Mercedes AMG Motorsport‘s Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas expressed sympathy towards Formula 1 rival Scuderia Ferrari, as technical issues truncated the fight between the teams in German Grand Prix qualifying.
Ferrari had the beating of Mercedes on Friday and Saturday morning at Hockenheim, before car ailments struck Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc in Qualifying 1 and 3 respectively.
An airflow problem to the turbo left Vettel out before he could set a timed lap in front of his home crowd, while Leclerc suffered a fuel issue at the start of Qualifying 3 and will start from tenth position.
Hamilton, who has been battling a fever and was almost replaced by Mercedes’ reserve Esteban Ocon, claimed pole position with a lap time of 1:11.767 – while Bottas could not join his team-mate on the front row and will start behind Red Bull Racing‘s Max Verstappen.
For its home grand prix, Mercedes has turned to a vintage look to celebrate 125 years in motorsport and new Daimler CEO Ola Kaellenius was present to see the team’s eighth pole position of the 2019 season.
“I’m super happy to be on pole, it’s such a special race for all of us,” said Hamilton.
“The whole team is dressed up this weekend to celebrate 125 years of motorsport and our 200th race which is really cool.
“We’ve got Ola, our new CEO here from Daimler, so I hope that I can deliver on a weekend where everyone is here.”
Hamilton described Ferrari’s misfortunes as “unfortunate” for F1 and admitted that his first run in Qualifying 3 could have been better without a slight mistake at Turn 8, despite failing to beat the time on his second effort.
“It’s not just unfortunate what happened to Ferrari today, but unfortunate for the sport too because it was building up to be a really exciting qualifying session,” he continued.
“I don’t know how close it would have been in the end, but they were quick all weekend.
“I was really happy with my first lap in Q3; I just lost a little bit of time in Turn 8.
“Position on the grid is really important here, so I’m grateful to be starting from pole and hopefully I can try to stay out in front tomorrow. “
Bottas echoed Hamilton’s view that Ferrari’s unreliability in qualifying was a “shame”, but said that he expects the Italian team to return to the front of the field over the course of the 67-lap race.
The Finn also said that he struggled in the major braking zones through the session and could not string a satisfactory lap together, resulting in a 0.362 second deficit to Hamilton.
“It was not an easy qualifying session for me today, I struggled with the consistency in the braking zones in Turn 2, 6 and 8 – all of the heavy braking events,” Bottas explained.
“I just didn’t have a consistent feeling under braking, so I couldn’t really put a good lap together.
“It certainly wasn’t the best session, but starting from third tomorrow is not a disaster either.
“It’s a shame what happened to Ferrari, but I’m sure they will be quick tomorrow.
“There’s also a chance of rain for tomorrow which would certainly make things interesting. It’s still all to play for and I’m looking forward to the race.”