VF1blog: First Mercedes Pole In Germany Since 1954
Lewis Hamilton has stormed to his 29th career pole and the first for Mercedes on home soil since 1954, after a throughly entertaining qualifying session ahead of tomorrow’s 60-lap race. The Briton will start the race alongside the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel.
The all-important qualifying hour began in glorious sunshine over the iconic Nurburgring, with Force India’s Paul di Resta eventually becoming the first driver to take to the circuit as the session got underway. After recovering from his illness yesterday, the Marussia of Jules Bianchi set the initial benchmark with a 01:34.056, which was quickly bettered by Paul di Resta with a 01:32.911. The times at the top continued to tumble as the opening segment progressed, with the likes of Pastor Maldonado and Daniel Ricciardo rising to the top, with the latter producing a 01:31.081 ahead of the Mercedes’ duo.
Fernando Alonso soon opted for Pirelli’s softer tyre compound, thus enabling the Spaniard to shoot to the top with a 01:30.709. Kimi Raikkonen managed to dispose of the Ferrari driver with a 01:30.676, before former team-mate Felipe Massa shone in the Ferrari by producing a 01:30.547. Further down the order the Williams duo of Valtteri Bottas and Pastor Maldonado were frustratingly eliminated in qualifying for their 600th race, along with the usual suspects of Charles Pic, Jules Bianchi, Giedo van der Garde and Max Chilton.
Jean-Eric Vergne was quick to get proceedings underway in Q2, as the Frenchman immediately took to the track in his Toro Rosso. Naturally Vergne produced the first timed lap of the segment with a 01:31.285, before Paul di Resta lowered the benchmark with a 01:31.258. Once again the times quickly began to tumble, as Kimi Raikkonen and then Lewis Hamilton momentarily rose to the top before local hero Sebastian Vettel returned to the top with a 01:29.992. Despite the German’s impressive lap time, the Ferrari’s managed to improve with Felipe Massa eventually producing a 01:29.825 after an impressive performance from the Brazilian.
As the Ferrari duo ended the session in dominant fashion, Nico Rosberg was surprisingly eliminated from proceedings after a monumental error by Mercedes. The German remained in the pits as the times continued to tumble, and was eventually eliminated along with Paul di Resta, Sergio Perez, Esteban Gutierrez, Adrian Sutil and Jean-Eric Vergne. This error from Mercedes left all of the pressure on the shoulders of Lewis Hamilton for a home pole for the German outfit.
The all-important top ten shootout began with Daniel Ricciardo becoming the first driver to take to the track for Toro Rosso, with the Australian immediately joined by the Ferrari duo of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa. With Daniel Ricciardo and the Ferrari drivers’ pitting after completing installation laps, Kimi Raikkonen produced the first timed lap of the segment with a 01:29.970, which was instantly thwarted by the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel with a 01:29.622. The local favorite’s reign was short-lived, as Lewis Hamilton rose Mercedes to the top with a stunning 01:29.540.
In traditional top ten shootout fashion the top drivers immediately returned to the pits for new tyres, before returning to the circuit to try and improve on their times. With the Ferrari duo of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa thinking ahead to the race and qualifying on the medium tyres, the shootout for pole was realistically between the Red Bull duo and Lewis Hamilton. First blood went to the reigning Champion, who produced a 01:29.501 before Lewis Hamilton fully asserted his authority over the Nurburgring with a sensational 01:29.398 to secure his 29th career pole.
The 2008 World Champion will start tomorrow’s 60-lap race alongside local hero Sebastian Vettel, in what will unquestionably be an enthralling run down to Turn 1 at the start. The second row will consist of Mark Webber and Kimi Raikkonen, with Nico Rosberg qualifying a lowly and frustrating 11th. Sebastian Vettel has never won race on home soil in Formula 1, let alone a race in July. Will the superstitions get the better of him during the race, or will the reigning Champion deny Lewis Hamilton his elusive maiden win for Mercedes?
Author: Andy Young
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