Lewis Hamilton took the 87th pole position of his career at the German Grand Prix as Ferrari suffered separate reliability issues that took both cars out of qualifying.
Ferrari was fastest in all three practice sessions but Sebastian Vettel failed to set a time in Q1 as Charles Leclerc set the pace. Leclerc was second fastest in Q2 and the slight favorite for pole position when he suffered a fuel system issue that meant he couldn’t take part in the final session and will start from 10th at best.
Vettel reported a loss of power on his out lap at the start of qualifying and returned to the garage for investigations, with Ferrari discovering a problem with the airflow to the turbocharger that couldn’t be rectified in time for the German to take part.
With the two Ferraris out of the picture, Hamilton posted a 1m11.767s to ease to pole position by over 0.3s, with Max Verstappen managing to join him on the front row but failing to improve on his final attempt.
Valtteri Bottas will start from third after losing out to Verstappen by just 0.016s, with Pierre Gasly fourth despite a late scare as he had a lap time deleted. Drivers were warned about track limits at both Turn 1 and the final corner, and Gasly’s original last lap was within 0.1s of his teammate before it was ruled out. That left the Frenchman just 0.016s clear of Kimi Raikkonen in fifth, as Alfa Romeo provided the lead Ferrari-powered car on the grid.
Haas continued its bizarre form with Romain Grosjean securing sixth place alongside Raikkonen, beating Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg.
Classified 10th, Leclerc will join both Mercedes drivers in starting the race on medium tires after setting their best times on those in Q2, while Verstappen had tried a similar approach but was hampered by reliability issues. Verstappen reported a loss of power and had to return to the pits for the issue to be resolved, with a late lap on softs then required to get him through.
Amid all the drama at Ferrari and Red Bull, there was an incredibly tight midfield battle for the final places in Q3, as just 0.033s covered Hulkenberg in P8, Grosjean, Perez, Antonio Giovinazzi, Kevin Magnussen and Daniel Ricciardo.
The latter three dropped out in the second part of qualifying, along with Daniil Kvyat, while Lance Stroll made it through to Q2 for the first time as a Racing Point driver but then delivered a scruffy lap at the end of the second session and dropped out in 15th while his teammate advanced.
Vettel was the major talking point of Q1, but there was also a shock as Lando Norris failed to make it out for the first part of qualifying for the first time this season. Norris ended up just under 0.1s off Stroll after a scruffy lap, with a final attempt on older tires proving too much to ask.
With the McLaren rookie trying to improve at the end of the session, Alexander Albon was caught out of position as he got held up behind Norris on his own final attempt, meaning both dropped out alongside the Williams pair of George Russell and Robert Kubica.
There was a close moment in the pit lane as Kvyat was released in front of Grosjean — resulting in the Haas driver pulling to the inside of the pit lane to try and overtake before slotting in behind — in an incident that will be investigated after the session.