Finland's Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) set the fastest qualifying time on Saturday and will start from pole position Sunday at the Nürburgring for the Eifel Grand Prix, the 11th round of the Formula 1 season.
Lewis Hamilton will start right next to his teammate and will once again have the opportunity to equal Michael Schumacher's F1 winning record (91), as he did at the Russian GP two weeks ago.
The Nürburgring circuit had not hosted F1 single-seaters since 2013. But it was one of the favorite circuits of Schumacher, born less than 100 km away: the "Red Baron" won five times. .
Max Verstappen (Red Bull) took 3rd place in qualifying, behind the two Mercedes, as has often been the case in recent months. "I thought I was doing a little better, to be honest," responded the Dutchman, a little disappointed. "But we are getting closer" he said again, just to give himself a little courage for Sunday.
- Leclerc well placed -
Charles Leclerc managed to place his Ferrari in 4th place on the grid at the end of Q3, while his teammate Sebastian Vettel, leaving for the Aston Martin team (currently Racing Point), was eliminated in Q2 and will have to settle for 11th place at the start. He will be at the heart of the peloton, with an increased risk of collision during the first laps.
The Renault achieved a good group shot with Daniel Ricciardo 6th and Esteban Ocon 7th. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri), victorious at Monza, will start 12th while Romain Grosjean (Haas) will be 16th on the grid.
"I am angry because I could do better" explained the Franco-Swiss of the American team. "But so much the better to have only had one practice session, it's good for us!" Grosjean was satisfied, alluding to the fact that the small teams could reserve surprises for the "big ones" on Sunday, given the general lack of preparation.
- Unprecedented circumstances -
The circumstances are unprecedented for this first edition of the Eifel Grand Prix, this very wooded massif where the Nürburgring is located. Qualifying took place as the drivers and their teams only had one free practice session on Saturday morning.
The two sessions scheduled for Friday were canceled due to bad weather conditions which would have prevented the medical helicopter from taking off in the event of a serious accident.
It is also a chance for Nico Hülkenberg called to the rescue by Racing Point. The ex-Renault driver replaced in the morning, at a moment's notice, Lance Stroll suffering. He was already there, as a consultant for German television.
"They called me around 11am, told me to do a Covid test, and here I am. I know the circuit well, I have quite a few stories here in the lower categories" said "Hulk" , smiling, at the microphone of Canal +.
Despite a very honorable lap 1.5 seconds from pole, without having taken part in free practice on Saturday morning, the German could not do better than the 20th place in qualifying in this Racing Point which he had already driven. at Silverstone.
He then replaced Sergio Pérez at the British Grand Prix and the 70th Anniversary of F1 in early August, after the Mexican tested positive for Covid-19.
On Sunday, up to 20,000 spectators are expected to attend the 1st Eifel Grand Prix and perhaps see Hamilton equal the German F1 hero's record.