Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Hockenheimring, 2018

Vettel on pole at home as problem halts Hamilton in Q1

2018 German Grand Prix qualifying

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Sebastian Vettel has taken his home pole position at Hockenheim in a dominant display for Ferrari-powered cars, while Lewis Hamilton went out during Q1 with a damaged car.


Despite a wet FP3, the Hockenheimring had dried considerably by Q1 and lap times were immediately back down to where they were yesterday in FP2. Which was bad news for the Saubers and Williams that had benefited from the wet session – both Stroll and Sirotkin were immediately deep into the drop zone.

Others at risk included Perez, both Toro Rossos and both McLarens, with Alonso on the bubble for much of the session and Vandoorne struggling all the way through.

The shock of the session, however, was Lewis Hamilton struggling through two scrappy laps well back from his teammate or the Ferraris, skidding over kerbs at least twice. Whether an issue caused the offs or contact with the kerbs damaged his car, after the second excursion he said over the radio that he couldn’t change gear, seemingly stuck in fourth.

He would have made it through to further qualifying had he been able to get the car back to the pit lane but moments later he was seen getting out of it by Turn 10 and trying to push the car the remaining five turns back.

Mercedes confirmed in a radio message that the issue was hydraulic and that there was a risk of damage to the power unit, Hamilton stopping the car on their order. Technically his time put him into Q2, so Vandoorne, Stroll and both Toro Rossos were eliminated in the first qualifying, along with Esteban Ocon who was pushed into the drop zone by a fast lap from Sergey Sirotkin.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Esteban OconForce India-Mercedes1’13.720
17Pierre GaslyToro Rosso-Honda1’13.749
18Brendon HartleyToro Rosso-Honda1’14.045
19Lance StrollWilliams-Mercedes1’14.206
20Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren-Renault1’14.401


Daniel Ricciardo’s grid place penalties meant that he would start fifteenth at best this weekend, so opted not to run in Q2. With Hamilton also unable to set a time this session only three drivers were slated for elimination on-track.

Both Saubers had made it into Q2 again but Ericsson couldn’t match Leclerc’s pace, at least partly due to a lap halfway through the session when he span into gravel, littering it all over the track.

Clearing the circuit caused the session to be red-flagged, which caught multiple drivers midway through their hot lap and led to a substantial break in qualifying.

When the green flag was shown again, it was Alonso and Sirotkin who joined Ericsson in the drop zone – the two McLarens and Williams sandwiching the lower half of the grid.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Renault1’13.657
12Sergey SirotkinWilliams-Mercedes1’13.702
13Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’13.736
14Lewis HamiltonMercedesNo time
15Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG HeuerNo time


The track had been improving throughout qualifying, with seven tenths being gained in Q1 alone and strongly rising track temperatures, increasing more than five degrees until Q3.

Ferrari-powered cars had looked strongest here throughout the earlier qualifying sessions, with all but Ericsson making Q3 and Raikkonen and Vettel having topped Q1 times.

With Hamilton and Ricciardo already out of the top ten, it initially looked like Bottas might be able to redeem Mercedes’ fortunes with a late-session fast lap of 1’11.416, over a tenth up on Raikkonen’s best time.

However, Vettel responded with a 1’11.212, comfortably taking pole for his home race.

Magnussen claimed best of the rest for Ferrari-powered Haas, a second back with a 1’12.200 and Ferrari junior Leclerc was able to beat one of only two Mercedes-powered cars in the top ten, pushing Sergio Perez down to last in Q3.

Top ten in Q3

2Sebastian VettelFerrari1’11.212
4Valtteri BottasMercedes1’11.416
3Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’11.547
5Max VerstappenRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’11.822
7Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’12.200
8Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’12.544
6Nico HulkenbergRenault1’12.560
6Carlos SainzRenault1’12.692
9Charles LeclercSauber-Ferrari1’12.717
10Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’12.774

2018 German Grand Prix

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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22 comments on “Vettel on pole at home as problem halts Hamilton in Q1”

  1. The only driver who failed to beat the 2016 pole time was Vandoorne, LOL.

    1. That’s a great stat – although admittedly not for poor Stoffel!

  2. Great lap by Seb, it he wants to win this WDC he needs this win and keep Bottas behind.

  3. Yes, that’s what I’m talking about!

  4. Vettel should keep that helmet forever

  5. jesus, DC interview was so lame… if kimi tomorrow he is going to be seb rear gunner.. super low and lack of class

    1. Indeed, I cringed.

      1. at least Kimi quickly put DC in his place with his response

  6. With the last Ferrari spec all ferrari powered cars have made an incredible jump forward in the timetable.
    Poor Hulkenberg, he was just 0,016 behind grosjean.

    1. That was foreordained. The Hulk always qualifies 7th

  7. I think the issue Lewis had turns that race crucial for Vettel. He won’t have a chance like that so often. So he’d better seize the opportunity. It would be like Silverstone-2017, the first heavy knockdown Vettel suffered.

  8. Another DIVA moment…

  9. So impressed by MAG (and Haas) – he is Really doing an excellent job this season. GRO was SMASHED by 4 tenth!!!!! …and 7-3 in the internal qualify…

    Im not shure if MAG and not LEC should have that RAI seat…

    Q5 is the best result ever by Haas..

    1. I kind of agree.

      If it was me, I’d keep Kimi for another year and put LEC in the Haas with MAG and let them duel it out for the Ferrari seat for the year after.

      1. Sergey Martyn
        22nd July 2018, 6:51

        Agree. And if they have decided yet to sack Kimi after this season it’s time to replace GRO with LEC right now.

      2. Yes you are so right- just wrote the same somewhere. LEC is judged against ERI – not the fastest driver on grid I suppose. He was driving the only Ferrari powered car that didn’t reach Q3 this qualify…

    2. MAG is developing into a real quality albeit extra feisty driver; but it seems to me he’ll be stuck in this midfield role forever.

      1. Don’t forget his young age – is he 24/25 y.o. ? Thats same age as GIO who isn’t even a established driver yet.
        There could be a VET, RAI, RIC retirering – or maybe a midfield team will become a topteam – Renault or Mclaren might jump to be topteams again.. they will need drivers…
        But agree that he is a little locked for now…

  10. Nice writeup, Hazel. I’m glad I didn’t miss this qualifying session, it turned out to be a cracker, especially Bottas’ Q3 run. Sirotkin also impressed with his qualifying, not only outshining Stroll but also the high position he put his car in.

    I look forward to what the weather has to offer tomorrow.

  11. Not a bad qualifying session. More gravel than I have ever seen. First time I watched in UHD – very nice (although had to endure RTL commentary with their annoying Vettel bias). Hamilton should be able to climb to 4th or 5th, and Ricciardo to 6th, so despite the track we will see lots of overtakes tomorrow (if maybe not the most exciting ones).

    Season seems to be leaning in Vettel’s favour at the moment, but it is still a long way to go.

  12. Hmm HAM and RIC will be around 1 sec faster per lap. If there is 70 laps thats about 1 minut… I would say a 4 th. Is possible – hardest part will be overtaking VES, MAG and GRO… could rip the car…

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