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German F1 Grand Prix 2016 Qualifying: Saturday's Results, Times and Final Grid

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJuly 30, 2016

In this photo taken with slow shutter speed Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during a Formula One training session in Hockenheim, Germany, Saturday, July 30, 2016. The German Formula One Grand Prix takes place in Hockenheim on Sunday, July 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
Michael Probst/Associated Press

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg took pole position for the 2016 German F1 Grand Prix ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton after an eventful third qualifying session on the famous Hockenheim track on Saturday.

Rosberg aborted his first lap of that session, allowing Hamilton to snatch provisional pole. But the German's restart let him take the signature position, before Hamilton sluggishly went through the middle sector on the final lap.

The win had extra special significance for Rosberg, coming 30 years after his father took pole at the German Grand Prix, according to Puma Motorsport.

Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo helped Red Bull finish ahead of Ferrari in the battle for third and fourth.

The official F1 website provided the grid classification after qualifying:

Formula 1 @F1

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION - END OF QUALIFYING ROS edges out HAM Red Bulls edge out Ferraris #GermanGP #Quali https://t.co/YueoVFY6Tt

     

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Recap

There was some controversy before driving began, however, with Hamilton questioned by the stewards over an unsafe release from the pits during the third practice session. Ultimately, punishment was meted out to the driver's team, rather than Hamilton himself, as Mercedes confirmed via Twitter:

Mercedes-AMG F1 @MercedesAMGF1

UPDATE: Team fined for unsafe release. No penalty for @LewisHamilton #F1istZurueck #GermanGP #F1 #Hockenheim https://t.co/LAe2590MHw

Mercedes were probably happier to pay the fine than see Hamilton suffer a grid drop. The team needed both their premier drivers competing after Red Bull and Ferrari had closed the gap at the front during the practice races.

Rosberg still took all three of those sessions, though, and soon established himself as the man to beat in qualifying, even if he was racing on the slower, soft tyres. Hamilton did the same and finished the first session two-tenths of a second quicker than his team-mate and professional rival.

The team were naturally very pleased at how their cars performed on the less fashionable tyres:

Mercedes-AMG F1 @MercedesAMGF1

That is LIGHTNING fast on the Soft @pirellisport tyres! Unbelievable job boys! 👏👏👏👏👏 #F1istZurueck #GermanGP #F1 #Hockenheim

By contrast, Red Bull went with the supersofts from the start. Yet, even with the swifter tyres, Ricciardo couldn't really get near Mercedes' familiar leading pair.

In the end, Hamilton made the most of Q1, per Channel 4 F1:

Channel 4 F1® @C4F1

Advantage Hamilton in #Q1 - P1 with a 1m15.243s, quarter of a second clear of ROS #GermanGP 🇩🇪 #C4F1 https://t.co/ImmaVac6rT

The speed of both Hamilton and Rosberg, even on the soft tyres, was an ominous sign for the rest of the field.

Among those who went out, Daniil Kvyat of Toro Rosso finished in P19, while Renault's Kevin Magnussen was also eliminated. Kvyat in particular wasn't shy about venting his frustration, per BBC Sport's Andrew Benson:

Andrew Benson @andrewbensonf1

"That was not enough?" Kvyat says. "It was not enough. Carlos P12." "Unbelievable. What the XXXX is going on?" https://t.co/OQHjEHGQqY

Finally ready to unleash the speed they'd held in reserve during Q1, Hamilton and Rosberg were the first on to the track for Q2 with their cars equipped with the supersofts.

The gain on the new tyres wasn't much different, though. Nor was the result, with Hamilton once again pacing Rosberg. Grand Prix Times showed how little there was to choose between the two:

Motorsport Week @MotorsportWeek

Rosberg produces the initial benchmark in Q2 with a 1:14.839, however Hamilton pips his team-mate with a 1:14.748 to go faster! #F1

A little further back, Max Verstappen overtook Red Bull ally Ricciardo to move into P3. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen then put further distance between the Red Bull team-mates when he took P4 after setting a very solid lap.

Raikkonen and fellow Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel were on the supersofts, and the effect was obvious, with both cars responding well to the added speed.

McLaren bowed out after Q2 with Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button not making the top 10.

The provisional classification at the end of Q2 showed Hamilton's advantage before the final battle for pole, per the F1 official site:

Formula 1 @F1

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION: END OF Q2 Top ten shootout is up next... 🚥 #GermanGP #F1istZurueck #Quali 🇩🇪 https://t.co/9eo3bGPITQ

Vettel got out first in Q3 but didn't make the smoothest progress round the corners as he set the first lap. He couldn't establish a pace to scare Mercedes.

In fact, it was only a trip to the pits on the first lap that slowed Rosberg and allowed Hamilton to roar ahead and secure provisional pole. The German aborted due to an electronic failure:

Mercedes-AMG F1 @MercedesAMGF1

UPDATE: @nico_rosberg could not complete his lap owing to an electronic error. He should, however, be fine for his second run... #F1

In the meantime, Raikkonen and Ricciardo took advantage. Yet Rosberg had the track almost to himself and took full advantage to stage a frantic recovery and make time on the leaders.

He wrapped up a flying lap to take pole, as Hamilton couldn't quite make up the difference on the final sector.

Rosberg had the confirmation relayed to him by his delighted team, per Channel 4 F1:

Channel 4 F1® @C4F1

"You have pole position Nico, fantastic lap in the circumstances" - @MercedesAMGF1 📻 #GermanGP 🇩🇪 #C4F1 https://t.co/Xib5ofljeg

Afterwards, Rosberg expressed his satisfaction at how he rebounded under tough circumstances on the final lap:

Formula 1 @F1

ROS: "It was a great lap - especially as I was carrying extra fuel. I'm really, really happy" #GermanGP https://t.co/1cBDja84YG

A naturally disappointed Hamilton still took some pride in his efforts this weekend and also confirmed there hadn't been a problem with his car late on, according to Sky Sports F1:

Sky Sports F1 🏎 @SkySportsF1

"It's been a good weekend. I didn't really have much of a lock-up," says Lewis. https://t.co/CkqLNAZAQx #GermanGP https://t.co/7lX7q1VwoI

Hamilton then turned his thoughts toward the race proper:

Formula 1 @F1

HAM (on Sunday's race): "Should be a good day for @MercedesAMGF1... we'll race it out" #GermanGP 🇩🇪 #F1 https://t.co/05OKsy4Y3O

Ricciardo echoed the sentiment after praising Red Bull's qualifying performance:

Formula 1 @F1

RIC: "We're close enough. Being within half a second in qualifying makes it interesting for us race-wise" #GermanGP https://t.co/opgGZwp77a

Red Bull did boost their credentials as Mercedes' most credible rivals. Still, it's unlikely Ricciardo and Verstappen can make the world championship race anything more than a straight fight between Hamilton and Rosberg.

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