Formula 1: Dominant Rosberg rewarded with third Hockenheim pole

German Formula 1 racer Nico Rosberg from Mercedes AMG Petronas gives an interview after the qualifier on the Hockenheimring in Hockenheim, Germany, July 30.
German Formula 1 racer Nico Rosberg from Mercedes AMG Petronas gives an interview after the qualifier on the Hockenheimring in Hockenheim, Germany, July 30.PHOTO: EPA

HOCKENHEIM • Nico Rosberg grabbed pole position ahead of his world-championship leading Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton for today's German Grand Prix, with a brilliant lap in the final minutes of a tense qualifying session yesterday.

The 31-year-old German produced a startling best lap of 1min 14.323sec 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.

Rosberg, 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 world champion Hamilton when the Briton won in Hungary last week.

"Well done, Nico, a fantastic lap and well done under the circumstances," said Mercedes technical chief Paddy Lowe, who revealed that Rosberg's car was heavily fuelled.

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.

  • STARTING GRID FOR GERMAN GRAND PRIX

  • 1ST ROW
    1 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes
    2 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes

  • 2ND ROW
    3 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull
    4 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull

  • 3RD ROW
    5 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari
    6 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari

  • 4TH ROW
    7 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Force India
    8 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Williams

  • 5TH ROW
    9 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India
    10 Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams

  • 6TH ROW
    11 Esteban Gutierrez (Mex) Haas
    12 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren

  • 7TH ROW
    13 Carlos Sainz Jr (Esp) Toro Rosso
    14 Fernando Alonso (Esp) McLaren

  • 8TH ROW
    15 Jolyon Palmer (Gbr) Renault
    16 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Renault

  • 9TH ROW
    17 Pascal Wehrlein (Ger) Manor
    18 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Toro Rosso

  • 10TH ROW
    19 Rio Haryanto (Ina) Manor
    20 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas

  • 11TH ROW
    21 Felipe Nasr (Bra) Sauber
    22 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber

Behind 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 of a second behind.

The two 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".

Hamilton topped the times in the first session with a best lap of 1min 15.243sec to outpace Rosberg by two-tenths of a second.

Briton Jolyon Palmer squeezed through with a late effort in his Renault but the luckless Russian Daniil Kvyat was furious after his disastrous session.

"Unbelievable," he said, when told he was out again.

In the second session, the Mercedes duo switched tyres from softs to super-softs and after Rosberg began with 1:14.839, Hamilton scorched round in 1:14.748.

The final shoot-out included both Mercedes, both Red Bulls, the two Ferraris - although Vettel only went through in ninth place - and both Williams and Force India cars.

Hamilton was unable to outpace a team-mate at Hockenheim for the first time since 2008.

Looking downcast, he said: "It has been a good weekend with no problems. I had the pace today, but I just didn't finish it off on the last lap."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

F1 GERMAN GRAND PRIX
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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 31, 2016, with the headline 'Dominant Rosberg rewarded with third Hockenheim pole'. Print Edition | Subscribe