HOCKENHEIM, Germany – Nico Rosberg gave the home fans exactly what they wanted as he raced to pole position in Germany on Saturday.
His Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton had another miserable qualifying session, crashing out in Q1 when his right-front brake disc failed entering the Sachskurve.
Behind Rosberg, Williams claimed second and third with Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, while McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo completed the top five.
By the time Q1 got underway the track temperature was already way higher than in practice. That made it almost certain that error-free, single-lap runs on the super-soft Pirellis were at a premium. Despite that, Rosberg, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado and Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat all had off-track moments during the session.
Hamilton’s accident was the big news of Q1, occurring just after the Briton had set the second fastest time and then a pair of purple sectors on his next flying lap. A puff of smoke from the right-front tire was just visible before the Mercedes snapped into a spin under braking. Hamilton, who was shaken but uninjured in the accident, reported over the radio that something had failed as he’d hit the brakes.
After a brief red-flag period while Hamilton’s stricken car was recovered, the session resumed with Rosberg immediately beating Bottas’s 1:18.215 to go fastest with 1:17.631, to the intense relief of the Mercedes chiefs.
The German headed the Red Bulls of Ricciardo and Vettel, as Bottas starred as the only drive to set his time on soft rubber. Further back, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg just squeaked into Q2 ahead of Sauber’s Adrian Sutil. Jules Bianchi was 18th for Marussia, then came Pastor Maldonado’s Lotus, Kamui Kobayashi’s Caterham and Max Chilton’s Marussia. Marcus Ericsson didn’t make it out as Caterham were unable to repair his car after a hydraulic leak from the throttle.
Q2 was a torrid session for McLaren’s Jenson Button, who seemed to have done enough for 10th with 1:18.193, only to be pushed down to 11th at the last moment when Sergio Perez improved to 1:18.161 for Force India. Behind Button, Kimi Raikkonen also failed to get through, as did Jean-Eric Vergne for Toro Rosso Esteban Gutierrez in the lead Sauber and Romain Grosjean in the lead Lotus.
Right at the end Kevin Magnussen jumped his McLaren up to fourth on 1m 17.214s, leaving Ricciardo to beat Vettel yet again; the Australian improved to 1m 17.273s, but the reigning champion didn’t enhance his first run.