Lewis Hamilton has won pole position for Sunday’s German Grand Prix, clocking a sensationally quick final lap to snatch top spot from Sebastian Vettel at the Nürburgring.
The Englishman was overjoyed with the result, particularly after it had come in the wake of a poor practice session earlier in the day where he had struggled with balance issues in his Mercedes.
It was a close fight right to the end of the final phase of qualifying. Hamilton held provisional pole with a time of 1:29.540, only for Vettel to pip him by just three-hundredths of a second. With one final lap in hand, Hamilton let it all hang out, delivering an inch-perfect lap to claim pole position from the German by 0.103 seconds.
Mercedes should have had both of its cars comfortably inside the top-ten, but a strategic blunder from the team saw Nico Rosberg qualify outside the top-ten, continuing the German’s poor qualifying run at the circuit where he has only qualified inside the top-ten on one occasion since he made his F1 debut in 2006. With the team believing that his Q2 lap would be good enough for a Q3 berth, he missed out by a marginal six-hundredths of a second.
Mark Webber clocked a personal best lap time to put his Red Bull Racing entry third-quickest ahead of the Lotus duo of Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean, while Daniel Ricciardo was something of an unexpected Q3 contender, going sixth-quickest and comfortably shading his teammate Jean-Éric Vergne by a full nine-tenths of a second in Q2.
While Felipe Massa was quickest in both of the preceding qualifying phases, neither Ferrari had the pace come Q3. Both Massa and teammate Fernando Alonso opted to post their qualifying times on the slower Medium compound tyres, clearly playing the long game and planning for Sunday’s 70-lap race.
Jenson Button – another rather surprise Q3 graduate – opted for a similar tactic, although he opted not to post a lap-time in his McLaren. Nico Hülkenberg did likewise, managing to find a few vital tenths of a second in his Sauber to qualify inside the top-ten at his home race.
With Rosberg a surprise knockout in Q2, both Force Indias were also sidelined in the middle phase of qualifying; Paul di Resta was twelfth-fastest, while teammate Adrian Sutil was only fifteenth, behind the Mexican pairing of Sergio Pérez and Esteban Gutiérrez.
Yet again, neither Williams made it beyond the opening phase of qualifying, with Valtteri Bottas qualifying 17th and 18th on the grid, with the team suffering a small KERS fire on Pastor Maldonado’s car after Friday’s second practice session.
As usual, the Caterhams and Marussias jostled for the final two rows on the grid. Charles Pic led the way in his Caterham ahead of his French compatriot Jules Bianchi, while Giedo van der Garde and Max Chilton will start from the back row.
2013 German Formula 1 Grand Prix – Qualifying Session Times:
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:29.398|
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:29.501||+ 0.103|
|3.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:29.608||+ 0.210|
|4.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:29.892||+ 0.494|
|5.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:30.373||+ 0.975|
|6.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:30.528||+ 1.130|
|7.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:31.126||+ 1.728|
|8.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:31.209||+ 1.811|
|9.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||no time|
|10.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sauber Ferrari C32||no time|
|Q3 Cut-Off – 1:30.269||Time||Gap*|
|11.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:30.326||+ 0.501|
|12.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:30.697||+ 0.872|
|13.||Sergio Pérez||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:30.933||+ 1.108|
|14.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:31.010||+ 1.185|
|15.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:31.010||+ 1.185|
|16.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:31.104||+ 1.279|
|Q2 Cut-Off – 1:31.681||Time||Gap**|
|17.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW35||1:31.693||+ 1.146|
|18.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW35||1:31.707||+ 1.160|
|19.||Charles Pic||Caterham Renault CT03||1:32.937||+ 2.390|
|20.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02||1:33.063||+ 2.516|
|21.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham Renault CT03||1:33.734||+ 3.187|
|22.||Max Chilton||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02||1:34.098||+ 3.551|
* Gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:29.825 by Felipe Massa
** Gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:30.547 by Felipe Massa