Italian GP: Kimi Raikkonen mystified by car handling change
Kimi Raikkonen was left mystified by how difficult his Ferrari Formula 1 car became to drive during Italian Grand Prix qualifying.
The Finn failed to reach Q3 and was only 12th quickest, which will become 11th on the grid due to Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat’s penalty.
That was despite an encouraging run through Friday practice.
"We changed the car a little bit, but it’s hard to believe that those small changes made it as difficult as it was," said Raikkonen.
"We had a good weekend on this side and we had no issues. Things were running smoothly, as they should always, and then we had difficulties to get grip in qualifying.
"For some reason I kept locking the fronts a bit and couldn’t find how I could make one sector good but not all of them in a row. It just got difficult for some reason.
"It was a bit of a surprise for me, an unpleasant surprise.
"We have to try to look into the details a bit and hopefully find an explanation."
Raikkonen is still optimistic that he will be able to make progress in race trim.
"Obviously today our qualifying was not very good for me, but overall the weekend has maybe been a bit better than expected," he said.
"We knew that qualifying would be a little bit difficult compared to some of the Mercedes people. They usually make a bigger step for that, and then it comes back a little bit for the race.
"We had a good long run yesterday, so I 100 per cent believe that we can do a much better race.
"Do we have enough speed to overtake people? We will know tomorrow. But I believe that we should be stronger than today."
Italian GP: Lewis Hamilton takes commanding Monza pole for Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton claimed his first Formula 1 pole position since May’s Spanish Grand Prix by setting the pace in qualifying in Italy.
The Mercedes driver outpaced team-mate and world championship rival Nico Rosberg in all three segments of qualifying at Monza.
After establishing himself at the top of the timesheets in the Q3 top 10 shootout on his first run, over four tenths faster than Rosberg, Hamilton had already done enough to be sure of pole.
Rosberg started his second Q3 run before Hamilton, improving his laptime by just under two tenths, which was not enough to knock his team-mate off top spot.
This meant that Hamilton did not need to improve on his final attempt, with the relative position of Rosberg on the track meaning that he knew he had secured pole while on a lap that fell short of his earlier mark of 1m24.109s.
Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa locked out the second row for Williams, both drivers unable to improve on their second runs.
But behind them was the big winner of the final seconds of qualifying, Kevin Magnussen, who leaped from eighth to fifth with his final attempt.
Jenson Button, in the second McLaren, was sixth after failing to improve on his final run, just ahead of Fernando Alonso.
The Ferrari driver had made a slight improvement on his final attempt to relegate Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel to eighth.
Daniel Ricciardo and Force India driver Sergio Perez completed the top 10.
Daniil Kvyat was the quickest of those eliminated in Q2 despite a valiant attempt to snatch a top 10 place on the last lap.
The Russian, who will be given a 10-place grid penalty for using his sixth engine of the season, bumped Kimi Raikkonen out of the top in the dying seconds, only for Magnussen to jump from 13th from 10th.
Raikkonen ended up 12th ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne, with Nico Hulkenberg unable to match Force India team-mate Perez and down in 14th place.
Adrian Sutil prevailed in the intra-Sauber battle with Esteban Gutierrez by improving on his final run having looked to be fractionally slower than the Mexican earlier in qualifying.
There were no surprises in Q1, with the three slowest teams in the field populating the dropzone.
Pastor Maldonado was the fastest of those in 17th, just ahead of Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean.
Grosjean was only able to complete five laps thanks to the team having to fix a fluid leak detected in the build-up to the session, ending up a tenth slower than the Venezuelan after missing the first 13 minutes of the 18-minute session.
Kamui Kobayashi, reinstated in the lead Caterham after sitting out the Belgian GP, was a superb 19th ahead of Jules Bianchi thanks to a combination of an excellent lap and a tow from team-mate Marcus Ericsson.
