Hockenheim - Nico Rosberg grabbed pole position ahead of his world championship
leading Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton for Sunday's German Grand
Prix, with a brilliant lap in the final minutes of a tense qualifying
session on Saturday.
The 31-year-old German produced a startling
best lap of one minute and 14.323 seconds to outpace the defending
champion by 0.123 seconds, having been forced to abort his first flying
lap in the third qualifying session due to electrical problems.
When Hamilton went for his final lap, he was unable to improve and regain the initiative.
on home soil, has set himself up for a chance to regain the lead in the
drivers' standings after slipping six points behind three-time champion
Hamilton when the Briton won in Hungary last week.
Nico, a fantastic lap and well done under the circumstances," said
Mercedes technical chief Paddy Lowe, who revealed that Rosberg's car was
It was Rosberg's third pole at Hockenheim, 30
years after his father Keke had claimed his final pole at the famous old
circuit, his fifth of the season and the 27th of his career.
the two Mercedes, Australian Daniel Ricciardo, in his 100th Grand Prix,
was third fastest for Red Bull ahead of his team-mate Max Verstappen,
the pair slightly more than three-tenths behind.
Ferraris of four-time champion Sebastian Vettel and Finn Kimi Raikkonen
were fifth and sixth ahead of Nico Hulkenberg of Force India, Valtteri
Bottas of Williams, Sergio Perez in the second Force India and Felipe
Massa in the second Williams.
"Yes it was a great feeling," said
Rosberg. "It was a great lap, but I also had extra fuel just in case I
needed to go again and do a third lap."
Hamilton lost time on his
final lap when he locked up at the hairpin, while Rosberg revelled in
the technical demands of the track and obeyed the adage of 'making the
car do the work'.
the first-session times with a best lap of one minute and 15.243
seconds to outpace Rosberg by two-tenths, ending the German's supremacy.
Jolyon Palmer squeezed through with a late effort in his Renault and
out went Kevin Magnussen, his team-mate, along with German Pascal
Wehlrein, luckless Russian Daniil Kvyat, Indonesian Rio Haryanto in the
second Manor and the two Saubers of Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson.
A despondent Kvyat was apoplectic after his disastrous session.
"Unbelievable," he said, when told he was out again. "What the fuck is going on?"
the second session, the Mercedes duo switched from softs to super-softs
and after Rosberg began with 1:14.839, Hamilton scorched round in
Content with their first flying laps, the top contenders stayed in the pits as the rest scrambled to reach the top ten.
the end, it spelt elimination for Mexican Esteban Gutierrez along with
Jenson Button of McLaren and Spaniards Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso
in the second McLaren.
Frenchman Romain Grosjean also went out in
15th place in the second Haas, knowing he faced a grid penalty for a
change of gearbox, and Palmer.
This meant that the top ten
shootout included both Mercedes, both Red Bulls, the two Ferraris -
though Vettel only went through in ninth - and both Williams and Force
India cars, all four of them powered by Mercedes.
Vettel set the
early standard with 1:15.619 before the Silver Arrows did their stuff,
Rosberg lapping fast, but then pulling into the pits as Hamilton clocked
a best lap in 1:14.486.
Rosberg was under pressure, as his team said he had suffered an electrical error.
gave Verstappen and then Ricciardo encouragement and they followed each
other into second place before they all came back out for their final
Rosberg was soon out again on a virtually clear track and
retook the lead with his flying lap, outpacing his team-mate's first run
by 0.123 seconds.
Hamilton came out for another try, but he was unable to outpace a team-mate at Hockenheim for the first time since 2008.
1 Rosberg Mercedes 1:14.363
2 Hamilton Mercedes 1:14.470
3 Ricciardo Red Bull 1:14.726
4 Verstappen Red Bull 1:14.834
5 Raikkonen Ferrari 1:15.142
6 Vettel Ferrari 1:15.315
7 Hulkenberg Force India 1:15.510
8 Bottas Williams 1:15.530
9 Perez Force India 1:15.537
10 Massa Williams 1:15.615
11 Gutierrez Haas 1:15.883
12 Button McLaren 1:15.909
13 Sainz Toro Rosso 1:15.989
14 Alonso McLaren 1:16.041
15 Grosjean Haas 1:16.086
16 Palmer Renault 1:16.665
17 Magnussen Renault 1:16.716
18 Wehrlein Manor 1:16.717
19 Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:16.876
20 Haryanto Manor 1:16.977
21 Nasr Sauber 1:17.123
22 Ericsson Sauber 1:17.238