Nico Rosberg fastest in final practice for German GP
HOCKENHEIM, Germany (AP) Nico Rosberg snatched the pole position for Sunday's German Grand Prix from Mercedes teammate and Formula One championship leader Lewis Hamilton with a late single lap.
Rosberg was the fastest in all three practice runs but trailed Hamilton in the final of the three qualifying sessions Saturday - after experiencing problems with the throttle at the start of Q3 - until his last lap.
Hamilton had the chance to eclipse Rosberg's time but his last lap was not fast enough.
''A great lap, especially since I had extra fuel, I had fuel for three laps in case something went wrong and I had to do an extra lap,'' Rosberg said after his 27th career pole.
Hamilton ended up .107 seconds behind Rosberg, with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen taking the second row on the grid in their Red Bulls. The Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel will be in the third row.
''I had an electronic problem with my throttle on my first quick run in Q3, so I had to abort,'' Rosberg said. ''I did a pretty good lap but I wasn't sure if that was enough.
''It was awesome to hear the fans cheering for me after my run. It's a great atmosphere here in Hockenheim and I can't wait for tomorrow.''
Three-time world champion Hamilton, winner of the last two titles, has won five of the last six races and leads Rosberg by six points in the standings.
''It has been a good weekend. I had no problems,'' said a disappointed-looking Hamilton, giving brief answers at the post-qualifying news conference.
''I had the pace today, just didn't finish it off. I didn't lock up. It should be a good day for Mercedes tomorrow,'' Hamilton said.
In a team statement, Hamilton expanded: ''There was nothing particularly wrong today. My final lap just didn't work out.
''It was pretty close out there and sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don't. The car was feeling great. The team did a great job to get it where I needed it to be and it was definitely on for pole. I've missed out on pole, so I didn't do what I was supposed to do - but it's in the past now, so you just let it go and look forward.
''It doesn't mean the race isn't there to win tomorrow. But this is a track where you can overtake, so I don't have to go for it at the first corner,'' Hamilton said.
Rosberg also started from pole in Hungary last Sunday but was beaten to the first turn by Hamilton, who went on to win the race and take over the lead in the standings.
Rosberg won the last race here in 2014 from pole. This was his fifth pole of the season. No German driver has won back-to-back races at home. There was no race in Germany last year.
Keke Rosberg, Nico's father, won pole in Hockenheim 30 years ago. He finished fifth in the race, won by Nelson Piquet. Nico Rosberg was one year old at the time.
The Red Bulls managed to finish ahead of the two Ferraris. Ferrari is winless after 11 races this year, with 10 remaining.
''I think we got pretty close to the Mercedes,'' Ricciardo said. ''My first lap in Q3 was really good and I knew there was probably not much more on the table. There was maybe a tenth of a second in it if there was a perfect lap.
''We might have different tires available for us for the race and hopefully that makes it interesting,'' Ricciardo said.
Ricciardo's teammate Verstappen is the only driver to win a race this season apart from Rosberg and Hamilton.
Vettel, a four-time champion with Red Bull, was hoping for a stronger showing in his first race with Ferrari in Germany. Vettel was born and grew up in nearby Heppenheim and considers Hockenheim his home course.
''I didn't feel that comfortable in qualifying,'' Vettel said. ''We're not here to start P5 or P6. We have fallen back.''
Ferrari parted company with technical director James Allison just before arriving in Germany and appointed Mattia Binotto as chief technical officer.
This story has been corrected to fix number of poles for Rosberg to 27.