Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg took pole position for his home grand prix as title rival Lewis Hamilton crashed out early in the session. The Briton finished the session in 16th position.
Rosberg will be joined on the front row by Williams’ Valtteri Bottas with team-mate Felipe Massa in third place ahead of Kevin Magnussen, who continued McLaren’s recent good form.
“I had a difficult start because I didn’t really feel comfortable with the balance in the braking zones but that gradually improved through the sessions,” said Rosberg. “The quickest lap at the end was really a good one. So I’m really happy to start from the top position here at our home Grand Prix.
“But I can’t be too pleased about today because of the accident Lewis suffered, I’m glad he is fine. I would have preferred to have the normal fight for the pole with him.”
Hamilton’s accident came 10 minutes into Q1 when the Mercedes driver was in P2 on the timesheet behind Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and chasing an improvement. Hamilton braked for the Sachskurve but his front-left wheel locked up and he was immediately pitched into the barriers at high speed. Hamilton was quickly on the radio informing his team that he was unhurt but that “something made the brakes fail.”
With his W05 having sustained damage in the impact, it was the end of the Briton’s session. His best Q1 time of 1:18.683 was in the end good enough for 16th place in qualifying. If the damage to his car is not sufficient to require a major rebuild, Hamilton will start from 15th place once Esteban Gutierrez, who qualified in 14th place, takes the three-place grid penalty he incurred at Silverstone.
The session resumed nine minutes later and Rosberg was one of the first out, as the German had not yet set a time. He moved into P1 with his first flying lap, outpacing Bottas by six tenths of a second.
The time, set on supersofts, was good enough to see him through to Q2 in P1, followed by Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel, and in fourth place Vallteri Bottas, whose time of 1:18.215 was set on soft tyres.
Eliminated, in order, after Q1 were Marcus Ericsson, who failed to set a time due to a hydraulic problem discovered in advance of the session, Marussia’ Max Chilton, Kamui Kobayashi in the second Caterham, Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado, Jules Bianchi in the second Marussia and Sauber’s Adrian Sutil.
Rosberg was again quickest in Q2, his time of 1:17.109 deemed good enough to see him through to the top-10 shootout. Bottas was close again, however, the Finn taking second in the segment with a time just over two tenths shy of the championship leader’s. Bottas’ Williams team-mate Felipe Massa was fourth ahead of Sebastian Vettel, while Kevin Magnussen, continued to find his way to the middle of the top 10, as he has done all weekend.
It was a less happy tale for team-mate Jenson Button who failed to make it through to Q3. His time of 1:18.193 was just under four tenths down on his team-mate and only good enough for P11.
Also suffering by comparison with a team-mate was Jean-Eric Vergne. The Frenchman could only manage P13 behind Kimi Raikkonen, while Toro Rosso team-mate Daniil Kvyat took ninth place in the segmen. It’s the third race weekend in a row on which the young Russian has beaten Vergne in qualifying, though in the Frenchman’s defence the gap between the two was just 0.182.
Also ruled out after Q2 were Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez in 14th place and Lotus’ Romain Grojean who took 15th ahead of the non-running Hamilton.
In the final segment Rosberg made his intentions clear with his first run. The German set a ferociously quick time of 1:16.540 and with Bottas’s first run yielding a time half a second shy of the Mercedes man’s, any ambition making a challenge for pole evaporated.
Bottas put in a valiant effort with his final run and shaved over two tenths off his previous time but it was only good enough to cement his front row position behind Rosberg, as Massa failed to make a significant move.
Behind them Magnussen rose to an excellent fourth place for McLaren ahead of Ricciardo who, as ever, left his best for last, eclipsing team-mate Vettel by three tenths of a second.
With Vettel sixth, seventh place went to Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. Kvyat improved on provisional P9 to claim eighth place in the session ahead of the Force Indias of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez.
2014 German Grand Prix – Qualifying Result
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:17.631 1:17.109 1:16.540 17
2 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:18.215 1:17.353 1:16.759 15
3 Felipe Massa Williams 1:18.381 1:17.370 1:17.078 21
4 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:18.260 1:17.788 1:17.214 17
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:18.117 1:17.855 1:17.273 19
6 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1:18.194 1:17.646 1:17.577 16
7 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:18.389 1:17.866 1:17.649 19
8 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:18.530 1:18.103 1:17.965 22
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:18.927 1:18.017 1:18.014 21
10 Sergio Perez Force India 1:18.916 1:18.161 1:18.035 21
11 Jenson Button McLaren 1:18.425 1:18.193 15
12 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:18.534 1:18.273 13
13 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:18.496 1:18.285 14
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:18.739 1:18.787 14
15 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:18.894 1:18.983 14
16 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:18.683 5
17 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:19.142 8
18 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:19.676 8
19 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:20.195 7
20 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:20.408 7
21 Max Chilton Marussia 1:20.489 9
22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham