Saturday, 19 July 2014

Rosberg on pole for his home race as Williams shine in the German sun

(Mercedes AMG F1 Team)

Mercedes AMG F1 Team's Nico Rosberg will start tomorrow's German Grand Prix from pole position after a thrilling qualifying session at the Hockenheimring. The German who leads the championship by 4 points from team mate Lewis Hamilton will be joined on the front row by the Williams Martini Racing of Valtteri Bottas who put in a fantastic performance for the Grove based outfit. Felipe Massa will start the race from third on the grid as he aims to score his first podium finish as a Williams driver.

Speaking after qualifying Rosberg said:

'That was a quite challenging Qualifying session. The option tyre lasts only for one quick lap and without FRIC we had a lot do adjust the set-up. I had a difficult start because I didn’t really feel comfortable with the balance in the braking zones but that gradually improved through the sessions. The quickest lap at the end was really a good one. So I’m really happy to start from the top position here at our home Grand Prix. But I can’t be too pleased about today because of the accident Lewis suffered, I´m glad he is fine. I would have preferred to have the normal fight for the pole with him. But I´m sure he will fly through the field as our car is still the quickest out there. So our German fans will see an exciting race tomorrow.'

It was an extremely disappointing session for Lewis Hamilton as the 2008 world champion suffered a front right brake disc failure in Q1 and crashed heavily with a force of approximately 27G. The 2008 world champion said:

'The car was feeling great today. I braked in the same place as I have been doing and I suddenly lost brake pressure – it took me by surprise and the failure spun the car into the wall. It wasn’t a great feeling when that happened, you just have to take your hands off the wheel and brace for the impact, but thankfully I’m okay. My legs are a little bruised but I will be fine to race tomorrow; nothing is going to stop me getting in that car. I’m devastated for the guys because they worked so hard during the evening and late last night - I even got an email from my engineers at 01:00 and we were making changes to the set-up to get it just right, which paid off because the balance felt fantastic out there. Then we didn’t even get to do five laps. I’m not sure where we’ll start tomorrow in the race because that will depend on the damage to the car. But we’ll give it everything, hope for a slice of luck and aim for a recovery like I made at Silverstone. It’s definitely going to be a tough afternoon but I won’t be giving up.'

Mercedes Motorsport boss Toto Wolff commented on today' events saying:

'It was like night and day today. First of all, we’re all happy that Lewis is okay as it was quite a shunt. It’s just not acceptable to have a brake disc fail in that way after we fitted a new set this morning and we have to find out what we do about it. We will assess the car and see what the damage is in the end. We are very pleased with Nico being on pole. He did a very good job in difficult conditions because of the unexpected heat in combination with the supersoft tyre which made it very tricky for everyone. Congratulations to Williams on P2 and P3 – they were pushing us very hard today.'

Mercedes Non Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe said:

'It is another Saturday afternoon of mixed feelings for the team. First and foremost, we are very happy that Lewis emerged unhurt from his accident in Q1 – although he is sore, he will be able to drive tomorrow. And then, of course, there was great satisfaction to see Nico take his fifth pole position of the year. He initially struggled to get a time on the board in Q1 – indeed, we have seen that many drivers have struggled to put a complete lap together this weekend. After that point, though, he drove three fast and clean laps in Q2 and Q3 to take pole position. But as we saw in Austria, too, he was under some pressure from the Williams who are both running very well this weekend. It was a different story for Lewis, who suffered a right front brake disc failure. This was a new set of brakes fitted for third practice, in line with our normal procedures, and a catastrophic failure occurred without warning while he was braking for Turn 13. This is not a particularly hard braking event, and the brakes were operating normally until that point, so this will clearly require detailed investigation. We will be working hard this evening to rebuild the car so Lewis can fight back strongly tomorrow afternoon.'

It was brilliant session for McLaren's Kevin Magnussen as the Dane scored his best ever qualifying performance  and will start the race from 4th on the grid just ahead of Infiniti Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo. It looked as though reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel would out-qualify Ricciardo today but was unable to match the Australian's time and will start the race from 6th on the grid three tenths of a second behind Ricciardo. Speaking afterwards Ricciardo said:

'It wasn’t too bad today, we would like to be further forward than fifth, but the lap I did was pretty good. I made quite an improvement in Q3 from Q2 so I can’t really argue with the lap I did, but as a team we are still a bit off. We know the Mercedes is strong, but the Williams was also continually showing their pace today and the McLaren with Kevin was good, so we have to keep working but we did what we could. I think the race will be close between the top eight tomorrow and it will be a battle for the final podium spot.'

Sebastian Vettel, was once out again outperformed by Daniel Ricciardo and said after the session:

'It was a bit tough today and the final run didn’t come together, but other than that it was good session. I felt happier in the car this afternoon that I did this morning, so that was good. We’re not sure what the weather will be like tomorrow; we will have a reasonable position to do well from.'

