Nico Rosberg delivered an impressive qualifying performance to take pole position for the German Grand Prix.
In his home race, Rosberg had to abort his first run in Q3 due to an electronics issue, leaving him with just one real attempt to fight for pole. With team-mate Lewis Hamilton on provisional pole position, Rosberg went out early for his second run and his first lap saw two quick sectors to give him an advantage of nearly 0.2s.
Hamilton couldn’t respond, locking up at the Turn 6 hairpin and falling 0.107s short on his final attempt. Rosberg was attempting to improve again but had taken the best life out of his tyres with his first lap, which was good enough to secure his 27th pole position.
Red Bull threatened at times and after the first runs both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen looked capable of improving. Verstappen had a scruffy first lap and his final attempt saw him close the gap to Ricciardo to 0.1s, but his team-mate failed to improve as a poor middle sector left him 0.363s adrift of Rosberg’s lap.
Kimi Raikkonen looked the quicker of the two Ferrari drivers throughout qualifying and duly beat team-mate Sebastian Vettel by 0.2s, with the pair lining up fifth and sixth on the grid respectively. Nico Hulkenberg, Valtteri Bottas, Sergio Perez and Felipe Massa rounded out the top ten as Force India and Williams continue to fight over fourth place in the constructors’ championship.
Both McLaren drivers dropped out in Q2 for the first time in four races, with Jenson Button doing well to outqualify Fernando Alonso despite limited mileage this weekend. Alonso ended up 0.132s slower than Button, with the Spaniard running wide on the entry to the stadium section and damaging the floor of his car on his final lap.
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Esteban Gutierrez dropped out in 11th place ahead of Button and Carlos Sainz, with the Toro Rosso driver under investigation for impeding Massa at Turn 2. The incident came on the first runs in Q2, with Massa able to progress with his final lap.
Behind Alonso, Romain Grosjean struggled to match his Haas team-mate as he finished 15th – 0.2s adrift of Gutierrez after changing his gearbox following FP3 – and Jolyon Palmer made it through to the second part of qualifying but didn’t have the pace to trouble those ahead of him.
A frantic end to Q1 saw a number of drivers with a chance of progressing with their final laps, although the Sauber pair of Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson were already cut adrift at the bottom of the times. Ahead of them, Rio Haryanto failed to improve sufficiently to progress, with Daniil Kvyat also dropping down from 16th place to 19th in the closing moments.
After being told he was eliminated, Kvyat replied over team radio: “F***ing unbelievable, what the f**k is going on?” A good lap from Jolyon Palmer saw him progress ahead of team-mate Kevin Magnussen, with Pascal Wehrlein just 0.001s slower than the Dane’s time in what looked like a fight for the final position in Q2 until a late improvement from Sainz saw both Magnussen and Wehrlein drop out in 17th and 18th respectively.
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