What We Learned From Hockenheim Qualy
Saturday 19-July-2014 15:57
Lewis Hamilton crashed out, Nico Rosberg claimed another pole position and more from Saturday's action.
Teams were incredibly wary of the effects of heat as the session started, with an ambient of 32C and the track at 55C. This would rise to an unprecedented 57C by the end of the session. Temperatures are expected to be lower on Sunday with a band of thunderstorms approaching the circuit at some time in the race (but probably towards the end).
The most dramatic moment of Qualifying was definitely Lewis Hamilton's accident as a front disc failure sent his car heavily into the barriers in the Stadium section in Q1. The brake disc was new and represented the second brake failure for him since Canada.
The removal of Front and Rear Interconnected Suspensions - FRICS - for this race hasn't particularly upset the front-running order with Mercedes fastest, Williams second fastest, McLaren third, Red Bull fourth and Ferrari fifth. Mercedes were thought to have the most sophisticated FRICS system yet are still in front of Williams. McLaren have edged in front of Red Bull, and Ferrari have dropped back behind them both - however the extreme temperatures experienced in Qualifying won't be representative of races for the rest of the season.
Lewis had already set a time good enough to get him through to Q2 and so finished Qualifying in P16 despite having a car that was returning to the pits on a truck. P16 will be promoted to P15 once Esteban Gutierrez takes his grid-penalty for the accident with Maldonado at Silverstone.
BBC's commentator Three Times Le Mans Winner Allan McNish was feeling a bit shamefaced after his commentary for Radio 5 in Q1 which contained: "And Nico Rosberg is off! Nico Rosberg has left the track and hit the barriers hard...oh, sorry, that's Lewis Hamilton."
Nico Rosberg's latest pole of the 2014 season crowned a very good week for him. He announced a new multi-year Mercedes contract, got married and finished Saturday on pole, 14 places ahead of his team-mate.
Mercedes' Toto Wolff is worried by the lack of interest from German spectators at the team's home GP. The crowds on Saturday were small and only 50,000 spectators are expected on Sunday - this despite a German leading the World Championship in a German car, a current German World Champion and four German drivers in the race. It was in stark contrast to the last two races in Austria and Britain which were sell-outs on race day.
Kevin Magnussen's P4 in qualifying marked a significant improvement for the Woking team that had brought a new wing to try out on Friday. When the wing showed a good improvement, the team rushed out another for Jenson Button's car, which arrived at 6.00 am before Free Practice 3 started. Jenson could only qualify in P11.
Valtteri Bottas ended the session just 0.2 seconds behind polesitter Nico Rosberg. He was the only driver apart from Rosberg to put in a sub 1:17s lap and the only driver to make it through from Q1 without using a set of SuperSofts (even Rosberg had to use a set after running wide twice in the early stages).
Lewis Hamilton could well start the race on a set of new Soft tyres. The SuperSofts were lasting around 8 laps in the heat of Friday and although it's expected to be cooler on Sunday, don't be surprised if the Mercedes makes one of the later stops.