Ericsson himself ended up 22nd, three tenths behind the second Marussia of Max Chilton.
|8||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull/Renault||1m25.436s||1.327s|
|9||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m25.709s||1.600s|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m25.944s||1.835s|
|12||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m26.157s||-|
|13||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m26.279s||-|
|21||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m26.070s||-|
Qualifying format: 1st-10th – Q3, 11th-16th – Q2, 17th-22nd – Q1
Kvyat has 10-place grid penalty
Italian GP: Lewis Hamilton tops practice, problems for Nico Rosberg
Lewis Hamilton dominated third practice for the 2014 Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, while his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg completed just three laps after encountering a gearbox problem.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was 0.412 seconds adrift of Hamilton as he took second place, with Valtteri Bottas just over a tenth further back in third.
Conditions were warmer and sunnier on Saturday with the ambient temperature steady at 23C and the track temperature building slowly from 32C to 36C.
Jenson Button’s early flyer, a 1m26.845s set on the hard-compound Pirelli tyres during his first six-lap run, kept him on top of the timesheets until Bottas undercut him by 0.152s.
Alonso and Massa also managed to edge the lead McLaren on pace during similar-length runs, with Alonso matching the 1m26.693 set by Bottas.
Mercedes did not offer a challenge at this point; Hamilton’s fastest over a 10-lap first run was 1m27.996s.
A gearbox glitch had caused Rosberg to abort his first eight-lap run early, and a recurrence of the problem when he next went out meant that he only completed three laps before abandoning the session.
Button and Hamilton improved on their second runs, still on the hard tyres, but it was Hamilton who blitzed every sector to return Mercedes to its customary first place with a 1m25.742s.
It was not a flawless run, though; after going quickest he over-ran the first chicane and radioed the pits to inform them that “The brakes don’t feel like they’re working too well and the DRS isn’t working”.
Alonso bolted on a set of mediums for his second run and went fastest in the first sector but could not beat Hamilton over the whole lap.
Neither could Hamilton eclipse his own hard-tyre time with his first flyer on mediums during his final stint, as he continued to complain about poor braking performance. Ultimately he improved to 1m25.519s.
Other frontrunners did improve their times on the medium compound by a decent margin in the final minutes, including both the Williams cars – Bottas and Massa jumped to third and fourth, displacing Button to fifth – and the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo.
The Red Bulls were split by the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, who ran strongly early on completed just 15 laps overall, and Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso.
Kvyat’s pace augurs well for a good qualifying performance, which the team needs in order for him to avoid carrying forward a portion of his gearbox penalty to the Singapore Grand Prix.
Nico Hulkenberg enjoyed better form in three practice and was sixth fastest for much of the session, closing it out 10th fastest, but his Force India team-mate Sergio Perez lost drive as he accelerated out of the first chicane and came to a halt at the Curva Grande.
Kevin Magnussen struggled with the brakes on his McLaren throughout and finished outside the top 10, over a second off the frontrunning pace.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m25.519s 23 2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m25.931s +0.412s 13 3. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1m26.090s +0.571s 19 4. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m26.114s +0.595s 18 5. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m26.242s +0.723s 21 6. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m26.290s +0.771s 17 7. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m26.327s +0.808s 15 8. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1m26.437s +0.918s 21 9. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m26.482s +0.963s 16 10. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m26.608s +1.089s 17 11. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1m26.829s +1.310s 20 12. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m27.207s +1.688s 18 13. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m27.312s +1.793s 10 14. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1m27.479s +1.960s 22 15. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1m27.498s +1.979s 12 16. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1m28.025s +2.506s 19 17. Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1m28.137s +2.618s 20 18. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1m28.265s +2.746s 21 19. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m28.459s +2.940s 14 20. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1m28.579s +3.060s 19 21. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1m29.251s +3.732s 22 22. Nico Rosberg Mercedes no time 3
Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen finished the session in eighth place and a full second behind Alonso.
The Finn admitted his final flying lap had been far from perfect.
"The car was pretty OK, but the conditions were quite difficult," Raikkonen said.
"I did quite a few mistakes in the last lap, I had to compromise my out-lap to get clear of traffic, so it was not the best way to start the lap and then I did some mistakes."
Belgian GP: Nico Rosberg takes pole position at wet Spa
Nico Rosberg claimed his fourth consecutive Formula 1 pole position in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix.
