Sun, Jul 07, 2013 - Page 20 News List

FORMULA 1: Hamilton snatches pole from Vettel in dramatic late push

AFP, NUERBURGRING, Germany

Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton reacts after the qualifying session at the Nuerburgring yesterday ahead of the German Grand Prix today.

Photo: AFP

Lewis Hamilton delighted a vast crowd of Mercedes fans when he secured his second pole position in succession yesterday with a dramatic fastest lap in the final seconds of qualifying.

Just a week after his dazzling feat at Silverstone in the British Grand Prix, he did the same again ahead of today’s German Grand Prix with an assurance that stunned his rivals.

The 28-year-old Briton, world champion in 2008, clocked a fastest lap of 1 minute, 29.398 seconds in his Mercedes to outpace nearest rival Sebastian Vettel by one-tenth of a second in a dramatic finale to a tense hour’s action.

It had looked as if the Red Bull driver’s lap was fast enough for pole as he sought to set himself up to bid for a first win on home soil in the 60-lap race until Hamilton had the last word.

It was Hamilton’s third pole position of the season and the 29th of his career, pulling him level with Argentine legend Juan Manuel Fangio and defending triple world champion and current series leader Vettel in the record books.

Vettel’s Red Bull teammate Australian Mark Webber was third fastest ahead of Finn Kimi Raikkonen and his Lotus teammate, Frenchman Romain Grosjean.

In an unexpectedly brilliant display of pace, F1’s second Australian, Daniel Ricciardo, qualified sixth for Toro Rosso ahead of the two Ferraris of Brazilian Felipe Massa and Spaniard Fernando Alonso — the Italian team having changed strategy to run on medium-hard tires in the third qualifying session.

Briton Jenson Button was ninth for McLaren and German Nico Hulkenberg 10th for Sauber on an afternoon when Hamilton’s teammate German Nico Rosberg missed the cut and qualified 11th.

Both Button and Hulkenberg chose not to clock a time in the session as they, like the Ferrari men, opted to go for race strategy instead of grid positions.

Hamilton said: “It’s really overwhelming. I’ve been struggling since the first run in P1. It was pretty good, but P2 and P3 were disasters, and it got worse this morning. I wasn’t comfortable with the car at all.”

“We went back to the truck, tried to analyze everything and made lots of changes, and hoped it would work,” he added.

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