10 October 2020 18:39
But unlike the last five Grands Prix, it was Russian GP winner Valtteri Bottas rather than Lewis Hamilton who took P1 this time, ending up 0.256s ahead of his team mate – while Red Bull's Max Verstappen secured his near-traditional P3 slot on the grid, but just 0.037s off Hamilton. One of the biggest stories coming into qualifying was the news that a sick Lance Stroll would be replaced for the rest of the weekend by Nico Hulkenberg at Racing Point, the German having been in town to do some broadcast work before getting the call up to drive ahead of the session. READ MORE: Super sub Hulkenberg to replace unwell Stroll for remainder of Eifel GP weekend At the sharp end, meanwhile, the three qualifying sectors saw three different leaders, Verstappen in Q1 and Hamilton in Q2, before a storming final effort from Bottas in Q3 gave him his third pole of the season – and the 14th of his career – the Finn setting three purple sectors to nail P1. Formula 1 Aramco Grosser Preis Der Eifel 2020 Germany 2020 Qualifying results POSITION TIME 1 Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes 1:25.269 2 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes 1:25.525 3 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing 1:25.562 4 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari 1:26.035 5 Alexander Albon ALB Red Bull Racing 1:26.047 Leclerc was ahead of the second Red Bull of Alex Albon in P5, while Daniel Ricciardo took sixth for Renault, having looked in good form all through Saturday – the first day to see any running at the Nurburgring, after Friday's slew of session cancellations. Q1 – Verstappen goes quickest as Hulkenberg drops out early Unsurprisingly, Nico Hulkenberg made a dash for the track when the pit exit light showed green at the start of Q1, Racing Point's super sub keen to get back up to speed with the RP20 vacated by an ill Lance Stroll – Hulkenberg having been confirmed to drive in the hour leading up to qualifying.
But some understandably scruffy laps from the German as he got up to speed meant that he qualified last of all, 1.702s off Max Verstappen's leading time in the segment. READ MORE: 'It was even crazier than last time!' – Hulkenberg describes mad dash to Nurburgring for latest sub appearance Also out went Romain Grosjean in P16 – the Frenchman having had a lap deleted for track limit infringements – followed by the Williams pairing of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi, the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen and Hulkenberg. Verstappen headed the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas by 0.254s, the Finn a further half a tenth up from Lewis Hamilton, as McLaren's Lando Norris and Renault's Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top five. Q2 – Vettel drops out in front of his home crowd as Hamilton tops the session Both Mercedes, both Ferraris and Renault's Ricciardo opted to head out for their first Q2 laps on mediums – perhaps more to get some understanding of the yellow-walled rubber than with serious thoughts of making it through the segment on the medium tyre in the frigid conditions, with track temperatures at just 17 degrees C. Hamilton stopped the clocks quickest of all with a 1m 25.390s, but Verstappen was just 0.077s further back – the fight between those two looking tasty ahead of Q3 – while Bottas was half a second off Hamilton in third, having failed to put a clean lap together.
Team principal Otmar Szafnauer said Stroll has "flu-like symptoms", an upset stomach and was "just not well in himself and couldn't exercise". He said the team were not testing Stroll again before the maximum time between tests because he had had some of the symptoms since returning from the Russian Grand Prix two weeks ago and had been tested several times since, all of the tests returning negative results. Stroll has been replaced by German Nico Hulkenberg, who has driven for the team previously this year when their other driver Sergio Perez contracted coronavirus in the summer and was forced to miss the British and 70th Anniversary grands prix at Silverstone.