After breezing through the first two sessions (the Mercedes drivers were the only drivers to qualify from Q1 having used only soft tyres), Rosberg set off on his first run in Q3 only to have to abandon the run at the end of his first lap when his Mercedes suffered an electronics issue.
"It just suddenly lost the throttle. It just cut completely the engine, just at the end of the lap. That was disappointing but I’m sure we’ll fix it for tomorrow. It’s never happened before, so I’m sure it will be OK."
Rosberg dived towards the pit lane for repairs and out on track team-mate Lewis Hamilton set the early Q3 pace with a lap of 1:14.486 with Ricciardo slotting in P2 with a time of 1:14.724 to sit 0.240 off Hamilton. As the rest of the field returned to the pit lane to plot their final runs, Rosberg headed out again and with an almost clear track he posted a superb lap of 1:14.363 to take provisional pole. And as Hamilton made a small mistake in Sector 2 and went slower in Sector 3, Rosberg took his 27th career pole position and his fifth of the season.
Ricciardo took P3 behind Hamilton and admitted that though he had got close, he did not feel he had to pace to compete for pole. Ricciardo will be joined on row two of the grid by team-mate Max Verstappen, while row three will be filled by Ferrari’s fifth-placed Kimi Raikkonen and P6 man Sebastian Vettel.
Behind them, Nico Hulkenberg will line-up in seventh place alongside Williams Valtteri Bottas, with Sergio Perez ninth in the second Force India ahead of the second Williams of Felipe Massa. The earlier sessions had progressed largely as expected. Q1’s only somewhat unforeseen elimination was that of Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat.
The Russian driver qualified in P19 behind 17th-placed Renault driver Kevin Magnussen and Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein and ahead of Manor’s Rio Haryanto and the Saubers of Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson. P19 was all the more frustrating for Kvyat after he was informed that team-mate Carlos Sainz had made it through to Q2 in P12.
That was as far as Saing got however and in Q2 the Spaniard took P13, though he was also placed under investigation for allegedly impeding Massa during the session. Haas’ Esteban Gutierrez almost made it through to Q3 for the first time since the Korean Grand Prix of 2013.
The Mexican was in P9 after his final run of Q2 but Massa eventually beat him to the final Q3 slot by 0.184s. Behind Gutierrez, Jenson Button was 12th for McLaren ahead of Sainz, Fernando Alonso in the second McLaren, Romain Grosjean in the second Haas and Renault’s Jolyon Palmer. Grosjean is set to take a five-place penalty for tomorrow’s race after he had to switch gearboxes following problems in FP3.
2016 German Grand Prix – Qualifying
P. DRIVER TEAM TIME GAP 1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG 1:14.363 2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG 1:14.470 + 0.107 3. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:14.726 + 0.363 4. Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:14.834 + 0.471 5. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:15.142 + 0.779 6. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:15.315 + 0.952 7. Nico Hulkenberg* Force India 1:15.510 + 1.147 8. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:15.530 + 1.167 9. Sergio Perez Force India 1:15.537 + 1.174 10. Felipe Massa Williams 1:15.615 + 1.252 * grid penalty 1 place Q2 Fastest time: Lewis Hamilton 1:14.748 11. Esteban Gutierrez Haas 1:15.883 + 1.135 12. Jenson Button McLaren 1:15.909 + 1.161 13. Carlos Sainz JR. Toro Rosso** 1:15.989 + 1.241 14. Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:16.041 + 1.293 15. Romain Grosjean* Haas 1:16.086 + 1.338 16. Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:16.665 + 1.917 * grid penalty 5 places ** grid penalty 3 places Q1 Fastest time: Lewis Hamilton 1:15.243 17. Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:16.953 + 1.473 18. Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1:17.123 + 1.474 19. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:17.200 + 1.633 20. Rio Haryanto Manor 1:17.238 + 1.734 21. Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:17.355 + 1.880 22. Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:17.442 + 1.995 107% time: 1:20.510