A catastrophic brake failure for Lewis Hamilton overshadowed qualifying for Sunday’s German Grand Prix, in which his team-mate Nico Rosberg took pole position ahead of Williams man Valterri Bottas by 0.2 seconds. Hamilton’s brake failure took place with five minutes left on the clock of Q1, sending the Englishman – who was 2nd fastest at the time – into the barriers hard and crippling his F1W05 beyond recovery.
A red flag offered no hope of redemption for the winded Hamilton, though it gave Rosberg a chance to gather his wits before attempting a second, critical run after having made a mistake on his first and languishing at the tail end of the field. It was no good for Marcus Ericcson however, after mechanical problems with his Caterham couldn’t be fixed even with the extra time offered by the stoppage.
Force India had scraped through to Q2 by the skin of their teeth, but managed to get both cars safely into the top ten at the expense of Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button, who ended up 11th and 12th. Raikkonen’s elimination came as a surprise after his strong showing on Friday, but Button’s fate was less so after he had just a single hour this morning in FP3 to adapt to updates added to his car by McLaren overnight. Team-mate Magnussen by contrast had run the updates on Friday and made use of the extra three hours training time to progress impressively into the final shootout.
Q3 was not totally bereft of suspense as Bottas put pressure on Rosberg, but the Mercedes man weathered the storm and used his super-soft Pirelli tyres to good effect to beat off the Williams challenge, strengthened with Felipe Massa starting 3rd ahead of Magnussen. Daniel Ricciardo once again bested team-mate Sebastian Vettel, with Fernando Alonso a disappointing 7th ahead of Daniil Kvyat, whose exceeding of track limits stretched even the liberalism of Charlie Whiting’s stance on kerb-crossing this weekend. Hulkenberg and Perez rounded out the top ten, failing to improve their laptimes after an initial run on scrubbed super-softs.
CLASSIFICATION – Qualifying – German Grand Prix – 19th July 2014