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GP Week : Issue 186
saturday morning in the Nurburgring was glorious, with sunny skies and warm track temperatures that provided ideal conditions for a Red Bull domination of FP3. And while sebastian Vettel’s first July win is still in the future, the defending world champion was seven-tenths clear of the opposition by the end of the morning practice session. As has been the case all weekend, FP3 saw nothing in the way of driver incidents, although Pastor Maldonado provided some pre-session drama for the team when a KERS failure on his car led to a small fire that was quickly contained. The afternoon continued bright and sunny, and when the pitlane opened for qualifying the air temperature was 23 degrees and the track temperature was 36 degrees. It was a calm start to Q1, with a few minutes of silence before the cars started pouring onto the track. Half-way through the session it was Daniel Ricciardo who topped the timesheets for Toro Rosso with a 1m31.081s lap that put him ahead of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. In P4 was Jean-Eric Vergne, completing the unexpected Toro Rosso- Mercedes sandwich. Jenson Button was the last driver to set a timed lap, crossing the line in a P6-worthy 1m31.181s with just over two minutes remaining. With thirty seconds remaining, Felipe Massa set the benchmark time of 1m30.547s, heading a tightly packed list that saw a mere eight-tenths covering the gap between P4 and P17. With Button, Webber, and Vettel yet to complete timed laps, the middle of Q2 saw the dropout zone comprised of those three plus Esteban Gutierrez, Adrian Sutil, Ricciardo, and Perez. As expected, Vettel took top honours, with Webber in P3 behind Hamilton. Alonso took the top spot with one minute remaining, before being dethroned by Massa. The final minute was tense, with Raikkonen saving himself from the dropout zone after the chequered flag fell, and Rosberg knocked out in Q2 while sitting in the pits. Raikkonen was the first driver to set a representative time in Q3, but the Finn was eclipsed by Vettel who was in turn beaten by Hamilton. But the gap between Hamilton and Vettel measured just shy of a tenth, and both drivers returned to the pits with time remaining in which to run again. As the flag fell, Vettel took provisional pole from Hamilton by a few thousandths, and the Briton responded by shaving an extra tenth off the Red Bull driver’s time, claiming a home pole position for Mercedes. QUALIFYING 1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1m29.398s 2. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1m29.501s 3. Mark Webber (Red Bull) 1m29.608 4. Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) 1m29.892s 5. Romain Grosjean (Lotus) 1m29.959s 6. Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) 1m30.528s 7. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 1m31.126s 8. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 1m31.209s 9. Jenson Button (McLaren) NO TIME SET 10. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) NO TIME SET 11. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1m30.326 12. Paul di Resta (Force India) 1m30.697s 13. Sergio Perez (McLaren) 1m30.933s 14. Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber) 1m31.010s 15. Adrian Sutil (Force India) 1m31.010s 16. Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) 1m31.104s 17. Valtteri Bottas (Williams) 1m31.693s 18. Pastor Maldonado (Williams) 1m31.707s 19. Charles Pic (Caterham) 1m32.937s 20. Jules Bianchi (Marussia) 1m33.063s 21. Giedo van der Garde (Caterham) 1m33.734s 22. Max Chilton (Marussia) 1m34.098s LEWIS HOT ... THE GRId 28 GPWEEK.com // 28 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> GERMANY