Jul 19, 2014, 9:11 AM EST
Nico Rosberg has secured his fifth pole position of the 2014 F1 season today at Hockenheim after Lewis Hamilton crashed his car in Q1, leaving the German with only the Williams drivers to contend with at the front of the field.
Rosberg went unchallenged on Saturday at his home circuit, after Hamilton’s terrifying brake failure in Q1 left the Briton in the wall and down in 15th place on the grid. However, Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa put in good performances to qualify second and third respectively, giving Mercedes some food for thought, but ultimately the German marque reigned supreme again with its ninth pole in ten races.
As Q1 got underway at Hockenheim, Caterham faced a race against time to get Marcus Ericsson’s car repaired following a hydraulic issue that had sidelined him during FP3. Eventually, the team was forced to throw in the towel, meaning that he will start tomorrow’s race from last place.
The rest of the field did manage to get out early in the first part of qualifying, and Lewis Hamilton quickly rose to the top of the timesheets with his first flying lap. However, as he went about beating Valtteri Bottas, who had gone four-tenths quicker, Hamilton suffered a terrifying brake failure, causing his Mercedes car to crash into the wall at turn 11 at high speed. A red flag was immediately shown, and Hamilton thankfully walked away from the shunt with nothing more than his pride bruised.
The session restarted once the debris had been cleared, with Rosberg – having yet to set a time – heading out immediately on a set of super-soft tires. He went fastest on his first lap on the option compound, and duly finished the session there, a full five-tenths clear of the rest of the field. Predictably, the Marussia drivers joined Ericsson and Caterham teammate Kamui Kobayashi in the dropzone, with Adrian Sutil and Pastor Maldonado also failing to make it through to Q2.
Rosberg continued to set the pace in the second part of qualifying, immediately setting the pace ahead of Bottas and Vettel. McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen put in a good first run to sit fourth, whilst Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez both found themselves in the dropzone with five minutes to go.
They eventually went out to better their times, but Raikkonen could not find enough time to move out of the dropzone. He will start tomorrow’s race from a disappointing 12th place. Perez managed to get into Q3 by a very narrow margin ahead of Jenson Button, who finished 11th. Jean-Eric Vergne, Esteban Gutierrez and Romain Grosjean were also eliminated, with the latter also having to serve a three-place grid drop carried over from the British Grand Prix.
The final session saw the drivers complete two runs on the super-soft tire in their bids for pole position, and Perez was the first to post a lap time. His initial benchmark of 1:19.395 was soon beaten when Rosberg showed up, the German going almost three seconds quicker. Bottas and Massa slotted into second and third place with their first efforts, but after the initial runs, it was clear that it would take something spectacular to beat Rosberg.
Although Bottas was up on the pole time through the second sector, he just fell short of Rosberg’s best effort, meaning that the German’s own inability to improve went unpunished. Williams once again finished as best of the rest behind Mercedes in second and third, with Kevin Magnussen finishing a fine fourth for McLaren. Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel locked out the third row for Red Bull ahead of Fernando Alonso and Daniil Kyat. The Force India pairing of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez rounded out the top ten.
With his fourth pole in five races, Rosberg now has a chance to cap off a perfect week. Since the British Grand Prix, he has got married, seen Germany win the FIFA World Cup, signed a new long term deal with Mercedes and now secured pole position for his home grand prix. However, he will need to convert it into a fourth win of the season tomorrow if he is to truly take control of this world championship.
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