Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

lauantai 21. heinäkuuta 2018

German GP / Qualifying: Pole for home hero Sebastian, heartbreak for Hamilton!

Weather was the main topic of conversation ahead the qualifying hour, as the morning's FP3 had been absolutely washed-out. However, the conditions were dry, as the lights went green for Q1. Sebastian and Kimi in their Ferraris showed top performance right away, and the red-suited drivers went fastest alternately. On the other hand, Hamilton in his Mercedes hit trouble right away. After posting the fifth fastest time, the Briton crawled to a halt on the circuit with a loss of hydraulic pressure. A moment earlier Hamilton had gone wide in Turn 1, bouncing heavily over the kerbs, which probably caused the failure. It was a heart-breaking moment for Hamilton, who desperately tried to push his Mercedes to safety, but there was nothing to be done. Kimi and Sebastian topped the timesheets in Q1, followed by Bottas in the sister Mercedes. Although the Red Bulls were absolutely loving the third sector, Verstappen and Ricciardo couldn't make it higher than P8 and P9. Worth noting was the fact, that both Sauber drivers made it in Q2. Out of the second segment were Force India's Ocon, the Toro Rosso duo of Hartley and Gasly, Williams' Stroll and McLaren's Vandoorne.

In Q2 it was Red Bull's Verstappen, who stood out of the crowd in terms of the tyre strategy. The Dutchman came out on the yellow-walled soft tyres, whilst everyone else opted for the purple-marked ultra-soft compound. The second session was interrupted by the red flag, as Sauber's Ericsson spun on the gravel; in spite of being able to continue, the Swede brought a lot of gravel onto the track. Red Bull's Ricciardo chose not to run in Q2 at all, as the Australian was going to face a 20-place grid penalty for multiple power unit element changes. Teammate Verstappen's pace on the softs hadn't turned out competitive enough, so the flying Dutchman had to opt for the ultra-softs at the end of the session. The top five drivers -Bottas, Kimi, Sebastian, and the Haas duo of Magnussen and Grosjean- sat out the second runs. Alongside with Ricciardo and the heart-broken Hamilton, eliminated from the last segment were McLaren's Alonso, Williams' Sirotkin and Sauber's Ericsson.

Ahead the decisive last segment there were dark clouds lurking over the Hockenheim Ring. However, the conditions stayed dry until the end of the session. Home hero Sebastian took provisional pole by 0,17s to closest challenger Bottas. Kimi had an off in his first run, which cost the Iceman about three tenths, and the Finn was third fastest. Red Bull's Verstappen was fourth, almost eight tenths off the pace already. Kimi was the first driver to go out for his second run. The Iceman clocked an impressive lap time, being only eight thousandths of a second down on teammate Sebastian. But the other Finn Bottas answered immediately. He went fastest, which left Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff open-mouthed. However, Sebastian turned the timing sectors purple. Especially the German's middle sector was absolutely magical, and Sebastian made it on pole by 0.2s, to the delight of his home crowd! This was his first pole at Hockenheim since 2010, so it was about time already! But the day wasn't bad for the Finnish drivers, either, as Bottas was second and Kimi third. Verstappen was fourth, already six tenths down on pole-setter Sebastian. The Haas of Magnussen and Grosjean were paired up in the third row, and the Renaults of Hulkenberg and Sainz were paired up in the row four.  Sensational Leclerc qualified in P9, putting his Sauber right in amongst the midfield battle. Force India's Perez rounded out the top ten.

The starting point for tomorrow's race couldn't be any more exciting. This time there won't be any variety in terms of the tyre strategy of the top ten. Sebastian's title rival Hamilton will start to the race from P14, unless there will be a penalty for a possible gearbox change for example. Due to his penalty Ricciardo will start from the very back of the grid, so I'm sure we're going to see a lot of overtaking tomorrow. Hopefully there won't be any opening-lap collisions between the red and the silver cars this time! Sebastian has never won at Hockenheim, so it would be absolutely fantastic and heart-warming to see him win in front of his home crowd! Nothing would be more satisfying than a 1-2 by the Red Team! Forza Ferrari!

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