Friday’s two practice sessions being cancelled means we could be in for all kinds of drama in this afternoon’s qualifying and tomorrow’s race.
Teams will be working with far less data at a track F1 hasn’t been seen since 2013, when cars were not run on V6 hybrid engines.
Mercedes have had to deal with the added concerns of a potential COVID-19 outbreak. Two team members have tested positive with six members of a group that travelled together all in self-isolation.
The Silver Arrows are limiting interaction between Hamilton, Bottas and the rest of their team as much as possible in Germany.
And team boss Toto Wolff said: “Obviously the drivers are the most restricted of the whole group, of the whole team.
“Certainly it’s not a great situation for them because you almost need to live like a hermit and that’s what they are doing. They are at home, they are not going out for dinners. They are not meeting any other people.
“Within the team we do the debriefs via Zoom or Microsoft Teams. They are not sitting with the engineers in the room. They are sitting in their own rooms and we are avoiding as much as possible any personal contact with them.
“And we try do it as literally them stepping into the car and keeping their distance as we belt them in and then drive. Because that is really critical for the championship, if you miss a race or two.
“So, unfortunately for them, they need to live a life that is a bit secluded, but we think the decisions we have taken are good and protect them.”
Bottas added: “I think for sure as a driver, the last thing you want is to get it. It will definitely mean missing at least one race, maybe even more, and we had one example of that already.
“So of course [it’s about] being as cautious as you can, and following the protocols and trying to be sensible and stay in the bubble.
“Of course, I think sometimes it can be a matter of luck, because it’s pretty contagious, but we’re all trying to do the best we can not to get it.”
Hamilton sits 44 points clear of team-mate Bottas atop the driver’s standings with Verstappen 33 points behind the Finn.
The British six-time world champion would equal Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of race wins if he reached the finish line first on Sunday.
Valtteri Bottas, who won the last race in Russia, finished top of the timesheet in the only practice session ahead of qualifying.
The Mercedes driver was quicker than team-mate Lewis Hamilton, his fastest lap just over a tenth of a second quicker than the Brit’s.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was surprisingly third fastest with the Red Bull of Max Verstappen behind him.
Leclerc’s team-mate Sebastian Ferrari ended in fifth despite a spin early in the session.
Meanwhile, Lance Stroll has been replaced Nico Hulkenberg for Racing Point. The Canadian missed FP3 due to feeling unwell.
Stroll’s condition was assessed prior to qualifying to evaluate whether or not he was fit to drive and it was decided Hulkenberg would replace him for today and tomorrow.
16) Romain Grosjean 17) George Russell 18) Nicholas Latifi 19) Kimi Raikkonen 20) Nico Hulkenberg
Disappointment for Nico Hulkenberg, who finishes last, but given he didn’t have any practice whatsoever at the Nurburgring today or yesterday, it’s no slant against the German’s abilities.
Antonio Giovinazzi makes it into Q2 for the first time this season in the Alfa Romeo while after ending up 17th, Williams’ George Russell insists: “Not good enough.”
The Brit still finished ahead of his team-mate Nicholas Latifi, though, and ahead of Kimi Raikkonen ahead of the veteran’s 323rd Grand Prix.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen goes fastest, two tenths of a second quicker than Valtteri Bottas. Lewis Hamilton, in the other Mercedes, ends third.
11) Sebastian Vettel 12) Pierre Gasly 13) Daniil Kvyat 14) Antonio Giovinazzi 15) Kevin Magnussen
Excellent from Charles Leclerc who goes fifth in his Ferrari as team-mate Sebastian Vettel is eliminated.
It’s the seventh successive race that Vettel has failed to make Q3 and he has a wave to his fans on his way back to the pits.
Further up the grid, Verstappen ends just seven hundredths off of the new pace-setter Hamilton, who has switched to soft tyres.
Bottas has also gone on to softs but the Finn, in third, is a chasmic 0.581s behind his Mercedes counterpart.
Results will be confirmed once session is completed.
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