Qualifying today started in warm conditions at the Nurburgring, with track temperature of 43 degrees centigrade and ambient temperatures of 25 degrees centigrade.
Nurburgring – Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has claimed his second consecutive pole position this year – his third of the season – with a time of 1m29.398s on the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tyre, nominated with the P Zero White medium tyre for the German Grand Prix this weekend. He now equals Fangio with 29 pole positions, seventh on the all-time list.
All the drivers finished Q1 on the P Zero Yellow soft tyre with the exception of the two Mercedes and the two Red Bull cars, which used the medium tyre throughout the session. Ferrari driver Felipe Massa was quickest on the soft compound.
All drivers who went through to Q2 used the soft tyre in that session. The Red Bull drivers were the last to come out: completing just one run with five minutes to go to set their times. Massa was again quickest, during a session when the track evolved rapidly.
Most drivers run the final Q3 session on soft tyres, while the two Ferraris chose a different strategy by going out on medium tyres, which is the tyre they will start the race on tomorrow. McLaren’s Jenson Button and Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg did not set a lap time, so can start tomorrow’s race on whichever compound they choose.
The final free practice session this morning was a German one-two on home territory, with Sebastian Vettel leading Nico Rosberg. Both drivers set their fastest time on the soft tyre.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “There was a difference of over a second between the medium and soft compounds, which obviously had an effect on the chosen strategy for qualifying, as it will do during the race tomorrow. The soft tyre was definitely the tyre to qualify on but those who start the race on the medium tyre might be able to gain track position when the soft tyre runners come in for their first stop earlier than them.
We’re expecting most people to stop twice, with the emphasis on the medium tyre during the race: and that will be at the heart of the race strategy that the teams plan tonight. Track temperatures were high today during qualifying, with comparatively little grip, which gave the drivers a delicate job to get the most out of the tyres and ensured that the timing of each qualifying lap was extremely important.
Tomorrow the drivers have plenty of opportunity to make up places through a good strategy, even if they are not as far up the grid. Wear, degradation and performance are in line with our expectations and with dry weather expected again tomorrow, plus a wide variety of strategies at work, we should see a good race.”
The Pirelli mystery strategy predictor:
The quickest strategy for tomorrow’s 60-lap race is set to be a two-stopper. Start on the soft tyre, change to the medium on lap five or six, and then to the medium again on lap 32 or 33.
Alternatively, for those starting on the medium, it could go as follows: Start on the medium and then change to the medium again on lap 27. Change for a mandatory final stop for the soft tyres on lap 54.