It makes a lot of sense to see a team firing the opening salvo at its home race. So as Mercedes took pole position for the 2020 Eifel GP, it made sense that a German team stood on the top step at an iconic venue, in the country of its origin. Moreover, at the incredible and intoxicating Nurburgring- a track that’s as steeped in history as it is challenging in equal measure.
But what made even more sense at the 2020 Eifel GP qualifying was that the team that’s found a little match on pure pace and consistency was the one essaying the headlines, again.
As Nurburgring made a return to the top annals of Formula 1 after a gap of 7 years, it was Car #77 that led the charge at the front, Bottas recording a flying lap time of 1:25:269.
In the process of garnering his third pole of the season, the Finn pipped teammate Lewis Hamilton, who you were compelled to wonder probably took a more cautious approach in the final stages of the qualifying run at the heart of the glorious Eifel mountains.
Max Verstappen of Red Bull, who won at Hockenheim in Germany in 2019, followed in third, but not before getting provisional pole, having set a ballsy 1:25:744 before Bottas would come and undo his hard work.
Down in fourth but not in spirits in any certain way given his stellar effort, was Charles Leclerc, his Ferrari splitting the two Red Bulls, with Alexander Albon following in fifth.
Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo, one of only eight drivers to have previously raced at the famous Nurburgring out-qualified his teammate Esteban Ocon, once again, the two Renaults stacked in sixth and seventh, respectively.
A midfield with the local hero down in P11
Lando Norris, yet another youngster all set to drive at the iconic German destination (famously nicknamed ‘Green Hell’) for the first time much like the better part of the grid save Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Vettel, Grosjean, Hamilton, Bottas, and Hulkenberg, positioned himself on eighth. He was followed by Perez, the only Racing Point able to break into the top ten, with Carlos Sainz Jr. taking P10.
It wasn’t the greatest day out there for local-favorite Sebastian Vettel, who, lest it is forgotten, was the winner of the 2013 race held at the very venue, when F1 last raced at Nurburgring.
Following the four-time world champion were the two Alpha Tauris with Gasly (P9 at qualifying in Russia) managing a sedate P12 as teammate Kvyat going no better than thirteenth.
That told, the greatest headliner from the midfield was Italian driver Antonio Giovinazzi, the Martina Franca-born making it to Q2 for the first time this season. It was a sterling effort as a result of which, the Alfa Romeo would grab P14, just ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen.
Interestingly, it was Giovinazzi, not Raikkonen, who also helped open the Hinwill-based outfit’s account this season with many calling the tall driver’s Eifel GP qualifying drive a career-saving effort.
Down in sixteenth was Romain Grosjean, who back in 2013, took the third step of the podium at the very venue, then with Lotus-Renault.
Further back down, young George Russell continued his good work in the sport, yet another qualifying run where the young Englishman outpaced rookie driver Nicholas Latifi.
Poor Kimi, but an even poorer result for Hulkenberg
Though that said, it’s not hard to note why two drivers, in particular, would be begrudged with their results on Saturday. Among them- Kimi Raikkonen, who’ll start his 323rd F1 race from nineteenth, another record for the Iceman, this time for most race starts, one ahead of former Ferrari driver Rubens Barichello.
Though, over half a decade back in the day, Raikkonen ended second in 2013, just behind Vettel’s winning Red Bull at the famous Nurburgring. Finally, Nico Hulkenberg, filling in for Racing Point on yet another occasion, with Lance Stroll sitting out owing to health reasons, would certainly not be too pleased being the backmarker.
The big milestone!
That being told, in the next few hours, it is expected that the Eifel GP at the Nurburgring will hopefully unfurl another race to remember, where should Hamilton find a way to breach past Bottas’ defences, something countless fans would want, the Briton would record the most number of wins in the history of F1 ever drawing level with Micheal Schumacher.