Rain meant that the majority of qualifying was run using intermediate tyres and Rosberg’s first flying lap at the start of Q3, a 2m05.591s, proved to be good enough for pole position.
Although Rosberg did switch to a fresh set of intermediates and made a small improvement, he had already done enough to be sure of top spot. He ended up just over two tenths clear of world championship rival and Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton, who set a slow time on his first flier, which was compromised by sliding wide at the first corner, leading him to ease off, before improving on his second.
He then pitted for fresh intermediates and got down to a 2m05.819s on his final flier, but it was only enough for second.
Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel was third fastest, over two seconds slower than Rosberg, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso fourth.
The pair had held third and fourth after the first runs, but improvements later on served only to defend their positions with the Mercedes pairing out of reach.
Daniel Ricciardo, who had an off-track moment on his final attempt, was fifth fastest ahead of Valtteri Bottas in the best of the Williams cars.
Kevin Magnussen outqualified McLaren team-mate Jenson Button, the duo ending up seventh and 10th.
In between them were Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa, with the Finn the biggest loser after the first runs and being bumped from fifth down to eighth.
Scuderia Toro Rosso pairing Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Eric Vergne were the fastest of those eliminated in Q2.
Kvyat put in a lap that temporarily put him eighth in the closing stages of the session, but he was shuffled down the order by improvements by Magnussen, Button and Vettel, all of which were in the drop zone at times late on.
Sergio Perez was 13th ahead of Sauber driver Adrian Sutil, with Romain Grosjean 15th.
Although Jules Bianchi was slowest in the middle part of qualifying, the Marussia driver was one of the stars of the afternoon after reaching Q2 at Spa for the second consecutive year.
Pastor Maldonado appeared to have made it through to Q2 by improving his time on his final flying lap in a Q1 session that started off wet but improved throughout.
But the Lotus driver was bumped back down to 17th when Sutil also improved in the dying moments, with all the runners by then using intermediate rubber.
This also led to Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg being eliminated as he slipped down to 18th ahead of Marussia’s Max Chilton having been ahead of both Maldonado and Sutil as they started their final laps.
Hulkenberg admitted to making a mistake at the end of his final lap, which cost him a couple of tenths, also complaining of a lack of braking feel.
Esteban Gutierrez did not have the chance for a proper qualifying attempt as his Sauber stopped on his fifth lap while he was still on wet tyres.
This meant that the Mexican did not get to run in the best of the conditions, ending up ahead of only the two Caterhams.
Remarkably, Andre Lotterer outpaced Caterham team-mate Marcus Ericsson to avoid starting his debut grand prix last, with the gap between the two almost one second.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 2m05.591s 2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 2m05.819s +0.228s 3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 2m07.717s +2.126s 4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 2m07.786s +2.195s 5. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 2m07.911s +2.320s 6. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 2m08.049s +2.458s 7. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 2m08.679s +3.088s 8. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 2m08.780s +3.189s 9. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 2m09.178s +3.587s 10. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 2m09.776s +4.185s Q2 cut-off time: 2m09.272s Gap ** 11. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 2m09.377s +2.768s 12. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 2m09.805s +3.196s 13. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 2m10.084s +3.475s 14. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 2m10.238s +3.629s 15. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 2m11.087s +4.478s 16. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 2m12.470s +5.861s Q1 cut-off time: 2m11.081s Gap * 17. Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 2m11.261s +4.131s 18. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 2m11.267s +4.137s 19. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 2m12.566s +5.436s 20. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 2m13.414s +6.284s 21. Andre Lotterer Caterham-Renault 2m13.469s +6.339s 22. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 2m14.438s +7.308s 107% time: 2m16.029s
* Gap to quickest in Q1
** Gap to quickest in Q2
Belgian GP: Valtteri Bottas tops final practice for Williams
Valtteri Bottas went quickest for Williams in a frenzied final few minutes of third practice for Formula 1’s 2014 Belgian Grand Prix, outpacing Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo by 0.268 seconds.
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg was the best of the title contenders in third.
Many drivers only had the opportunity to run one or two flying laps on the soft Pirelli tyre at the end of the session, and were thwarted by traffic.
