German F1 Grand Prix 2018 Qualifying: Sebastian Vettel Sets Record, Takes Pole

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJuly 21, 2018

HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY - JULY 21:  Top three qualifiers Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrari and Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Mercedes GP celebrate in parc ferme during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Germany at Hockenheimring on July 21, 2018 in Hockenheim, Germany.  (Photo by Will Taylor-Medhurst/Getty Images)
Will Taylor-Medhurst/Getty Images

Sebastian VettelΒ soared while Lewis Hamilton sunk on Saturday as the Ferrari star set a new track record at the Hockenheimring and took pole position after qualifying fastest for Sunday's 2018 Formula One German Grand Prix.

Vettel already holds an eight-point cushion in the driver standings but will have his chance to increase it further after setting a new track record in front of a home audience at the Hockenheimring:

Formula 1 @F1

But Vettel moves into P1 πŸš€ And it's a new track record to boot! 1:11.539 = fastest ever at Hockenheim #GermanGP πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺ #F1 https://t.co/hAsNdZ2Sty

Days after penning a new two-year contract with Mercedes, Hamilton was forced out of the Q2 running order after a hydraulic fault at the end of Q1, meaning he'll start 14th on the grid on Sunday.

Hamilton recorded a fast enough time to make it into second qualifying session before a complaint ended his afternoon. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo will start at the back of the grid due to penalties, meaning two heavyweights will be looking to charge forward.

The official Formula 1 account posted Saturday's qualification results:

Formula 1 @F1

Q3 CLASSIFICATION: What a lap from Sebastian Vettel πŸ”₯ #GermanGP πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺ #F1 https://t.co/UKS3K0oZXs

Qualifying Recap

Vettel could hardly have hoped for a better script to qualifying on Saturday as he flashed to the front of the grid, while main championship rival Hamilton saw his German Grand Prix chances wilt in front of him.

The conditions got dryer as the day wore on, and tensions climbed to a crescendo at the climax of Q3. Vettel broke the track record a first time with around three minutes left, and the German repeated the feat with a new best after Bottas had stormed in late to beat his original record.

Naturally, the German was elated with doing so in front of his home fans:

Formula 1 @F1

VETTEL: "The last lap I had a bit left in me, and I managed to squeeze everything out of the car. I'm still full of adrenaline!" πŸ˜… #GermanGP πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺ#F1 https://t.co/uV7LiQdpwg

Mercedes' No. 2 took second, two-tenths of a second behind fastest Vettel, whose Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen joined fellow Finn Bottas in the top three and will be hopeful of improving on Sunday.

Hamilton was showing early promise before a mechanical fault meant a nightmarish end to his qualifying effort, and it was clear what a toll it took on the Briton, with Vettel's chances of enhancing his lead now increased:

Formula 1 @F1

That's Lewis Hamilton's qualifying session over! He looks distraught 😒 #GermanGP πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺ #F1 https://t.co/ct37KXvzFS

It will be up to Max Verstappen to ensure Red Bull are well-represented near the front on Sunday after he qualified fourth, with Ricciardo facing a big task in charging from the rear.

Esteban Ocon, Brendon Hartley, Lance Stroll, Stoffel Vandoorne and Pierre Gasly were the first five to be eliminated after Q1, but Hamilton took up his spot among the ousted soon after.

Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso, Sergey Sirotkin and Marcus Ericsson all bowed out in Q2, meanwhile, leaving Haas pair Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean to find unlikely grid spots at fifth and sixth, respectively.

Sirotkin has failed to claim a point so far this season but will have his chance to end that duck after Hamilton and Ricciardo's penalties, as the Russian qualified to start 12th on Sunday.Β Β