Nurburgring Quali Recap: Hamilton triumphs despite Merc’s strategy misstep, Vettel P2

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Lewis Hamilton (1:29.398) won pole for the 2013 German Grand Prix, beating out Sebastian Vettel at his home grand prix by just over a tenth of a second. As the qualifying sessions progressed, it appeared that pole would come down to a battle between Mercedes and Red Bull, as it did. Mark Webber finished Q3 third fastest, with Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean filling out the top five for Lotus. Daniel Ricciardo comtinued his hunt to replace Webber at Red Bull, qualifying sixth. Ferrari chose a cagey strategy, putting both Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso on the medium compound for their final run in the final quali session. They qualified seventh and eighth fastest, respectively.

Williams suffered a dismal Q1, with both Valtteri Bottas and Pastor Maldonado knocked out in the first twenty minutes of qualifying. Webber looked a bit shaky, as a lockup in his penultimate lap allowed him to go only thirteenth fastest. Still, he and Vettel had not used a set of softs to that point. Shockingly, Nico Rosberg lost out in Q2, as Mercedes kept him in the garage with what seemed to be a safe time. It was not, and the German got knocked out in Q2 as the track improved

Mercedes looked set for a second triumph in as many weeks, as Hamilton (1:31.754) and Rosberg led the Friday morning practice session by a large margin over the rest of the field. Third fastest Webber could only manage a lap time a full second slower than Hamilton, while Vettel’s typical bad luck at home in Germany allowed him only the eighth fastest time. Sutil and Raikkonen rounded out the fastest five at the end of the first practice.

Alonso had a dismal session, unable to complete even an installation lap. His Ferrari suffered electrical issues, forcing the Spaniard out of the car in the early stages of the session on his first install lap, then barely allowing him to get back to the garage on his second try much later.

Vettel, though, seemed to have shaken off the morning’s slow pace after taking charge in the afternoon practice. He posted the fastest time (1:30.416), beating Rosberg by just over two tenths in the quick soft tyre runs. Though Rosberg separated the Red Bull teammates, Webber was third fastest and masterful in the race simulations. Grosjean and Raikkonen completed the fastest five for Lotus, with Alonso, far better than in the morning, sixth fastest. Hamilton sat eighth fastest at the end of the ninety minute practice.

Vettel (1:29.517) again led Saturday morning, posting an early fast time, then beating the rest of the field by nearly seven tenths again in the soft tyre runs at the end of the hour long practice. Rosberg, Webber, Alonso, and Massa completed the top five. Raikkonen, Hamilton, Grosjean, Hulkenberg, and Sutil rounded out the top ten, with Button again slower than McLaren would typically expect, in eleventh. Teammate Perez was fifteenth fastest.

Di Resta led the way onto the track for the twenty minutes of Q1, with no other driver immediately following. Bianchi left the garages next. Chilton soon followed, as did van der Garde and others. The Scotsman’s first time was slow, with Bianchi and Chilton soon posted faster ones, only to have di Resta go faster still. Early times were their typical mishmash as the order settled and the track evolved.

After the first ten minutes, Maldonado (1:31.834) led Bottas, Gutierrez, di Resta, Sutil, Pic, Bianchi, van der Garde, and Chilton. Both Mercedes drivers had set times, but they were then outside the 107%, as both had issues heating up the tyres. Soon, Ricciardo leapt up to fastest, with Rosberg slotting neatly into the order two tenths slower than the Australian. With nine minutes remaining, Webber, Massa, Raikkonen, Grosjean, and Hulkenberg all still remained in the garage, though they began joining in soon thereafter. Hamilton beat his teammate to second fastest by a slim margin on his first properly fast lap.

Alonso soon set out on three timed laps on the soft tyres. He went fastest (1:30.709) of all, beating Ricciardo’s provisional pole by nearly three tenths. Ricciardo, Hamilton Vettel, Rosberg, Vergne, Malonado, Bottas, Sutil, and Gutierrez completed the top ten with five minutes remaining. Alonso’s time would not long stand, as Raikkonen beat him to provisional pole. Massa, Button, Grosjean, and Hulkenberg had yet to set times.

Massa went fifth fastest with just under four minutes remaining, leaving Sutil, Perez, Pic, Bianchi, van der Garde, and Chilton in the knockout zone with two and a half minutes remaining. Button had been there, but popped up to sixth fastest on his first fast lap. Raikkonen pitted, as did Alonso, Ricciardo, and Hamilton, with two minutes to go. As the top four they looked safe to move on to Q2. Webber had a lockup into the hairpin, but continued on after briefly stepping outside the bound of the track. He sat thirteenth fastest.

Massa soon took provisional pole as more drivers popped back to the garages in the final seconds of the session. Webber moved up to twelfth, then pitted. Perez looked set to be knocked out, but had time enough for another fast lap after the checkered flag. Di Resta moved up to twelfth on soft tyres, with Perez just barely managing to move on to Q2, by going fourteenth. In the end, Massa (1:30.547) led Raikkonen, Alonso, Ricciardo, Hamilton, Hulkenberg, Button, Grosjean, Vettel, and Sutil as the top ten in Q1. Webber finished thirteenth, though both Red Bull drivers remained on the harder, medium compounds.

