Sebastian Vettel celebrates home pole in Hockenheim, woe for Lewis Hamilton

Ferrari's German driver Sebastian Vettel celebrates after winning the qualifying session on the eve of the German Formula One Grand Prix. (AFP)
Updated 21 July 2018

Sebastian Vettel celebrates home pole in Hockenheim, woe for Lewis Hamilton

  • German outpaces Bottas by two-tenths of a second
  • Hamilton set to start from 14th on the grid

HOCKENHEIM: Sebastian Vettel surged to pole for his home German Grand Prix on Saturday as Lewis Hamilton suffered a setback when his Mercedes broke down to leave him at the back of the grid.
Vettel topped qualifying with a devastating final lap in his Ferrari to pip Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes.
A distraught Hamilton limped out in the first qualifying session when his car broke down with a hydraulics failure.
Vettel rubbed salt in the British defending world champion’s wounds by outpacing Bottas by two-tenths of a second.
In front of a huge crowd of flag-waving Germans at the track near his Heppenheim birthplace, Vettel delivered a lap record in one minute and 11.212 seconds to top the Finn’s 1:11.416.
“Thanks to those fans,” said Vettel. “It was amazing to see so many Ferrari and Germany flags.
“It just kept getting better and I knew for the last lap I had a little bit more — I am full of adrenaline, but feel so happy.”
It is his second pole for a German Grand Prix and the 55th of his career.
Vettel’s qualifying success makes him favorite to land his first Formula One victory at Hockenheim and only his second Grand Prix win in Germany as he seeks to extend his eight-point advantage over Hamilton.
Kimi Raikkonen was third in the second Ferrari ahead of Max Verstappen of Red Bull and the two Ferrari-powered Haas cars of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean.
Another home hope Nico Hulkenberg was seventh ahead of his Renault team-mate Carlos Sainz, rising Monegasque star Charles Leclerc of Sauber and Sergio Perez of Force India.
Hamilton, who had attempted to push his car to stay in contention, said: “It was definitely a tough one, but these things happen and all you can do is try and gather your thoughts and live to fight another day.
“I’ll give everything tomorrow to see how high I can get up, but its not going to be like Silverstone.”
Hamilton is expected to start 14th on the grid after his setback which saw him take a brief airborne excursion at Turn One and then go off again at Turn Eight.
He lost use of his gearbox and was told by the team to stop to avoid further damage, following a hydraulics failure.
After trying to push the car, he crouched over it as if praying before taking a motor-cycle ride back to the paddock.
It came two days after Mercedes confirmed he had signed a blockbuster two-year contract extension and followed other unexpected disappointments in Canada, Austria and Britain where Hamilton and his team had been unable to match expectations.
After heavy rain had washed out final practice in the morning, the session began in improved conditions and on a drying track, the two Saubers again setting the pace as they had in the rain.
The atmosphere was sultry with a track temperature of 27 degrees Celsius, air at 21 and humidity at 84 percent.
The two Ferraris were soon on top of the times ahead of the Mercedes before Verstappen entered the fray, Vettel having set an early lap record in 1:12.538 that was soon trimmed by his team-mate’s 1:12.505.
The Q1 segment ended with Ferrari on top and the elimination of Esteban Ocon of Force India, Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley of Toro Rosso, Lance Stroll of Williams and Stoffel Vandoorne of McLaren.
Hamilton clocked the fifth best time before his problems forced him to abandon.
Q2 began with Bottas on top before Ericsson went off in the stadium section, leaving gravel on the circuit as he recovered. The session was red-flagged for eight minutes.
Out from Q2 went Fernando Alonso of McLaren in 11th ahead of Sergey Sirotkin of Williams, Ericsson, Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo, who will start from the back of the grid after taking penalties for engine parts changes and did not clock a lap.
Raikkonen set the pace for Ferrari in Q3, but was outdone by Vettel and then Bottas to set up a final showdown for the big crowd.

