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Sebastian Vettel takes F1 pole in Germany as Hamilton hits disaster

Sebastian Vettel takes F1 pole in Germany as Hamilton hits disaster
Jul 21, 2018, 7:11 PM

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel channelled the spirit of his hero Michael Schumacher by placing Ferrari on pole position for the German Grand Prix in fr...

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel channelled the spirit of his hero Michael Schumacher by placing Ferrari on pole position for the German Grand Prix in front of a packed Ferrari-red Hockenheimring crowd, as championship rival Lewis Hamilton was eliminated by a hydraulics issue.

Vettel's track record time of 1:11.212 was enough to secure his 55th Formula One pole position and fend of the challenge of the sole remaining Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, who fell two tenths short.

“In qualifying the car was a pleasure to drive,” said Vettel. “Some days you can feel already when you go out, and do your first flying lap, that you have something in your hands that you can play with.

“That’s the feeling I had today. And from there it just got better. It was more about tuning myself. In the sessions before sometimes I did get the laps together, sometimes I didn’t – I was trying different things.

“I knew in Q3 I could get quite a bit out of the car and myself, and made it work. Really happy, both laps on the limit. Then the adrenaline kicks in. It’s quite a good feeling when you get everything right. Really, really happy with the car and the work we’ve done overnight.”

Two slightly scruffy flying laps from Kimi Raikkonen put the Finn out of contention for pole position and into third on the grid, ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

With Ricciardo also finishing qualifying well down the order due to the decision to take power unit penalties for this race, the third row of the grid was free for the midfielders to fight over.

With Haas continuing their free practice form, they locked out the third row, with Kevin Magnussen out-qualifying Romain Grosjean.

The second German at his home race, Renault's Nico Hulkenberg, finished the qualifying hour in seventh, ahead of team-mate Carlos Sainz. Sauber's Charles Leclerc and Force India's Sergio Perez completed the top ten.

Qualifying session 1

With free practice three being run in very wet conditions, drivers were faced with a 'green' track for the opening qualifying session, but an outside chance of more rain never materialised.

With the ultra-soft tyres proving to not have much degradation, many of the early times were attempted on multiple timed laps.

The drivers who fell short of the Q2 cut were McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne, who continued his poor qualifying form against team-mate Fernando Alonso, Williams' Lance Stroll, the two Toro Rosso's of Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley, and Force India's Esteban Ocon, who blamed missing out on a practice session for his result.

Mercedes' Hamilton suffered a hydraulics problem in final few moments of Q1.

Already progressing into Q2, Hamilton was continuing to push and fine-tune his setup for the coming sessions.

On the face of it, the issue appeared to come from a mistake at turn one, where he ran wide and bounced over the kerbs. He stopped the car not long afterwards and cut a sorry figure as he desperately attempted to push his car back to the pits before crouching by his parked car in disbelief.

However, Mercedes revealed afterwards that the hydraulics problem occurred before Hamilton had reached turn one, and this caused him to lose power steering and run wide.

"We had the failure at Turn 1 as Lewis ran the “normal” kerb which all the drivers use in that stage of qualifying," confirmed a team spokesperson.

"Then, with failed power steering as a result of the hydraulic failure, he had the “jumping” moments that were seen on TV and which people understandably thought might have been the cause of the issue - but were in fact a consequence of it."

Speaking after qualifying, former team-mate Nico Rosberg said that Hamilton's body language "worried" him and that he had not seen this behaviour from him before.

"This is something I'm a bit worried about," Rosberg said while working in his pundit role at Sky Sports.

"I've never seen that body language from him before.

"We saw it for the first time at Silverstone, and now again for a very long time there - disbelief, or something.

"Of course it's tough but this is a new body language, I've never seen that from Lewis.

"This is such a huge setback - because Vettel is out there, the car is flying, he is odds-on favourite to win the race, and Lewis again has to start from somewhere back.

"So that's going to be a very difficult day tomorrow for him."

Qualifying session 2

With Hamilton already eliminated and set to start 14th, the field was effectively down to thirteen cars with Red Bull electing not to run Ricciardo, due to the fact that he will start at the back of the grid regardless.

The session was interrupted when the red flags were deployed to allow a clean-up of the track; Sauber's Marcus Ericsson spun at the Sachs curve and dumped some gravel onto the track when he rejoined.

When the session was concluded, the Swede was one of the three drivers to not make the top ten, along with Williams' Sergey Sirotkin and McLaren's Alonso.

Despite being helped by problems for other cars, Sirotkin's progression into Q2 will be seen as a big step forward for the struggling Williams team.

Qualifying session 3

With Vettel one championship rival down, Q3 was set up perfectly for him to capitalise, and his first flying lap placed him on provisional pole position, 0.17s ahead of Bottas.

Raikkonen's first attempt resulted in the Finn running wide at turn twelve and falling three tenths adrift, whilst Verstappen's opening lap appeared to be evidence of Red Bull not quite having the one-lap pace this weekend.

With Raikkonen unable to improve on his second run, Bottas edged into provisional pole position by just over one tenth of a second, but Vettel - cheered on by the home crowd - found the extra time required to reclaim top spot by two tenths of a second in the final moments of the session.

Raikkonen and Verstappen will occupy the second row ahead of the Haas cars of Magnussen and Grosjean. It will be an all-Renault fourth row with Hulkenberg beating Sainz, whilst Leclerc and Perez completed the top ten.


1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m11.212s

2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m11.416s 0.204s

3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m11.547s 0.335s

4 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m11.822s 0.610s

5 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m12.200s 0.988s

6 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m12.544s 1.332s

7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m12.560s 1.348s

8 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m12.692s 1.480s

9 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 1m12.717s 1.505s

10 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m12.774s 1.562

11 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 1m13.657s

12 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 1m13.702s

13 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m13.736s

14 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes No time

15 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault No time

16 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m13.720s

17 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1m13.749s

18 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 1m14.045s

19 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m14.206s

20 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 1m14.401s

By: Luke Murphy

All images: Motorsport Images

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Author Luke Murphy
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