Lewis Hamilton gave Mercedes its first pole position at the German Grand Prix since 1954 by edging Red Bull’s three-time defending Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel in Saturday’s qualifying.
Hamilton’s second consecutive pole and third of the season made up for the disappointment of seeing the second Mercedes driver, Nico Rosberg, knocked down to 11th at the end of the middle of three qualifying sessions because of an embarrassing miscalculation by the team.
The new tires held and the threat of a pullout in Sunday’s race by top drivers appeared averted.
Mercedes came into the race with pole in five of the previous six GPs but has struggled to sustain the challenge in actual racing conditions.
It is the first Mercedes pole at the German GP since Juan Manuel Fangio in 1954 at the old Nordschleife circuit and Hamilton is now level with Fangio on the all-time list of poles.
Mercedes did not race as a team in Formula One for 55 years, however, until it returned in 2010.
Hamilton held pole at the British GP last week but had an early puncture and finished fourth.
Many leading drivers had threatened to pull out of Sunday’s race if tire blowouts that plagued last week’s British GP persisted.
Supplier Pirelli made changes and the tires have held, reducing the risk of a pullout.
Vettel said Pirelli appeared to have done a good job and did not think there would be any reason to pull out of the race.
“I am confident that we won’t have any problems, I don’t expect any difficulties,” Vettel said.
Vettel said he was struggling “to get it together” in the first sector of the circuit and that the tail wind had been a factor. “We’ve done our homework and now it’s up to us,” said Vettel, who is seeking his first win on home soil.