After a rainy Friday, qualifying day for the Eifel Grand Prix dawned cool but sunny. Red Bull Racing looked to have a strong pace during practice and qualifying, but it wasn’t to be—Mercedes proved dominant once again with Valtteri Bottas taking home pole position.
“It’s such a nice feeling when you get it on the last lap on the last chance. The last lap in Q3 is what I needed to put it together,” Bottas said. “We were leaving more or less the same time from the garage. But there are still things you can try to do in the out lap, whether it be braking or something else.”
The action at the Nurburgring started well before the flag fell for qualifying. Both of Friday’s practice sessions were cancelled due to a thick fog that would have prevented a medical helicopter from taking off or landing. Then, Racing Point driver Lance Stroll sat out of Saturday’s pre-qualifying practice with a non-coronavirus illness. Nico Hulkenberg was called up once again; the German driver rushed from his home to the track to qualify for the race.
Unfortunately, his lack of practice showed. He wasn’t able to make it out of the first qualifying session after locking up his brakes on his final flying lap.
16. Romain Grosjean
17. George Russell
18. Nicholas Latifi
19. Kimi Raikkonen
20. Nico Hulkenberg
Q2 wasn’t full of many surprises. A few drivers tagged the gravel traps, but it wasn’t enough to cause chaos. The tire strategy was mixed, with some drivers opting to don the faster softs while others chose mediums, since they’d have to start the race with those tires. Softs, though, were almost a half second faster.
11. Sebastian Vettel
12. Pierre Gasly
13. Daniil Kyvat
14. Antonio Giovinazzi
15. Kevin Magnussen
The usual suspects battled it out for the top-10 qualifying positions, with Verstappen initially securing provisional pole to show that Red Bull Racing will be firmly in contention for the race.
But it would ultimately be Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas who took pole, setting a purple sector across the entire track to mark his best, fastest lap. It’s Bottas’ third pole of the year, and it maintains a 100 percent pole streak for Mercedes in 2020.
1. Valtteri Bottas
2. Lewis Hamilton
3. Max Verstappen
4. Charles Leclerc
5. Alex Albon
6. Daniel Ricciardo
7. Esteban Ocon
8. Lando Norris
9. Sergio Perez
10. Carlos Sainz Jr.
“It was interesting qualifying after missing the whole of yesterday,” Max Verstappen noted. “Overall, I think it was decent. In Q3, I started understeering a bit too much. When it’s so cold, you start understeering, which eats up the rubber. I think it cost me lap time. But we’re getting closer to Mercedes.”
Hamilton sounded far less optimistic:
“I don’t really know [what the biggest challenge will be]. I think, naturally, the graining in these conditions, with it being this cool, will be big. Whether it’s a one or two stop. Going around a safety car in these conditions will be tough. I need to get my head down."