The Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS took their ninth pole position out of ten races in the heat of Hockenheim, as Nico Rosberg claimed top spot for his home Grand Prix in Germany. Team-mate Lewis Hamilton was not so fortunate; a brake failure causing the Briton to spin into the barriers early in the first part of qualifying.
Rosberg took his fifth pole position of the season in excellent fashion, topping all three sessions and saving the best time for the end. Despite this, he felt the session was pretty testing, but he felt the car was coming more to him as the session went on.
“That was a quite challenging Qualifying session,” admitted Rosberg. “The option tyre lasts only for one quick lap and without FRIC we had a lot do adjust the set-up. I had a difficult start because I didn’t really feel comfortable with the balance in the braking zones but that gradually improved through the sessions. The quickest lap at the end was really a good one. So I’m really happy to start from the top position here at our home Grand Prix.
“But I can’t be too pleased about today because of the accident Lewis suffered, I’m glad he is fine. I would have preferred to have the normal fight for the pole with him. But I’m sure he will fly through the field, as our car is still the quickest out there. So our German fans will see an exciting race tomorrow.”
Team-mate Hamilton was unlucky to have a brake disc failure that pitched the Briton into the barriers, ending his session early. He had already done enough to reach the second part of qualifying, but ultimately ended fifteenth on the grid, although the team could elect to start Hamilton from the pit lane. It was a shame as Hamilton felt the car was running well, and was disappointed for the mechanics who had a late night (after breaking curfew) changing settings on the car.
“The car was feeling great today,” said Hamilton. “I braked in the same place as I have been doing and I suddenly lost brake pressure – it took me by surprise and the failure spun the car into the wall. It wasn’t a great feeling when that happened, you just have to take your hands off the wheel and brace for the impact, but thankfully I’m okay. My legs are a little bruised but I will be fine to race tomorrow; nothing is going to stop me getting in that car.
“I’m devastated for the guys because they worked so hard during the evening and late last night – I even got an email from my engineers at 01:00 and we were making changes to the set-up to get it just right, which paid off because the balance felt fantastic out there. Then we didn’t even get to do five laps.
“I’m not sure where we’ll start tomorrow in the race because that will depend on the damage to the car. But we’ll give it everything, hope for a slice of luck and aim for a recovery like I made at Silverstone. It’s definitely going to be a tough afternoon but I won’t be giving up.”
Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff was happy to see one of his drivers on pole position but was angry at the way the other was eliminated from the session early. He believed the brake disc failure for Hamilton was unacceptable, and insists the team will work hard to work out the cause of the failure to ensure it does not happen again.
“It was like night and day today,” said Wolff. “First of all, we’re all happy that Lewis is okay as it was quite a shunt. It’s just not acceptable to have a brake disc fail in that way after we fitted a new set this morning and we have to find out what we do about it. We will assess the car and see what the damage is in the end.
“We are very pleased with Nico being on pole. He did a very good job in difficult conditions because of the unexpected heat in combination with the supersoft tyre, which made it very tricky for everyone. Congratulations to Williams on P2 and P3 – they were pushing us very hard today.”