After overnight rain a dry line had already formed in some places, thanks to the preceding GP3 qualifying session, as the F1 cars took to the circuit for their installation laps.
With the track temperature still hovering around the 16C mark and the surface still mostly wet, there was little activity for the first 30 minutes as most teams – apart from the tail-enders – elected not to risk their machinery.
Thus Marussia annexed the top two positions for half the session as Jules Bianchi (2m01.823s), Max Chilton (2m05.120s) and Andre Lotterer (2m07.529s) each essayed a tentative lap before reporting back to the pits.
Esteban Gutierrez was the first driver out on slick tyres, half an hour into the session. He instantly took 1.581s out of Bianchi’s time, then improved again by over four seconds as his medium-compound Pirellis came up to temperature, and this provided the cue for others to join the fray.
The track evolved quickly over the final 20 minutes as increased activity broadened the dry line, and Ferrari fans will have been heartened by the sight of Kimi Raikkonen bolting on a set of soft tyres and briefly topping the timesheets with five minutes to go.
Bottas, Ricciardo and Rosberg then went faster using the same tyre choice, but Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso were unable to eclipse their team-mates and finished fifth and sixth fastest.
Sebastian Vettel finished the session outside the top 10 having done all his running on the medium compound.
He has reverted to an older engine after an ignition problem in one cylinder set in motion a failure of his nominated power unit on Friday.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps 1. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1m49.465s 12 2. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m49.733s +0.268s 9 3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m49.739s +0.274s 13 4. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m49.817s +0.352s 9 5. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m49.817s +0.352s 13 6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m49.890s +0.425s 9 7. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1m49.893s +0.428s 11 8. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m50.203s +0.738s 11 9. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m50.423s +0.958s 11 10. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1m50.535s +1.070s 10 11. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m50.592s +1.127s 12 12. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1m50.748s +1.283s 11 13. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m50.814s +1.349s 10 14. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m50.866s +1.401s 11 15. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1m50.962s +1.497s 12 16. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m51.509s +2.044s 9 17. Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1m51.610s +2.145s 10 18. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m51.898s +2.433s 15 19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1m52.457s +2.992s 14 20. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1m52.984s +3.519s 14 21. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1m54.294s +3.829s 11 22. Andre Lotterer Caterham-Renault 1m55.008s +5.543s 13
Hungarian GP: Kimi Raikkonen says Ferrari should not make Q1 errors
Kimi Raikkonen says that his Ferrari Formula 1 team should not be making the kind of strategic error that led to him being eliminated in Q1 at the Hungaroring.
The 2007 world champion missed the cut in the first segment of qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix when Ferrari decided to keep him in the pits in the closing stages, and his time was beaten by the Marussia of Ferrari protege Jules Bianchi.
Raikkonen admitted that he was unsure if it was the right decision to not run as he felt happier on the softer tyre compound, but the team believed it had made the right call.
“The plan was to do another run but we never did,” the Finn told reporters after the session.
“The team told me, ‘we are fine, we don’t need to go out’.
“I questioned it a few times but they said there was no need, and obviously we can see the end result.
“As a team in Formula 1, as Ferrari, we shouldn’t make these kind of things. We are not in our first year, any of us.
“It’s not good for me, not good for the team, but mistakes have been made.
“People make mistakes, but obviously there are things we need to change to make it better.”
Raikkonen and team-mate Fernando Alonso were knocked out in the first part of qualifying for the British Grand Prix, with the Spaniard saying afterwards the Scuderia needed to “speed up” its decisions.
When asked if he could have simply overruled the team and demanded to go out, Raikkonen said that he placed his faith in Ferrari to make the right calls.
“I’ve got trust in the team and I believe in the people,” he added. “I questioned it but I cannot go against advice.
“We are here as a team, we make decisions as a team and today the outcome was this.
“I don’t really see the point in shouting around. I’ve done mistakes in the past and will make more in the future.”
Hungarian GP: Rosberg on pole, fire puts Hamilton out in Q1
Nico Rosberg had a clear run to pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix after team-mate Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes caught fire early in qualifying.
