Valtteri Bottas moved clear in a tight three-way battle to claim pole position for Formula 1’s Eifel Grand Prix at a chilly Nürburgring on Saturday.
After just one hour of track running at the venue, following Friday’s aborted sessions, the Mercedes drivers were challenged by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen throughout qualifying.
Verstappen held provisional pole position after the first runs with less than a tenth of a second covering the top three drivers.
The trio all improved on their final push laps but Bottas found the most time as he leapt clear with an effort of 1:25.269s.
He finished 0.256s in front of title leader Hamilton while Verstappen finished a mere 0.037s behind the Briton in third position.
Bottas’ lap brought to an end Hamilton’s five-round streak of pole positions but ensured Mercedes maintained its unbeaten spell in qualifying this season.
Leclerc shines for Ferrari
Ferrari tried making it through Q2 on Medium tyres but ultimately had to switch to Soft rubber for the final laps.
Four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel, victorious upon Formula 1’s last visit to Nürburgring in 2013, managed only a distant 11th place and failed to make it through.
But team-mate Charles Leclerc comfortably got into the top 10 and then qualified fourth, finishing ahead of Red Bull’s Alexander Albon, the duo split by just 0.022s.
Renault took sixth and seventh respectively, with Daniel Ricciardo once more in front of Esteban Ocon, though the gap between them was a mere 0.019s.
McLaren qualified eighth and 10th respectively, with Lando Norris in front of Carlos Sainz, the pair split by Racing Point’s Sergio Perez.
AlphaTauri qualified firmly mid-pack with Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat 12th and 13th respectively.
Hulkenberg makes last-minute F1 comeback
Lance Stroll felt unwell earlier on Saturday and sat out final practice while Hulkenberg made his way from Cologne to the Nürburgring, having been pencilled in for TV duties.
Hulkenberg arrived at the venue with a couple of hours to spare and received a rapid Covid-19 test, which was returned negative, allowing him access into the paddock.
It marked Hulkenberg’s third outing of the year with Racing Point, having filled in for Sergio Perez at the two Silverstone events, and he gradually got up to speed through Q1.
Hulkenberg qualified last of the 20 runners but improved to finish just two-tenths down on Kimi Raikkonen, within half a second of making Q2, and nine-tenths down on Perez.
Giovinazzi finally makes Q2
Antonio Giovinazzi failed to make it out of Q1 at the opening 10 events but he finally became the last driver in 2020 to secure a spot in Q2.
Giovinazzi scraped through to the second session by just 0.020s and did so at the expense of Haas’ Romain Grosjean, whose effort – which would have seen him comfortably through – was deleted for exceeding track limits.
Giovinazzi went on to qualify 14th, finishing ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, and came within two-tenths of Vettel’s time.
Alfa Romeo team-mate Raikkonen is set to become Formula 1’s most experienced starter on Sunday but will do so from a lowly 19th on the grid after failing to match the Italian’s pace.
Williams suffered a double Q1 elimination as George Russell and Nicholas Latifi qualified 17th and 18th respectively.
Russell preserved his unbeaten qualifying record against team-mates in Formula 1 with a gap of two-and-a-half tenths.
Sunday’s 60-lap Eifel Grand Prix is scheduled to start at 14:10 local time.
|3||M. Verstappen||Red Bull||1:25.562||0.293|
|5||A. Albon||Red Bull||1:26.047||0.778|
|9||S. Perez||Racing Point||1:26.704||1.435|
|14||A. Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1:26.936|
|19||K. Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||1:27.817|
|20||N. Hulkenberg||Racing Point||1:28.021|