silverstone closely to determine a better set-up for here. This has enabled us to catch back up to not only our direct competitors but also the rest of the field. Max's early pace on the Medium tire this morning was where we expected, but on the Soft option tires he hasn't seen the gain expected. I am sure that he will be working hard with his engineers overnight to have the best possible race tomorrow. Overall a pleasing day and we look forward to the race, which does look like it could throw up some interesting strategy and that will be our focus overnight."
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