Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg has claimed pole position for his home grand prix, in track temperatures that were just as hot as those seen yesterday. Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were second and third on the grid for Williams.
Bottas and Hamilton were the only drivers to progress to Q2 without using the P Zero Red supersoft tyre, which all the other drivers – including Rosberg – used. From then on, all the drivers used the softest compound in the range for the rest of qualifying, which was around a second faster than the P Zero Yellow soft tyre, also nominated for Hockenheim.
The biggest talking point though remains the weather, with the current hot weather expected to be replaced by thundery rain showers tomorrow afternoon.
Rosberg was also quickest in the final free practice session this morning, going six-tenths of a second faster than his team mate Lewis Hamilton, who crashed due to a mechanical failure in Q1 but still managed to qualify in 16th position. Although he is out of position, this gives him a completely free choice of tyres for the race and the opportunity to use strategy to his advantage.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “We saw a dramatic qualifying session with track temperature that was, if anything, even higher than it had been yesterday. As we expected, the super-soft was the tyre to qualify on, being about a second quicker than the soft. This obviously affected the qualifying strategy, with all the drivers apart from Bottas and Hamilton using the super-soft even in Q1. Teams are obviously thinking ahead to the race tomorrow, but with a possibility of heavy showers, it will be hard to make any firm predictions for a strategy. The teams that have managed to save tyres for the race may not be able to reap the benefit of them if the wet weather tyres are instead needed. And as the teams don’t really have any relevant wet weather data for Hockenheim, this would certainly be a very interesting turn of events.”
The Pirelli strategy predictor: For the 67-lap German Grand Prix, a two-stop strategy is theoretically fastest, although there is not a big time difference to a three-stopper. Ultimately, the decision will come down to degradation and wear rate – which will also be influenced by track temperature – and external race circumstances, such as traffic. If it rains, the strategy will have to be reactive rather than premeditated. Our prediction for the quickest strategy is supersoft(S)supersoft(P1)soft(P2), stopping on laps 18 and 38. A three-stop sprint strategy could also work, but the two-stopper is more likely.(Pirelli)