The Track - Nürburgring
The classic Nürburgring has returned after seven years and it seems that this challenging track will give us a great race tomorrow. Mostly known for its slippery surface which exposes the cars to fast laps with a few overtaking opportunities. This track had been reconstructed in 1981, as the old track used to be bigger with less safety measures and in fact it was boycotted by the drivers in 1970. The weather will of course play a very important factor in the race, as grey clouds, winds and fog have been present throughout the weekend. In fact, yesterday’s practice sessions had to be cancelled due to the huge amount of fogginess which took over the track and it was not safe for the drivers to take their car for a ride. Today, better conditions were present, and not only they managed to get at least one practice session in before the race but there was also an exciting qualifying. Track limits are being monitored this weekend, so the drivers cannot get off track with all four tyres in turn 4.
How will the drivers be lined up on the grid tomorrow?
- Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
- Alex Albon (Red Bull)
- Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)
- Esteban Ocon (Renault)
- Lando Norris (Mclaren)
- Sergio Perez (Racing Point)
- Carlos Sainz (McLaren)
- Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
- Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri)
- Daniil Kvyat (Alpha Tauri)
- Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
- Kevin Magnussen (Hass)
- Romain Grosjean (Hass)
- George Russell (Williams)
- Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
- Kimi Räikkönen (Alfa Romeo)
- Nico Hülkenberg (Racing Point)
What went on during Qualifying?
Let's begin with Nico Hülkenberg giving a start to the qualifying session during this Saturday afternoon. He was out first on track to get at least a lap in to get used to the car. One should note, that due to the short notice, the car was set for Stroll's style of driving and Hülkenberg found it quite difficult to adapt to the brake system. He did not manage to have a few laps in during FP3, so the German could not do much. In his last lap, he tried to obtain a better result for Racing Point, but he had a lock up which gave him a setback and could not manage to get out of the last position.
Qualifying saw a great fight for the top 3 positions of the grid today between Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, as all three drivers have been setting lap records throughout the session. Verstappen dominated the Q1, setting a time of 1.26.319 but Hamilton proved to be faster in Q2 as he recorded a time of 1.25.390. During Q3, Verstappen had a lack of grip, which he had also complained about during FP3 this morning. This made him slower than both Mercedes and could only manage to finish in P3. Verstappen is determined to race both Mercedes to first place admitting that it will be much more interesting tomorrow as it is said to be colder and of course the tyres will perform differently. If Verstappen wins, he will grant Honda their first win at this track. Honda had made their debut in F1 back in 1964 at this track but never managed to get a pole position or a win yet.
Bottas and Hamilton are set to portray some exciting racing tomorrow, especially since the gap between them was only of 2/10 in Q3. Hamilton was set to get P1 as he set a time record of 1.25.525 but he could not get quicker than his teammate who had recorded a record lap of 1.25.269. Bottas is sure that he can win tomorrow, emphasizing on the fact of how the preparation of the tyres have helped to perform well in Q3 and this will also help him tomorrow to keep his place at P1. Hamilton has a great mind set for tomorrow but admits that some challenges might be at present, especially due to the weather conditions. He explained how several factors such as raining or having a safety car can be an obstacle to get past Bottas, especially in colder temperatures.
Despite having Sebastian Vettel finish in P11, Charles Leclerc is ready to be yet again Ferrari's hero after giving a promising performance throughout qualifying and managing P4. Ferrari have been going through a rough patch throughout this season, but showed great improvements today having record P3 for Leclerc and P5 for Vettel during FP3. The car has been recording faster laps in this track and Ferrari hope that they can keep the rhythm going on tomorrow. Ferrari haven't managed to finish above P5 in any race since the Emirates Grand Prix in Great Britian, in which Leclerc finished 4th.
Lando Norris started out very well in qualifying as he managed P4 in Q1, but as the session progressed Mclaren became slower. Despite this, both drivers have given their all to grant the team two positions in the top ten of the grid for tomorrow. Norris was 2/10 faster than his teammate, Carlos Sainz who struggled with pace. Main factor for this were the tyres that did not give the greatest performance in the weather conditions of today due to the cold temperatures of the track. In Q3, Sainz went out with used tyres to gain a higher temperature on them and try to obtain a better result for the team but he only managed a P10. Sainz hopes for a better race tomorrow as he did not finish in the last two races in Russia and Mugello.
One can say that it was a positive afternoon for Alfa Romeo driver, Antonio Giovinazzi who finally managed to get into Q2 for the first time this season. The last time that he qualified was in Brazil last year, in which he started in P12. Now starting in P14, the weather conditions for tomorrow which will produce a brilliant race might come in his favor and help him gain some points. The last race that Alfa Romeo scored points in was last year in Brazil as both Kimi Räikkönen and Giovinazzi managed to finish in fourth and fifth place respectively.
Alpha Tauri had a disappointing afternoon compared to other weekends, as both drivers finished in Q2. Kvyat went out on his first lap during Q2 in a used tyre for better temperature but the conditions still did not help the team. Gasly started out well in Q1 as he finished 7th despite when going out into the pit lane he had a piece of black cover attached to the tyre. So far, it has not been reported that the FIA will look into this as it could have been examined for safety measures. In Russia, Kvyat was close to obtaining a home podium but since he had to pit stop, he only managed to finish in P8 while Gasly has been having a great season with Alpha Tauri, having also recorded his first win at Monza.
Hass had a bit of difficult afternoon. Both drivers had their times invalidated during Q1 as both drivers got off the track in turn 4. In fact, Grosjean had managed to reach P5 in Q1 at some point, but had his time deleted. Not much more could be done and he only managed to reach P16. His teammate, Kevin Magnussen was 3/10 faster but despite this, he only managed to gain just a place above his teammate in the grid tomorrow. With both drivers getting of track in turn 4,Haas needs to be careful as this can result in penalties if it happens in tomorrow's race.