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Hamilton takes pole as Mercedes messes up

NEWS STORY
06/07/2013

Ahead of today’s qualifying session, the air temperature is 24 degrees C, while the track temperature is 42 degrees.

Sebastian Vettel showed blistering pace this morning, the German demonstrating supreme confidence by coming out in the closing moments of the session and posting a time 0.676s quicker than his nearest rival, Nico Rosberg.

With Mark Webber third quickest, Red Bull is looking strong, Vettel, eager to capitalise on this and take his first (F1) win on home soil.

While Rosberg split the Red Bulls, Mercedes, despite a clear step forward in recent weeks, saw teammate Lewis Hamilton struggling. Whilst Rosberg suffered understeer his teammate was encountering major oversteer.

Indeed, a number of drivers are suffering handling problems the ‘revised’ Pirelli tyres seeming to have put some of the teams back a few paces.

Lotus, which has opted to drop its Device for the remainder of the weekend, is on the pace but will clearly be hoping for warmer temperatures, while Ferrari seems to have made a slight improvement on yesterday.

While Red Bull has the edge over Mercedes it is difficult to sense the form of the remainder of the field, the tyre saga seeming to have caused some teams to take a step forward and others a step back. Then again, we don’t know if this is a temporary blip or whether the status-quo of the first half of the season has been turned on its head.

One team that is still hurting is Williams. The Grove outfit, celebrating its 600th Grand Prix this weekend, is but a shadow of its former self and one can almost imagine the buzzards hovering overhead. Then again, Sauber is also looking to be on the edge of the precipice.

Tyre options are medium (prime) and soft (option), drop-off quite alarming as far as the option tyres are concerned. There are two DRS zone, the first on the main pit straight and the other between Turns 11 and 13.

Mercedes would dearly love pole here on home soil, but it will take an effort of almost superhuman proportions – or very, very, little fuel, to beat the mighty Red Bulls this afternoon.

Di Resta gets proceedings underway, the Scot eclipsed by his German teammate for much of the weekend thus far. He is subsequently joined by Bianchi and Chilton.

As di Resta begins his flying lap, more and more drivers head down the pitlane. Most, but not all, on the softer rubber.

Di Resta (prime) posts 1:41.226 while Bianchi crosses the line at 34.056.

Next time around di Resta posts a more sensible 32.911 but this is soon beaten by Maldonado and his 31.834. Moments later, Bottas goes second (31.836), ahead of Gutierrez, di Resta and Pic.

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