Exciting opportunity for the world to see the real Saudi Arabia: sports chief

Updated 27 min 21 sec ago

Exciting opportunity for the world to see the real Saudi Arabia: sports chief

  • A combination of sandy stretches and gravel await the event’s thrill-seeking competitors

RIYADH: Organizers of the Dakar Rally Saudi Arabia 2020 have officially confirmed route details of the world’s most challenging rally race, which comes to Asia for the first time from Jan. 5 to 17 next year. 

Welcoming it as “an event of immense global appeal” that shows the Kingdom’s passion and obsession of motorsport, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Sport Authority (GSA),  said: “We have the privilege of launching chapter 3 of the Dakar story, introducing the race to Asia for the first time, where no country better describes the diversity of the desert terrains this continent has to offer than Saudi Arabia.

 “Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020 will go through various terrain and scenery, and will be an exciting opportunity for the world to see the real Saudi Arabia, to meet its generous people and to experience first-hand how we are driven by ambition, professionalism and the steadfast desire to succeed at the highest levels,” he added.

 Addressing more than 200 media outlets and broadcasters at a special press conference on Wednesday at the Arab World Institute in Paris, Prince Khalid bin Sultan Abdullah Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Arabian Federation of Motor and Motorcycle Sports, and the rally’s director, David Castera, confirmed details of the 12 Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020 stages.

 “Saudi Arabia and the Dakar Rally come together to write a new chapter of achievements in the world of motorsports, a chapter headlined by the challenge of discovering a new land and written by the warm hospitality the Kingdom and its people have to offer,” Prince Khalid said.

 “Through this inaugural rally, the world will see our breath-taking desert, our vast land, and will also meet its generous people.

 “We want the world to see our fascinating desert waiting for the adventurous stories to be told. We want the world to see, first-hand, the warm and generous hospitality the people of Saudi Arabia have to offer. We are eager to welcome the world to our country, and to witness our vision, capability and professionalism in hosting the biggest sporting events at the highest levels,” he added.

 Extending over 7,500 kilometers of the Kingdom’s vast and unexplored desert, Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020 gets under way in Jeddah before drivers and crews navigate their way through the fast and winding dunes and stones for 752 kilometers.

 The intimidating challenge continues north along the coast for nearly 900 kilometers through the Red Sea Project, until it reaches the futuristic megacity of Neom, where the marvelous journey reaches its highest point at an altitude of 1,400 meters amid a series of canyons and mountains.

 A combination of sandy stretches and gravel await Dakar’s thrill-seeking competitors as they cruise next through 676 kilometers of the formidable trip from Neom to Al-Ula in Dakar’s fourth stage before the sandy hills of Ha’il put the navigation skills of competitors to the test while descending south onto Riyadh.

A rest day in the capital will be followed by Dakar Saudi Arabia’s next stage of 741 kilometers as the route takes a turn to the west in the center of the Kingdom’s enormous desert before looping back toward Haradh in the eastern governorate of Al-Ahsa, marking the entrance to the Empty Quarter and building up to the grand finale in Qiddiya, a future entertainment, sports and cultural destination, where the winner will be crowned.

Highlighting the magnitude of competing in the Dakar Rally and finishing the unnerving challenge, Castera said: “Crossing the Dakar finish line is nothing short of living the dream. You can do it on your first go, and sometimes your hopes may be dashed, but ultimately perseverance and clever strategy are most often rewarded. The happiness of these drivers and co-drivers also translates to the satisfaction of the organizers.

“In Africa, then in South America and now in Saudi Arabia for the launch of this new chapter, this extraordinary rally has always strived to accompany its competitors in the ultimate quest,”
he added.

Drivers from more than 62 different countries have registered to experience the unchartered and spectacular terrain of Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020, where they will drive specially modified vehicles, trucks, quads, SxS, and motorbikes, designed to handle 12 stages of challenging terrain.