Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel delivered a supreme final lap in a final blast in qualifying to claim pole position for his home German Grand Prix and with it triggering a huge cheer from the partisan crowd on hand to witness an intriguing duel in which title rivals Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton tripped up.
The car came to Vettel during the session when he found the sweet spot to deliver a stunning 1:11.212 in his final attempt to claim his 55th top spot start, the stands erupting with delight for the local hero.
It was a mighty effort three tenths quicker than his previous best and an outright record for the current layout of the legendary race track, and a whopping three seconds faster than pole set by Nico Rosberg in 2016 when F1 last visited.
Vettel said afterwards, “Thanks to the fans it was amazing to see so many Ferrari and German flags. It just kept getting better and I knew for the last lap I had a little bit more in more, I’m full of adrenaline but so happy.”
“Today is one of the best days in my career, with the fans waving German and Ferrari flags…” added Vettel who will be looking to win the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim for a second time on Sunday.
Next up was Valtteri Bottas who briefly topped the timing screens with his final run, but Vettel’s hot lap was two tenths better than the Mercedes driver. Credit to the Finn for digging deep, but at this point Ferrari seem to have the legs on their silver rivals.
Bottas reflected, “It was a good lap. I gave it all and unfortunately, they were a bit too quick today. The start is going to be crucial tomorrow, race pace wise I think we are going to be close.”
It was an early shower for teammate Lewis Hamilton who parked his car with a hydraulic problem shortly before the end of Q1, he was fifth fastest at that point but ended the day 14th and may drop down the order should grid penalties apply in the aftermath of the problem.
Kimi Raikkonen will start behind Vettel from third place, the veteran three tenths shy of his teammate’s pole-winning time.