Hamilton was the favourite for pole after topping all three free practice sessions, but he was eliminated just five minutes into Q1 when he stopped in the pit entry with the rear of his Mercedes ablaze thanks to a fuel leak.
But although this meant Rosberg’s main rival was not in contention, rain that struck at the start of Q3 made the world championship leader’s task difficult.
Rosberg was the first onto the track on slick tyres with conditions worsening, but with the first corner particularly wet he slid off into the runoff area on his first flier, ruining his lap.
But Kevin Magnussen, who was second on the road, also outbraked himself, hitting the tyre barrier on the outside of the corner and bringing out the red flag before anyone could set a time.
When qualifying resumed after an eight-minute delay, the rain had eased and while the track was slippery, everyone opted to continue on slicks.
With the track drying up, everyone went back out on slicks, with Rosberg going fastest on his second flying lap after a brief spell at the top of the times for Williams driver Valtteri Bottas.
But unlike Rosberg, who stayed out and used only one set of softs in Q3, Vettel pitted for new rubber and took top spot from the Mercedes driver on his final lap.
Moments later Rosberg improved, taking pole position by almost half-a-second.
Vettel held onto second ahead of Bottas, the latter also opting to pit for new tyres, with Daniel Ricciardo fourth fastest.
Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were fifth and sixth, both also having two runs in the restarted Q3 segment, with Jenson Button eighth ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne.
Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg was the slowest of those to set a time in Q3 in ninth, with Magnussen classified 10th having not set a time before his crash.
Daniil Kvyat was in contention for a top 10 slot, but he locked the rears at Turn 12 on his final lap in Q2 and spun, ending up 11th.
Sauber driver Adrian Sutil was 12th ahead of Sergio Perez, who suffered a hydraulic leak during Q2 and could only attempt one run.
Esteban Gutierrez took 14th ahead of Romain Grosjean, with Jules Bianchi ending up 16th after an excellent performance to make the second stage of qualifying.
Kimi Raikkonen was a shock casuality during Q1, ending the session 17th fastest.
With Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado, whose Lotus had stopped early in Q1, not running, most teams opted not to send their cars out for a second run on the basis that they only needed to finish ahead of the Caterhams and the Marussias to make the next phase.
But Raikkonen was the slowest of those who did not attempt a run on soft rubber and when Bianchi put in his final lap, the Finn was relegated to the dropzone while sat in the garage.
Caterham driver Kamui Kobayashi was 18th ahead of Max Chilton, who suffered a fuel pressure problem on his final run, with Marcus Ericsson slowest of those who set a lap.
Hamilton was classified 21st ahead of Maldonado thanks to starting a flying lap.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m22.715s 2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m23.201s +0.486s 3. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1m23.354s +0.639s 4. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m23.391s +0.676s 5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m23.909s +1.194s 6. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m24.223s +1.508s 7. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.294s +1.579s 8. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1m24.720s +2.005s 9. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m24.775s +2.060s 10. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes Q3 cut-off time: 1m24.647s 11. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1m24.706s +1.396s** 12. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.136s +1.826s 13. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m25.211s +1.901s 14. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.260s +1.950s 15. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m25.337s +2.027s 16. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1m27.419s +4.109s Q2 cut-off time: 1m26.728s 17. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m26.792s +1.851s*** 18. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1m27.139s +2.198s 19. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1m27.819s +2.878s 20. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1m28.643s +3.702s 21. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 22. Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 107 per cent time: 1m30.886s ** Gap to fastest in Q2 *** Gap to fastest in Q1
Hungarian GP: Lewis Hamilton edges Nico Rosberg in final practice
Lewis Hamilton cemented his status as favourite for pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix by topping Saturday morning free practice.
The Mercedes driver had a quiet start to the session, not going for laptimes on his early laps on the slower medium-compound Pirellis.
Hamilton was down in 18th place when he went out for his third run, still on the mediums, jumping to eighth fastest on his 14th lap on the rubber and then knocking Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari off top spot by almost three-tenths of a second on his 16th lap.
But with a big step in performance between the medium and the soft-compound Pirellis, the fastest laps were always going to be set on that rubber.
