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Rosberg takes Hockenheim pole despite late electrics scare

NEWS STORY
30/07/2016

Ahead of today's qualifying session, the air temperature is 26 degrees C, whilst the track temperature is 39 degrees. Although bright it has clouded over a little since FP1.

Nico Rosberg has been quickest in all three session thus far, and while teammate Lewis Hamilton closed in the morning, the German was confident enough to climb from his car before session end and drink a bottle of water as he chatted with his engineers.

It's very close behind the Mercedes duo with the Ferraris and Red Bulls pretty evenly matched, Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen looing stronger than their respective teammates earlier.

Behind it is as tight as ever, with Williams, Force India, Toro Rosso and McLaren all looking strong, Jenson Button showing no after effects of yesterday's eye issue.

However, as we look ahead to the session there is a dark shadow hanging over the circuit, and no, it has nothing to do with the weather gods.

For some time now, many have suspected that the FIA makes up some of the rules as it goes along, and as Charlie Whiting changes the rules on track limits virtually session by session one cannot help but feel that it will end in tears.

Following yesterday's directive, this morning Whiting issued an update: "Based upon our observations of the way in which the new kerb on the exit of turn 12 is used, and the comments made in the meeting yesterday evening, we feel that the usable track limit at turn 1 should be the outer edge of the kerb, i.e. the edge furthest from the track. The performance of any driver going beyond this point, with any part of the car, will be examined in order to establish whether or not an advantage was gained by exceeding this limit."

It remains to be seen how this works out for them.

In another move, prompted by last week's shenanigans, in the event of any incident which involved double-yellows the session will be red flagged with immediate effect.

As ever there are two DRS zones. The detection point of the first is 110m before Turn One, with the activation point 60m after Turn One. The second detection point is at the exit of Turn Four, with the activation point 260m after Turn Four.

Tyre compounds are medium, soft and supersoft.

Following his issues in yesterday's sessions, things took a turn for the worse in FP3 for Romain Grosjean. Having suffered a gearbox issue which sent the car into a spin, the team opted to choose the unit meaning the hapless Frenchman incurs a 5-place grid penalty. That's assuming of course, that the team has managed to change his gearbox between the two sessions.

Good to see a lot more fans in the stands than yesterday.

The session begins and Wehrlein gets things underway, followed by teammate Haryanto who could be masking his final F1 appearance here tomorrow. The Haas duo and Perez are the other early risers.

Impressive work by the Haas crew in Grosjean's case.

Haryanto gets the first time on the door, the Indonesian posting a 17.701.

Of the first, somewhat minor, wave, Gutierrez is quickest (17.052) ahead of Grosjean, Wehrlein and Haryanto.

More and more drivers emerge, including the Mercedes duo, both of whom are on the soft rubber.

A 16.949 sees Button go quickest, but as Bottas demotes him with a 15.952, Rosberg bangs in a 15.485 and Hamilton a 15.243.

Verstappen goes third (15.875) and Vettel fourth (15.927), the German 0.684s off the pace.

Raikkonen takes third, the Finn 0.509s down on Hamilton.

"OK, not a 100% tidy lap, but should be good enough," says Vettel.

A 15.591 sees Ricciardo take third, thereby demoting Raikkonen.

Grosjean, Magnussen, Palmer, Nasr and Ericsson comprise the drop zone, with Haryanto, Gutierrez and Kvyat hovering.

A late improvement for Grosjean who goes eleventh, while Ericsson is only able to manage 20th.

Gutierrez goes eighth which drops Button into the drop zone.

Kvyat fails to improve while Palmer improves to fourteenth and Button tenth.

Sainz improves to twelfth, which is bad news for Magnussen who fails to make the cut.

Quickest in Q1 was Hamilton, ahead of Rosberg, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Vettel, Bottas, Gutierrez, Perez and Button.

We lose Magnussen, Wehrlein, Kvyat, Haryanto, Nasr and Ericsson.

The Mercedes duo are first out for Q2, Rosberg leading the way.

Rosberg posts 14.839 but Hamilton bangs in a 14.748.

As the two ease off, Verstappen and the Ricciardo head down the pitlane.

As the Red Bull duo begin their flying laps, most of their rivals head out, all but the Ferraris.

Verstappen posts 15.124, 0.376s off Hamilton's time, while Ricciardo, who has a very untied lap, can only manage 15.602.

Bottas goes fifth, ahead of Sainz and Button.

Understandably there are a lot of PBs but not a hint of a purple.

Vettel goes fifth (15.630), only to be demoted when Raikkonen goes fourth with a 15.242.

With 4:20 remaining, the drop zone comprises Gutierrez, Grosjean, Sainz, Alonso, Button and Palmer.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Hockenheim, here.

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