The Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton used the red Pirelli P Zero soft tyre to claim pole at the German Grand Prix, after a tightly-fought qualifying. The Englishman set his quickest Q2 time on the medium: the tyre he will therefore start the race on. However, with rain forecast tomorrow, it's possible that the Cinturato intermediate or full wet will be seen during the race. Hamilton, claiming his fourth pole position of the season, received the Pirelli Pole Position award from the CEO of Pirelli Germany, Michael Wendt.
The optimal race strategy for the 67-lap German Grand Prix will depend on the quite unpredictable weather this weekend. If it rains, as seems possible, the top 10 drivers on the grid won't have the obligation to start on the tyres with which they set their best Q2 times, nor will they have to use more than one compound. But if it stays dry, with similar very warm conditions to FP2, a one-stopper should be the quickest way: starting on Yellow medium for 24 to 29 laps before switching to the White hard until the finish. Slightly slower than that will another one-stopper, but this time starting on Red soft for 18 to 22 laps before moving onto the hard.
A two-stopper is definitely slower, but one to bear in mind if the degradation on soft is higher than expected (in case the weather is warmer than anticipated, for example). In which case, it's equally as quick to do two stints on soft (of 15 to 18 laps each) and one stint on medium, or one stint on soft (of 15 to 18 laps) and two stints on medium (of 22 to 26 laps each).
The weather is the biggest talking point of the German Grand Prix, with cooler conditions and rain (after a very warm weekend so far) expected for the race tomorrow, which would obviously throw any pre-programmed strategies out of the window. Conditions remained dry throughout FP3 and qualifying today, albeit with lower temperatures than yesterday.
Ferrari has been the dominant team in free practice so far with Charles Leclerc, but both cars have had mechanical problems. Leclerc will provisionally start from 10th after an issue in Q3 while Sebastian Vettel will start from the back following another problem in Q1. This will give him a free choice of tyres (if it's dry).
Strategy: with the medium the theoretically better tyre to start the race on, three cars in the top 10 on the grid (both Mercedes plus the Ferrari of Leclerc) will begin the race on this tyre, having used it to set their best times in Q2.
Tthere are eight different teams and four different engine suppliers in the top 10 on the grid. In the sessions, there were just 0.3 seconds between 5th and 16th in Q2, and a very tight gap behind the Mercedes and Red Bulls in Q3.
Mario Isola: "Strategy is likely to be at the forefront of the German Grand Prix, especially if it rains, in which case it will mostly be a question of reacting to changing circumstances with no wet-weather running seen so far this weekend and nobody having properly used wet-weather tyres during a race weekend so far this season. Already, we've had plenty of variables heading into the race, with problems for a couple of the frontrunners and different strategies used in qualifying, which means that it's difficult to anticipate exactly how the race will pan out. The two Mercedes start on what is theoretically the optimal tyre, with the Red Bull of Max Verstappen on the soft between them, but last year in Hockenheim showed just unpredictable this race can be."
Check out our Saturday gallery from Hockenheim, here.