Mixed feelings after a tough Saturday for the team at the Hockenheimring
- This morning's FP3 session was a near total washout, with most drivers only venturing out in the final moments of the session and neither Mercedes driver completing a flying lap
- Valtteri put in a great performance to set the second fastest time in Qualifying and will start from P2 on the grid for tomorrow's German Grand Prix
- Lewis had to stop his car in Q1 owing to a loss of hydraulic pressure from failed power steering. Although he had set a time good enough to see him through to Q2, he was able to take no further part in proceedings
- Valtteri will start tomorrow's Grand Prix on the UltraSoft tyre
What Did We Learn?
"A day of mixed fortunes," concluded Trackside Engineering Director, Andrew Shovlin. "Well done to Valtteri for putting the car on the front row but it was very tough session for Lewis. Knowing that you have a car that can be on the front row makes it even more frustrating to be side-lined in the early parts of qualifying. We are still looking into the failure to work out the precise root causes of what happened, but it goes without saying that our priority is to try and understand this issue ahead of the race. Lewis has already switched his focus to recovering position in the race tomorrow. It's not easy to overtake with these cars but the race should offer several strategic opportunities that will hopefully open things up for us and get us back into the good points. Valtteri's race is a bit more straightforward. The pace and the tyre behaviour in the cooler conditions are a bit of an unknown for all teams, but there are good opportunities for him to win and that's his entire focus right now."
What We’re Saying
Valtteri: "It felt like a good lap, especially in the last sector, but I don't think pole was up for grabs for us today - Ferrari was just a bit quicker. It is going to be very close between us and them tomorrow; the race start and the strategy will decide the outcome. We've been working on our starts and made good progress, but the Ferraris have been producing really good starts this season, so we'll find out if we have closed the gap. It was a shame that Lewis missed most of Qualifying. He will try and get as far up as possible, we've seen in the previous races that he's capable of that. From my side, I will focus on getting that one position back - and the race start could be the best option. For us at Mercedes, Hockenheim is a home race, so I will give it my best tomorrow."
Lewis: "It's been a tough day, but these things happen in sport. This is a part of racing. We had a hydraulic failure at Turn 1, then lost the power steering and I went wide. When you're fighting for a championship that's as close as this you can't afford days like this. You put so much preparation in, everyone works so hard, and then to go out early in Qualifying is a bit of a shock. Your heart sinks and sometimes you just can't believe things unfold the way they do, but all you can do is suck it up. In that moment I was thinking just push the car back to the garage, maybe we can fix it - it's that I will not to give up. All I can do is put aside that negative energy and see tomorrow as another opportunity to rise. Hockenheim is a trickier for overtaking on than Silverstone, but I'll do everything I can."
Toto: "That was a tough qualifying session for us today - we were fighting with one hand tied behind our backs after losing Lewis' car so early in the session. From what we can see in the data, we had an hydraulic failure as Lewis used the Turn 1 kerbs in a normal way - then, with failed power steering from the loss of hydraulic pressure, he ran wider and that's when we saw the car bouncing dramatically on the TV. Clearly, this is a vulnerability we have under the high loads you see when running the kerbs, and something we must get on top of. It will be a tall order for Lewis to come through the field tomorrow but we saw already in Silverstone how well he can fight back. For Valtteri, it was a mega final lap that put him on provisional pole - especially in the third sector, where he was fastest of everybody by a big margin. But Sebastian and Ferrari were just that bit stronger than us today. They were particularly strong in the middle sector and it's clear they have found a lot of power in the last races - and that we need to catch up. It will be a challenging race tomorrow but we saw very close matched long runs from everybody in practice yesterday. The conditions will be cooler, so it will be interesting to see if and how that changes the competitive order."