Haas F1 Team drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean earned strong starting positions for Sunday's German Grand Prix by advancing to the final round of knockout qualifying Saturday at the Hockenheimring. The duo qualified an impressive fifth and sixth, respectively, as the American squad placed both its drivers into Q3 for the fourth straight race, as well as the sixth time this season.
Magnussen's performance gave Haas F1 Team its best qualifying effort to date, bettering its previous best of sixth, earned most recently by Grosjean June 30 during the Austrian Grand Prix, and by Magnussen and Grosjean in the 2018 and 2017 Australian Grands Prix, respectively. The German Grand Prix is the 11th race of 2018 and just the 52nd race for Haas F1 Team since its debut in the 2016 Australian Grand Prix.
Grosjean set the fourth-fastest time in Q1 with a lap of 1:12.986 around the 4.574-kilometer (2.842-mile), 17-turn circuit in Baden-Württemberg, earning the highest mark in any round of qualifying for Haas F1 Team in its three-year history. Magnussen was seventh quickest with a lap of 1:13.105. Only the top-15 drivers move on to Q2.
In Q2, Magnussen earned the fifth-fastest time with a lap of 1:12.523 and Grosjean was right behind in sixth with a lap of 1:12.722, allowing each driver to handily make the top-10 cutoff and advance to Q3.
Q3 featured the heavy hitters of Formula One, with four-time and reigning champion Mercedes, 16-time champion Scuderia Ferrari and four-time champion Red Bull all represented, albeit with marquee drivers Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) missing after both encountered mechanical issues that kept them out of Q3. Haas F1 Team nevertheless held its own among these giants, with Magnussen qualifying a best-of-the-rest fifth with a lap of 1:12.200 and Grosjean taking sixth with a lap of 1:12.544.
It was Magnussen's second top-five qualifying effort in the German Grand Prix, as he qualified fourth at the Hockenheimring in 2014. This was Grosjean's best qualifying performance at the Hockenheimring and his second-best qualifying effort in the German Grand Prix, as he qualified fifth at the Nurburgring in 2013.
Both Magnussen and Grosjean ran exclusively on the Pirelli P Zero Purple ultrasoft tire throughout qualifying.
Before Magnussen, Grosjean and the rest of their Formula One counterparts participated in knockout qualifying, they had one final practice (FP3) to dial in their racecars for a quick lap around the track. Unfortunately, rain dominated the session, with both Haas F1 Team drivers confined to the garage following a two-lap exploratory run on the Pirelli Cinturato Blue full wet tire. A handful of drivers did venture onto the track in the final minutes. Sauber's Charles Leclerc set the quickest time among the nine drivers who turned any laps at speed, with his time of 1:34.577 being .423 of a second faster than his nearest pursuer and teammate, Marcus Ericsson.
Romain Grosjean: "It was a pretty good session. We just need to see what happened on my last run. I went wide on turn one, so we just have analyze that. We couldn't do the second push lap in Q3, unfortunately, but all in all, it was a good session. I'm really happy for the team. On a track were we were not sure we'd be competitive, we've been good. We're right up there, so that's very encouraging. We'll see what the weather's like Sunday. There's a bit of uncertainty about that, but I don't think we'll mind cooler conditions. I think we're in a good place for tomorrow."
Kevin Magnussen: "That was a nice lap at the end. There was no beating the Red Bulls - they're still too far ahead for us to play with them, but we're best of the rest again, and that's our target. Now we just need to get it tomorrow as well, which is the bigger challenge. For tomorrow, you just hope the guys ahead get a good start so we can get some free air and do our own thing. We're lucky that it's looking like the temperatures will be a little bit cooler. With the problems we had on Friday with the overheating of the tires, maybe it'll be a bit better. Hopefully, the car will behave well, as it did today, and we can score some good points."
Guenther Steiner: "It's a very happy day today. Qualifying fifth and sixth is the best. That's what we wanted to achieve, and that's what we did achieve. It was a good job from everybody. Now we look forward to going racing tomorrow."
Check out our Saturday gallery from Hockenheim, here.