As Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton streak away towards their respective sixth Formula One world championships, the 2019 season at the front has largely been a tale of contrasting fortunes for rivals Ferrari and Red Bull.
Mercedes are partying like it’s 1954 after Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position in Hockenheim, as Ferrari’s challenge unravelled in spectacular fashion.
At the start of Q1, Sebastian Vettel reported a loss of power on his out lap and was told by the team to pit immediately. Vettel never came back out on track.
It all started with Vettel noticing a loss of power as he accelerated out of the pit lane. Then he heard air leaking, a sign of a loss of pressure. Ferrari revealed later that the German had suffered a turbo failure.
Some good omens for Vettel are that Rubens Barrichello won the 2000 German Grand Prix from 18th on the grid, albeit on a different track configuration, and Hamilton’s victory last year from 14th.
“Obviously, I’m very bitter,” Vettel told Sky Sports’ Natalie Pinkham.
“The car is great and we had a great chance [to get pole].
“I’m looking forward to the race but it would have been nicer at the very front instead of the very back.”
It was extremely close in the midfield once again. Lance Stroll finally broke his streak of consecutive Q1 eliminations but wasn’t able to progress much further. He will line up 15th on the grid tomorrow.
As we headed into Q3, problems began to emerge on Charles Leclerc’s car, which ultimately terminated his qualifying.
“I have no idea if it was the same problem as Sebastian’s,” he told Pinkham. “The car felt great today and this weekend so it’s a shame that it’s ended like this.”
With both Ferraris suffering terminal problems, Mercedes were able to score an open goal today with Hamilton taking a pole position which seemed unlikely at the start of the weekend.
When interviewed by Paul di Resta, Hamilton acknowledged what his pole meant to the team.
“It’s such an important race for us – our second Grand Prix and the 125th anniversary for Mercedes,” he said.
So, onto tomorrow’s race. A number of factors should make it unpredictable. Rain is forecast for the whole of Sunday and this could bring Max Verstappen into play.
Remember Brazil 2016 where he overtook Nico Rosberg around the outside of the Curva do Sol? That sort of magnificent drive could be repeated tomorrow afternoon in Hockenheim.
And don’t forget that we have Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel out of position in tenth and 20th place, respectively.
The action gets underway at 11.10pm AEST.
1: Lewis Hamilton: 1:11.767
2: Max Verstappen: 1:12.113
3: Valtteri Bottas: 1:12.129
4: Pierre Gasly: 1:12.522
5: Kimi Raikkonen: 1:12.538
6: Romain Grosjean: 1:12.851
7: Carlos Sainz: 1:12.897
8: Sergio Perez: 1:13.065
9: Nico Hulkenberg: 1:13.126
10: Charles Leclerc: NO TIME
11: Antonio Giovinazzi: 1:12.786 (Q2)
12: Kevin Magnussen: 1:12.789 (Q2)
13: Daniel Ricciardo: 1:12.799 (Q2)
14: Daniil Kvyat: 1:13.135 (Q2)
15: Lance Stroll: 1:13.450 (Q2)
16: Lando Norris: 1:13.333 (Q1)
17: Alexander Albon: 1:13.461 (Q1)
18: George Russell: 1:14.721 (Q1)
19: Robert Kubica: 1:14.839 (Q1)
20: Sebastian Vettel: NO TIME (Q1)