Infiniti Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner said:

'Fifth and sixth are probably about the maximum amount we could get in qualifying today. We are very competitive in sections 1 and 3, but unfortunately the middle sector really seems to favour the Mercedes powered cars here in Hockenheim. Nonetheless, both drivers did the best they could to extract the most they could out of the car and hopefully in tomorrow’s race in these hot conditions, we can progress from fifth and sixth on the grid.'

It was a disappointing day for Ferrari's Fernando Alonso as he will start the race in 7th place just ahead of Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat in 8th place. Nico Hulkenberg will start the race from 9th place just ahead of team mate Sergio Perez who rounded out the top ten. Speaking afterwards Nico Hulkenberg commented:

'I’m feeling fairly happy and satisfied with ninth place and it’s pretty much where we expected to be. This weekend our pace over a single lap has not been the best, but making the top ten gives us a good track position and the chance to make the most of our long-run pace, which has looked promising. I think tomorrow will be a tricky race because of the heat and getting the tyre management right will be very important. The hotter races have suited us so far this season so we expect that to be the same tomorrow. Points with both cars has to be the goal.'

Meanwhile team mate Sergio Perez said:

'I am very happy we made it to Q3 because the crew did an amazing job to get the car ready after a small issue in Q2. We couldn't finish our first run on new option tyres, which made things difficult because you lose all track references and the track was changing very quickly with the wind and high temperatures. So we only had one shot to make the top ten and we made it with a great lap. I think ninth and tenth in Q3 is a fair result for today, but I expect us to be stronger in the race tomorrow, especially if the weather stays dry. It will be a race where you will have to manage your tyres very well and I’m feeling confident that we can come away with a good result.'

Sahara Force India deputy team principal Robert Fernley said:

'Making the top ten with both cars was the target and the whole team should feel satisfied with our performance. With both cars starting from the fifth row, we are already well placed and our race pace should allow us to take a strong fight to the cars ahead of us. The hot weather has normally suited us this year so I think we can feel quite relaxed about our performance if the hot weather continues. We have a good understanding of the tyres based on the work we did on Friday and if we can make the right strategy calls tomorrow we can come away with a good helping of points.'

Jenson Button will start the race from 11th place on the grid for McLaren just ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen who will start the race from 12th place as for the second time in two Grand Prix the Finn failed to make it into Q3. The Iceman will be looking to improve his performance in the race tomorrow as he looks to bounce back from a difficult start to the season.

Jean Eric Vergne will start the race from 13th place on the grid while Esteban Gutierrez qualified in 14th place but will start the race from 17th place as a result of his three place grid penalty following causing the accident with Pastor Maldonado last time out in Silverstone.

The Lotus F1 Team's Romain Grosjean will start the race from 14th place while following his crash Lewis Hamilton will start the race from 15th place on the grid just ahead of Sauber's Adrian Sutil with Esteban Gutierrez starting the race in 17th place. Speaking after the session Esteban Gutierrez said:

'We all did a great job today. We were working very hard in order to recover from the second practice session yesterday that was not ideal. The team put every little detail together and it worked out pretty well. I think our speed in Q1 was strong, although in Q2 I missed a few tenths which would have put us in a better position. Considering the speed we were missing yesterday, we made quite a good step today. The race will be interesting as it is challenging to keep the tyres alive. As everybody in our team is pushing very hard, it has to be rewarded soon.'

Adrian Sutil commented:

'Unfortunately, the technology did not play into our hands and blew away a good result. In the morning I could only run one lap during the third free practice session and, as a result, our preparation for qualifying was not good enough. It is a pity, as Q3 would have been possible today. Due to the time lost in the morning we could not expect more. However, we did our best during qualifying. We were also unlucky with the red flags, as I was on a good lap.'

Sauber team boss Monisha Keltenborn commented:

'This result reflects more or less where we stand at this point in time. Obviously it’s a shame that Esteban has to move three places back. Tomorrow we have to focus one hundred percent on the race and make sure that we are not making any mistakes.'

Sauber's Head of Track Engineering Giampaolo Dall'Ara commented:

'This morning Adrian basically lost the whole session due to a problem with the battery pack. Therefore he was not able to use the supersoft tyres in FP3, which was definitely a significant disadvantage for him. Esteban has made good progress since yesterday when he was not at all happy with the car. We continued working on the set-up this morning and made progress, which allowed him to put together a good qualifying lap particularly in Q1. Unfortunately he has to go back three places. After yesterday we hoped for a bit more. We now have to make sure that we get the maximum out of the package in the race.'

Jules Bianchi did  great job for Marussia and will start the race from 18th place just ahead of Pastor Maldonado in the second Lotus. Kamui Kobayashi will start the race from 20th place just ahead of Max Chilton in the second Marussia.

Marcus Ericsson suffered a hydraulic problem in the Caterham and failed to take  part in the session so is likely to start the race from the pit-lane.

© Ben Johnston 2014

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