Hamilton had slipped to seventh by the time he started his qualifying simulation, but he set the fastest times in the first two sectors of the lap and then a personal best in the final one to knock team-mate Nico Rosberg off top spot with four minutes remaining.
Rosberg subsequently improved on his second attempt after a cool-down lap, closing the deficit to Hamilton from 0.453s to 0.229s. He then improved again, cutting the deficit to just 47-thousandths.
Sebastian Vettel then went third fastest on his qualifying simulation, four-tenths off the pace, with Valtteri Bottas just shaded to fourth fastest by the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo.
Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, who had been the first of the frontrunners to go out on the soft Pirellis with 10 minutes remaining were briefly first and second after lapping just 49-thousandths apart.
But they eventually slid to sixth and seventh in the final reckoning, just ahead of Kevin Magnussen’s McLaren.
Scuderia Toro Rosso proved it would be a threat for Q3 this afternoon, with Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat ninth and 10th ahead of Felipe Massa and Jenson Button.
Force India drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez were down in 17th and 18th place behind the Saubers and the two Lotus entries, both unable to extract a competitive laptime from the soft rubber.
Kamui Kobayashi continued Caterham’s improved weekend by outpacing the Marussias of Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi, with team-mate Marcus Ericsson 21st after a brief spin at Turn 13.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m24.048s 21 2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m24.095s +0.047s 24 3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m24.455s +0.407s 16 4. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m24.678s +0.630s 15 5. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1m24.685s +0.637s 21 6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m24.769s +0.721s 11 7. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m24.818s +0.770s 19 8. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.867s +0.819s 21 9. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1m25.162s +1.114s 17 10. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1m25.170s +1.122s 19 11. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m25.231s +1.183s 18 12. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m25.468s +1.420s 14 13. Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1m25.829s +1.781s 22 14. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m25.859s +1.811s 19 15. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.934s +1.886s 21 16. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m26.023s +1.975s 23 17. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m26.035s +1.987s 19 18. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m26.142s +2.094s 17 19. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1m27.560s +3.512s 23 20. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1m28.083s +4.035s 17 21. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1m28.605s +4.557s 22 22. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1m28.821s +4.773s 14
“Exploiting any opportunity”
Kimi Raikkonen: “This weekend, a few technical problems meant I spent more time in the garage than usual, but already, as from yesterday afternoon, my feeling with the car had improved. Today, in Q1 things went reasonably well, but then in Q2, when I fitted the second set of new Supersofts, my car was sliding all over the place and I lost the back end in turn 2. After that, it was impossible to put a good lap together. I’m not happy with my grid position, but I hope things can go better in tomorrow’s race. It’s likely the weather could be different tomorrow and the temperatures will be lower. We will try and make the most of any opportunity because we want to have a nice race and bring home a good number of points.”
Raikkonen frustrated by Q2 mistakes
Kimi Raikkonen has admitted that several mistakes during his final Q2 lap cost him a chance of progressing to the final qualifying segment.
The Finn had felt more comfortable at the wheel of the F14 T at the Hockenheimring but failed to put a clean lap together in the second session.
He was eventually knocked down to 12th place and will start tomorrow’s German Grand Prix from the sixth row of the grid.
“On the second run, for some reason, I lost the rear in corner two, lost a lot of time and it was difficult to gain back the time after that,” admitted the 2007 champion.
“I also lost time in the last sector, so I couldn’t put the lap together. It had felt pretty okay up to that point. We had a problem yesterday morning and a problem this morning, which doesn’t help, but the car was feeling pretty good yesterday morning and this morning so it was an unfortunate thing, but it happens.”
When asked why he has struggled more in qualifying, he replied: “It’s just different things [affecting qualifying]. In the races, it hasn’t been that good either, so it’s just things going wrong or I’m making mistakes and haven’t been able to put a proper lap together for a long time.
“But it’s been feeling much better here, more like it should. It’s not exactly as I want as it feels good for one run then, on the next, you lose the rear for no reason, but I’m not trying anything stupid.
“It’s so on edge that it’s difficult to predict what it’s going to do and one slip, like I had on corner two, and you lose all the speed on the straight. When it happens in moments like that, it makes a big difference.”