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2019 German GP: Hamilton on Pole, Vettel Out

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Vettel Slow at 2019 German GP Qualifying
Photo: FORMULA 1 | YouTube

The German Grand Prix was a disaster for Sebastian Vettel last year, who had crashed out of the lead and has since never quite seemed to find his usual Formula One form. But he did look very quick in practice, giving hope that redemption at his home race was on the cards. That hope was quickly dashed, however, at the start of qualifying.

On the way to his first hot lap, Vettel reported an issue with the engine, and was forced to retire having failed to set a time. In other words, he’ll be starting at the back of the grid. To make matters worse, Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc — who had also looked quick — experienced a separate issue in the final qualifying session, meaning he’ll start tenth assuming no one ahead of him gets a grid penalty.

It was therefore fairly easy work for Lewis Hamilton to grab yet another pole position. Then again, Verstappen was able to get ahead of Hamilton’s teammate in the Honda-powered Red Bull, so maybe it wasn’t easy work after all.

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Notably, Ferrari’s double retirement allowed several drivers to place higher than they might normally be used to. But they had to work hard to get there. In the second qualifying session, the eight top drivers not driving for Mercedes, Ferrari, or Red Bull all set times within 0.28 seconds of each other.

Astoundingly, the gap between Nico Hülkenberg, who placed eighth in Q2, and Daniel Ricciardo, who placed 13th, was only 0.033 seconds. Several drivers were separated by only 0.003 seconds and Sergio Pérez, who was the last to make it into the top 10 to qualify for the final Q3 session, was just 0.01 seconds ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi. Talk about making every millisecond count.

Vettel will have to make a major recovery drive tomorrow to score any significant points, but should his car actually work, he’ll have the machinery to do it. “I don’t know what happened, something broke with the turbo and that was game over from there,” he said after his retirement in qualifying. “Obviously very bitter, I think the car was great and I lost out on a big chance but hopefully we’ll have a big one coming tomorrow.”

“I’m looking forward to the race but obviously it would’ve been nicer to start at the very front than the very back, but we’ll see what happens.”

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