Knocked Out in Q1:
17. Valtteri Bottas
18. Pastor Maldonado
19. Charles Pic
20. Jules Bianchi
21. Giedo van der Garde
22. Max Chilton

Vergne set out for the fifteen minutes of Q2 first. Gutierrez and di Resta soon followed, as did Hulkenberg and Raikkonen. Vergne’s first lap was faster than his Q1 lap, as it would be on soft tyres, but was off the pace. Di Resta quickly bettered him. All but the Red Bull and Mercedes drivers were lapping, five minutes into the session. Raikkonen (1:30.575) took provisional pole, with di Resta six tenths slower. Grosjean slotted between the two, with Vergne, Hulkenberg, Gutierrez, and Sutil the seven drivers to have then set a time. Hamilton’s first lap (1:30.152) put him on the provisional pole.

McLaren had by then sent Button and Perez out to lap, as Alonso went third fastest, a half second off his former teammate’s time. Hamilton still led the session at halfway, with Raikkonen, Alonso, Grosjean, Massa, di Resta, Vergne, Hulkenberg, and Gutierrez the top ten at that time. Sutil and Ricciardo had set times, with the McLaren boys yet to complete their first timed lap, and Red Bull still serenely sitting in the garage.

Button went tenth fastest on his first lap, with Perez unable to beat even Ricciardo’s time. Perez was well off the pace, as his lap was in the one thirty-sevens. Vettel and Webber joined the fray with just under six minutes to go. They, the McLaren drivers, and Gutierrez were then the only men lapping. Perez soon put his lap closer to the rest of the field, just three hundredths slower than Ricciardo. Grosjean soon rejoined as well.

More drivers trickled back onto the track with four minutes to go, as neither Red Bull could beat either Mercedes driver’s first sector time. They were, however, faster by multiple tenths through the second sector. Vettel’s first fast lap (1:29.992) put him on top, with Webber third fastest. Grosjean soon slid between Vettel and Hamilton.

Only Mercedes remained in the garage with two minutes to go, then the Red Bulls pitted. Vergne, Hulkenberg, Butotn, Sutil, Ricciardo, and Perez were in the knockout zone with one minute remaining, even as Alonso took provisional pole. Teammate Massa soon bested him by more than a tenth. Perez went eighth fastest, with Perez soon dropping to ninth, then tenth. Ricciardo moved up to seventh, even as most of the drivers in the relegation zone bettered their times.

Button had looked safer, only to  be dropped to tenth as Raikkonen moved up to second fastest. Meanwhile, Rosberg, having remained in the garage, dropped into eleventh by Raikkonen’s fast time. In the end, Massa (1:29.825) led Raikkonen, Alonso, Vettel, Grosjean, Hamilton, Webber, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, and Button on to fight for pole in Q3.

Knocked Out in Q2:
11. Nico Rosberg
12. Paul di Resta
13. Sergio Perez
14. Esteban Gutierrez
15. Adrian Sutil
16. Jean-Eric Vergne

Ricciardo left the garage first, with Alonso and Massa close behind. Nearly all of the drivers were out quite quickly for the ten minutes of Q3. Soon, only Button and Hulkenberg had yet to leave pit lane two minutes into the session. Most drivers were out on used soft tyres, barring the Red Bull drivers. They appeared to be using fresh softs. Neither Ferrari driver completed a timed lap, as both posted an install lap and returned to the garage. So too did Ricciardo. Raikkonen (1:29.970) set the first time, only to have Vettel beat him by just under three tenths. Grosjean managed only to go slower than his teammate.

After the first hot laps were completed, Hamilton (1:29.540) held provisional pole. Vettel, Raikkonen, Webber, and Grosjean completed the top five with five minutes to go. They were the only drivers then to have set a time. As most drivers returned to the pits, Alonso, Massa, and Button lapped. Button soon quitted the field, gaining a new set of tyres after a quick stop.

By the time two minutes remained, all the drivers had rejoined the circuit. Alonso and Massa went out on fresh mediums, as Ferrari clearly looked toward Sunday. Button, meanwhile, radioed that “I’ll be surprised if we can beat the Ferraris, guys.” He was also on the harder tyre.

As the seconds ticked away, drivers looked to finish their single hot laps. Vettel took the provisional pole, but Hamilton had beaten his first sector time, behind him on the track. Webber could not beat Hamilton’s previously fast time and sat third fastest, as Raikkonen and Grosjean were both slower in fourth and fifth. Hamilton pushed hard, beating Vettel to pole by just over a tenth. Further back, Massa out-qualified Alonso, while both Button and Hulkenberg aborted their laps and did not post a time in Q3.

Final Qualifying Times for the 2013 German Grand Prix:

1. Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:29.39814
2. Sebastian VettelRed Bull1:29.50114
3. Mark WebberRed Bull1:29.60814
4. Kimi RaikkonenLotus1:29.89215
5. Romain GrosjeanLotus1:29.95916
6. Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso1:30.52816
7. Felipe MassaFerrari1:31.12617
8. Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:31.20915
9. Jenson ButtonMcLarenno time16
10. Nico HulkenbergSauberno time13
11. Nico RosbergMercedes1:30.32610
12. Paul di RestaForce India1:30.69718
13. Sergio PerezMcLaren1:30.93316
14. Esteban GutierrezSauber1:31.01017
15. Adrian SutilForce India1:31.01015
16. Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso1:31.10412
17. Valtteri BottasWilliams1:31.6938
18. Pastor MaldonadoWilliams1:31.7076
19. Charles PicCaterham1:32.9378
20. Jules BianchiMarussia1:33.0639
21. Giedo van der GardeCaterham1:33.7348
22. Max ChiltonMarussia1:34.0989


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