Valtteri Bottas snatched pole position for 2020 Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring on a day in which teams struggled to grapple with cold temperatures, after Friday’s practice sessions were abandoned due to low visibility.
Bottas topped the only practice session of this weekend before struggling to nail his Qualifying until he produced a 1m 25.269 at the flag ahead of Lewis Hamilton to snatch pole as Mercedes achieved a front-row lockout at their home race.
Max Verstappen pushed both Mercedes throughout the day but had to settle for third ahead of Charles Leclerc and Alex Albon, whilst Nico Hulkenberg unexpectedly returned to Racing Point at short notice and qualified in 20th position after Lance Stroll fell ill.
Now discover the full story of today’s action in our roundup of Practice and Qualifying plus full results.
Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen were the first of several drivers including Hamilton who immediately hit the track at start of session under overcast clouds in what was the only practice ahead of Qualifying after Friday’s visibility washout.
Max Verstappen set the initial pace but his first effort was deleted for track limits, leaving Sergio Perez briefly top with a 1m 32.337 until the Dutchman went 1.761 seconds quicker on his next lap and continued to lower his lap time during a lengthy first stint, finishing with a 1m 28.684 to top the opening ten minutes from Alex Albon and Esteban Ocon.
Several drivers including the Mercedes duo of Hamilton plus Bottas however were focused on a blended run of race simulations and single flying laps which saw the pack continuously shuffle behind Verstappen, as the top three ultimately stayed the same come the halfway mark with Daniel Ricciardo in fourth ahead of Perez.
Grosjean was the first driver to make the leap to softs with Ocon following suit and going quickest a minute later with a 1m 27.634 which was soon bettered by Lando Norris by just 0.003s, despite locking his front left on exit of the final corner.
Ricciardo and Verstappen then went top before Bottas produced a 1m 26.968 to go top with 15 minutes left, although he eventually improved to a session-topping 1m 26.225 with eight minutes left.
Hamilton settled for second at the flag after setting his best time on his second soft tyre run after getting caught out by a spin for Williams’ Nicholas Latifi who lost his rear on entry to the final corner, only to then briefly stall as he re-joined the track.
Charles Leclerc claimed third for Ferrari ahead of Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel, Norris, Perez. Ricciardo, Albon and Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly who rounded out the top ten.
George Russell finished 17th fastest for Williams despite going for a rough bounce across the grass on the exit of the final chicane midway through the session.
Finally, Stroll sat out the session due to illness and was eventually replaced pre-Qualifying by Nico Hulkenberg, of who had previously partnered the Canadian in both Silverstone rounds after Perez tested positive for Coronavirus.
Having been called up to replace Stroll at short notice, Hulkenberg posted a 1m 32.190 on his first timed lap before focusing on getting another grip on his Racing Point, having previously driven for the team at Silverstone this season albeit for Perez not Stroll.
Hamilton meanwhile set the early pace with a 1m 26.703 but Verstappen set the Q1 topping time in the eighth minute of a 1m 26.319, whilst the elimination zone was comprised of; Kevin Magnussen, Raikkonen, Latifi, Antonio Giovinazzi and Hulkenberg.
Latifi managed to briefly lift himself out of the drop zone with a 1m 27.947 but eventually wound up 18th at the flag with a 1m 27.812 to put him ahead of Raikkonen and Hulkenberg, yet behind Russell and Grosjean who missed out on Q2 by 0.030s to Giovinazzi.
Mercedes opted to conduct their opening Q2 runs on mediums with Hamilton posting a 1m 26.183, which was 0.771s quicker than Bottas’ effort on the same tyre.
Leclerc, Perez then Norris soon usurped Bottas’ P2 position just prior to Verstappen setting the quickest first run time of 1m 25.720, as Vettel found himself 11th alongside Giovinazzi, Magnussen, Kvyat and Gasly who occupied the five elimination spots.
Gasly however was on used tyres for his first run but the Frenchman eventually overhauled Kvyat to qualify 12th on the grid, with both Alpha Tauri drivers displacing Giovinazzi and Magnussen down to 14th and 15th on grid respectively.
Vettel meanwhile missed out by 0.374s to Renault’s Esteban Ocon who was the last driver to qualify for Q3, whilst up front, both Mercedes drivers improved on their soft tyre runs with Hamilton ending Q2 top with a 1m 25.390 and 0.077s ahead of Verstappen.
Carlos Sainz led Norris out as McLaren sent their drivers straight out with Hamilton and Bottas following suit, which would be the initial top four order in reverse after their opening runs with Bottas on provisional pole with 1m 25.812.
Verstappen then swept through a minute later to put his Red Bull on provisional pole from Bottas by 0.068s as Albon and Leclerc settled into fourth and fifth respectively, ahead of Perez’s mid-session solo run which put him sixth with 1m 26.704.
Ultimately, it was Bottas who found the biggest amount of time on his final run to claim pole with a 1m 25.269 which was 0.256s ahead of Hamilton as Verstappen encountered understeering which put him third and 0.037s behind the second-placed Brit.
Leclerc managed to edge Albon out by 0.012s to claim fourth as Ricciardo, Ocon, Norris, Perez and Sainz rounded out the top ten grid positions for tomorrow’s race.
Speaking post-session on achieving his third pole of this 2020 season with a stunning last lap, Bottas said; “It’s such a nice feeling when you get it done the last lap. The last lap in Q3 was spot on. It was nice to get it together.”
|1||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1m 26.225|
|2||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+ 0.136|
|3||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 0.456|
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+ 0.671|
|5||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+ 0.813|
|6||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 0.942|
|7||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||+ 1.020|
|8||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||+ 1.167|
|9||Alex Albon||Red Bull||+ 1.224|
|10||Pierre Gasly||Alpha Tauri||+ 1.303|
|11||Esteban Ocon||Renault||+ 1.409|
|12||Daniil Kvyat||Alpha Tauri||+ 1.570|
|13||Carlos Sainz||McLaren||+ 1.699|
|14||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+ 1.731|
|15||Romain Grosjean||Haas||+ 1.890|
|16||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+ 2.068|
|17||George Russell||Williams||+ 2.118|
|18||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+ 2.145|
|19||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 2.716|
|20||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||No Time Set|
|1||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1m 25.269|
|2||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+ 0.256|
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+ 0.293|
|4||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 0.766|
|5||Alex Albon||Red Bull||+ 0.778|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||+ 0.954|
|7||Esteban Ocon||Renault||+ 0.973|
|8||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 1.189|
|9||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||+ 1.435|
|10||Carlos Sainz||McLaren||+ 1.440|
|11||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||1m 26.738|
|12||Pierre Gasly||Alpha Tauri||+ 0.038|
|13||Daniil Kvyat||Alpha Tauri||+ 0.110|
|14||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+ 0.198|
|15||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+ 0.387|
|16||Romain Grosjean||Haas||1m 27.562|
|17||George Russell||Williams||+ 0.002|
|18||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 0.250|
|19||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+ 0.255|
|20||Nico Hulkenberg||Racing Point||+ 0.459|