|Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG|
A Formula 1 season officially overcame its halfway point last week in Hungary, the 2016 tour reaches the Hockenheimring in Germany. For only the third time since 1950 and just the second time occurring when part of the Formula 1 calendar, the German Grand Prix was cancelled last year as plans to alternate the race with the Nürburgring fell through.
Returning to the 16-turn, 4.574-kilometer Hockenheim track, home country favourite Mercedes AMG has been fast but the final Saturday practice presented a time differential of just 0.164 seconds between the top four drivers. The two Mercedes AMG cars held a minor gap on Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari in the tune-up ahead of Saturday's qualifying. Despite the close laps set by a Red Bull TAG Heuer and Ferrari, the fight for the pole position ahead of Sunday's 67-lap main event was maintained between Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg throughout the time trial session.
As qualifying commenced on the Hockenheimring, the Mercedes AMG immediately demonstrated their supremacy in front of a welcoming German audience. Hot off his fifth victory of the season in Hungary, Lewis Hamilton led Q1 and Q2 sessions of German Grand Prix qualifying. Holding an advantage of 0.242 seconds in Q1 over Nico Rosberg, the lap time interval shrank to just 0.091 seconds after Q2. In the deciding Q3 session, Rosberg overcame an electrical problem to post one meaningful timed run. Recording a 1-minute, 14.363-second lap time, Nico Rosberg was victorious in qualifying to claim the German Grand Prix pole. This year's pole setting time in Q3 is almost 2.2 seconds faster than the 2014 qualifying time. That last German Grand Prix pole was captured by Nico Rosberg en route to a 2014 win. With a fast lap 0.107 seconds slower than his teammate's car, Lewis Hamilton's secures a front row start allowing Mercedes AMG to cement their 7th front 1-2 domination in 2016 Formula 1 competition.
The top-10 that proceeded into Q3 was represented by both drivers of five teams. While Mercedes AMG locked-up the front row, Red Bull Racing, Ferrari, Force India and Williams Martini Racing make up the first five rows of Sunday's race in Hockenheim. The second row of the 2016 German Grand Prix will be dominated by the Red Bull Racing team while the third row is an all-Ferrari matching. Daniel Ricciardo leads Max Verstappen while Kimi Raikkonen found his advantage over 2013 German Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel.
While Nico Hulkenberg posted a 7th fastest time in the final qualifying session, the driver for Force India was demoted one position after a mistake with tire labeling led to a penalty. On the grid, Hulkenberg will start 8th while the Williams-Mercedes driven by Valtteri Bottas receives the 7th place spot. The second Force India-Mercedes is found in 9th place. The difference in Q3 qualifying times between the 7th place and 9th place cars were just 0.027 seconds. Rounding out the top-10 for the German Grand Prix is the Williams race car of Felipe Massa.
Along with Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz Jr and Romain Grosjean have also lost grid positions after the time trial session had ended. Sainz Jr was penalized to a 15th place starting position when it was ruled the Toro Rosso impeded Felipe Massa's on-track momentum in Q2. Placing 15th after the Q2 session, Romain Grosjean driving for Haas F1 Team has suffered a costly transmission issue in the track's final practice. The gearbox problem required the team to swap it out ahead of qualifying resulting in a five-grid place penalty for the Frenchman.
The 12th race on the 21-race Formula 1 schedule for 2016, the German Grand Prix is set for a 2 PM local start time (8 AM in the eastern time zone.
2016 Formula 1German Grand PrixStarting Lineup
Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine
1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG Heuer
4 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG Heuer
5 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
6 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
7 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
8 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
9 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
10 19 Felipe Massa Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
11 9 Esteban Gutierrez Haas F1 Team Ferrari
12 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda
13 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda
14 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault Renault
15 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
16 20 Kevin Magnussen Renault Renault
17 28 Pascal Wehrlein Manor Mercedes-Benz
18 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
19 98 Rio Haryanto Manor Mercedes-Benz
20 8 Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari
21 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari
22 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari