Lewis Hamilton seized pole position at the 2019 German Grand Prix after Scuderia Ferrari suffered more fatal technical issues. Charles Leclerc, the weekend’s pace-setter, was unable to run in Q3 and Sebastian Vettel failed to set a time at all and will start from the back of the grid.
After strong performances in all three practice sessions, Ferrari had high hopes for pole position. That was derailed by power issues for Vettel, only 500 metres into his out-lap, sending him back to the pits. A problem with the airflow to the turbo meant the four-time World Champion was unable to record a lap time in Q1 for the first time since Malaysia in 2017.
“I don’t know what happened, something broke with the turbo and that was game over from there,” Vettel said. “Obviously [I feel] very bitter, I think the car was great and I lost out on a big chance but hopefully we’ll have a big one coming tomorrow.
“I’m looking forward to the race but obviously it would’ve been nicer to start at the very front than the very back, but we’ll see what happens.”
Teammate Leclerc was hoping to change Ferrari’s fortunes, showing the pace that should have put him on course to take his third career pole having eased through Q1 and Q2.
But disaster struck twice for Ferrari with a fuel problem in Q3 leaving the Monégasque youngster unable to record a time before climbing out of the cockpit, handing him a P10 start in Sunday’s race.
“It’s a shame, but we’ll be trying to understand what happened and not reproduce it,” he said. “It’s a difficult day for the team. I hope it’ll be a more positive day tomorrow.
“I felt great in the car and the car felt great all weekend, so it’s a shame it ends up like this.”
Ferrari can take solace in previous performances at Hockenhiem with Ferrari’s Rubens Barrichello winning from 18th on the grid in a rain-stricken race in 2000, particularly as rain is forecast for tomorrow’s race.
Meanwhile Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton held off threats from Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen (who was 0.346 seconds off the pace) as well as his own teammate Valterri Bottas to secure P1 and his 87th career pole.
Hamilton – who has been battling the flu this weekend – was in high spirits to deliver Mercedes pole position for their 200th Grand Prix start.
“I’m not really sure how we did it today, and I’m not really sure what happened to the Ferraris, but it’s such an important race for us, our second home Grand Prix, and 125 years of motor racing, so it’s incredible to celebrate in this way,” he said.
“We’ve brought some upgrades this weekend, and the car has felt really good. Ferrari have been really fast this weekend, and I think they’ve been on a slightly different level.”
Verstappen’s teammate Pierre Gasly came back from a crash in Friday’s second practice session to secure fourth place despite his final lap being deleted for exceeding track limits, rounding out a Mercedes and Red Bull dominated top four.
Behind them, Kimi Räikkönen claimed a fine fifth for Alfa Romeo ahead of Romain Grosjean, returning to form for the Haas F1 Team. McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez and Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg slotted in ahead of Leclerc, who will still hope to fill tenth position pending the outcome of Ferrari’s investigations.
The surprise eliminations were not all Ferrari-related, as Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo failed to reach Q3, qualifying P13. In an extremely tight midfield battle in Q2, the Australian was just three-hundredths of a second slower than teammate Hülkenberg, who scraped into Q3.
Only 0.33 seconds separated six cars in Q2, but it was Ricciardo’s wobble at Turn 12 that cost him a top ten place.
“It’s frustrating to be the wrong side in Q2, but it was incredibly tight out there. We were the last ones in the 12.7-second range and less than half a tenth would have put me eighth and through [to Q3],” said Ricciardo.
“In that regard, the midfield is enjoyable as it’s so close. On my side, I have to take accountability for that as I know I could have done a little bit more. We made a good improvement from the morning so it was pleasing to be so close to the top ten. Tomorrow could be nice if it rains. Even if it’s dry, we’ll be alright. It’s a mixed field ahead of us, but for now, we’ll take it on the chin and figure it out.”
|FORMULA 1 MERCEDES-BENZ GROβER PREIS VON DEUTSCHLAND 2019 – QUALIFYING|
|Q3 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap|
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:11.767|
|2.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing RB15||1:12.113||+ 0.346|
|3.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:12.129||+ 0.362|
|4.||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull Racing RB15||1:12.522||+ 0.755|
|5.||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||1:12.538||+ 0.771|
|6.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:12.851||+ 1.084|
|7.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||1:12.897||+ 1.130|
|8.||Sergio Pérez||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||1:13.065||+ 1.298|
|9.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:13.126||+ 1.359|
|10.||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||no time|
|Q2 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap*|
|11.||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||1:12.786||+ 0.557|
|12.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:12.789||+ 0.560|
|13.||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:12.799||+ 0.570|
|14.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||1:13.135||+ 0.906|
|15.||Lance Stroll||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||1:13.450||+ 1.221|
|Q1 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap**|
|16.||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||1:13.333||+ 1.104|
|17.||Alexander Albon||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||1:13.461||+ 1.232|
|18.||George Russell||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||1:14.721||+ 2.492|
|19.||Robert Kubica||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||1:14.839||+ 2.610|
|Outside 107%||Team / Entry||Time||Gap**|
|DNQ.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||no time|
* Denotes gap to fastest Q2 lap time of 1:12.149 posted by Lewis Hamilton
** Denotes gap to fastest Q1 lap time of 1:12.229 posted by Charles Leclerc
- Lando Norris – who provisionally qualified P16 – will start from the back of the grid for the use of additional power unit elements.
- Sebastian Vettel – who provisionally failed to qualify – will race at the FIA Stewards’ discretion and will serve a five-place grid penalty for the use of an additional power unit element.
Images via Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport and Scuderia Ferrari