Nico Rosberg will start from pole position at his home Grand Prix in Germany as he looks to take back the lead in the Formula 1 drivers' championship. Rosberg has finished ahead of Lewis Hamilton in every session at Hockenheim this weekend and laid down a fine final lap in qualifying to get the better of his Mercedes teammate by 0.107 seconds. Behind the Mercedes duo will be the two Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, with the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel locking up the third row in fifth and sixth.
Hamilton took top spot in the F1 championship standings for the first time in 2016 after making it five wins in six races in Hungary last weekend. But it has been the perfect response from Rosberg so far at the German Grand Prix. And, unlike some of his pole positions this season, this time Rosberg beat his teammate on pure racing merit, without the need for a helping hand from any technical issues for Hamilton, or, like in Hungary, a yellow-flag controversy.
“It was a great feeling,” Rosberg, who was hampered by a throttle problem in practice three, said in the post-qualifying press conference. “Just a great lap. Not only was it just one lap that I had but I also had extra fuel to make sure that I would have an extra shot if a mistake or something happens. So I had fuel for three laps. So that was some more time in the bag there, so I was really satisfied with that one. That was really cool.”
Hamilton suffered a costly lock-up on his final lap to fall short of his teammate. But the three-time world champion was eager to play down the significance of the error.
“It’s been a good weekend, I had no problems,” he said. “I had the pace today I just didn’t finish it off in the last lap. I didn’t really have much of a lock-up. It was subtle; I didn’t lose any time.”
There will be a four-week summer break after the race in Germany, yet Hamilton insists it won't be decisive who goes into the hiatus with the advantage.
“I think the importance is not particularly relevant,” he added. “We’ve had, what, five out of six races wins, so it’s been a good mid-stint of the season, and hopefully tomorrow we get the first or second and that’ll still be great. We’ll still be in good position. Of course, every race you approach to win.”
It was another positive day for Red Bull, with Ricciardo qualifying just 0.363 seconds back of Rosberg's pole time. And the Australian, who out-qualified his teammate Verstappen for a seventh time in eight races together, believes his car could fare even better on race day.
“I felt that, on low fuel yesterday, Mercedes had a pretty good buffer over everyone and the long run pace we looked to be closer than that, so that was giving us a bit of optimism coming into Sunday,” he said. “Obviously today we’ve got a bit closer on one-lap pace than we were yesterday so let’s see. Hopefully it translates into something tomorrow. Even to put a little bit of pressure on them at some point in the race would be nice.”
Red Bull now look primed to go above Ferrari and take second place in the constructors' standings. It has been another miserable weekend for the Italian team so far, which started with the departure of technical director James Allison. It was particularly disappointing for four-time F1 world champion Vettel, who has recently been linked with a move away from Ferrari and will now start behind his teammate.
There were struggles, too, for former Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso. After the joy of both McLaren drivers making it into Q3 last time out, Alonso will start from 14th position, two places behind teammate Jenson Button.
F1 Germany Qualifying Results
1. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
3. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
6. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
7. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India)
8. Valtteri Bottas (Williams)
9. Sergio Perez (Force India)
10. Felipe Massa (Williams)
11. Esteban Gutierrez (Haas)
12. Jenson Button (McLaren)
13. Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso)
14. Fernando Alonso (McLaren)
15. Romain Grosjean (Haas)
16. Jolyon Palmer (Renault)
17. Kevin Magnussen (Renault)
18. Pascal Wehrlein (Manor)
19. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso)
20. Rio Haryanto (Manor)
21. Felipe Nasr (Sauber)
22. Marcus Ericsson (Sauber)
Race Time: 8 a.m. EDT
TV Channel: NBCSN
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra