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F1: Hamilton wins German GP pole as Vettel fails to advance from Q1

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Lewis Hamilton may have won the pole position for the German Grand Prix Saturday afternoon, but the big story of the day involves the driver who will start Sunday’s race from last place.

Local favorite Sebastian Vettel, who has already experienced plenty of misfortunes this season, failed to advance from Q1 for the first time since Malaysia in 2017. The German driver reported to his crew that his Ferrari had lost power early on in the session, sending the four-time World Champion into the garage. He would not complete another lap in qualifying.

“”I don’t know what happened – something was broken with the turbo,” Vettel said. “It’s bitter for us. The car feels great and we have missed a big opportunity here.”

Vettel’s teammate Charles Leclerc would experience issues of his own, claiming to have suffered a fuel system issue. Leclerc qualified 10th after being the slowest in Q3.

Ferrari’s losses would be Lewis Hamilton’s gain, as the current World Championship points leader would set a lap of 1 minute, 11.767 seconds around the 2.842-mile, 17-turn Hockenheimring circuit early on in Q3 to collect his fourth pole position of the 2019 season.

“I don’t know really how we did it today – I’m not quite sure what happened to the Ferraris,” Hamilton said. “It’s so important to us, at our second home Grand Prix.

“I think if Leclerc had done a lap at the end, it would have been close between us.”

Max Verstappen qualified second with an elapsed time of 1 minute, 12.113 seconds in his Red Bull entry, while Valterri Bottas (1 minute, 12.129 seconds) qualified third.

Pierre Gasly qualified fourth for Red Bull, while Kimi Räikkönen will start Sunday’s race from P5.

Romain Grosjean, Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez qualified sixth through eighth, respectfully, while Nico Hulkenberg – the only other German competitor in the race – qualified ninth. 

Full qualifying results and times are below:

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New study surveys drivers’ opinions on crashes, concussions, more

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Auto racing safety has continued to improve through the decades, but the sport remains inherently dangerous, according to a new survey.

At the close of 2018, a new organization called Racing Safety United emerged with the intention of reducing drivers’ risk of being harmed.

RSU is made up of more than 30 members including former NASCAR Cup Series competitor Jerry Nadeau, two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie, NHRA team owner Don Schumacher and motorsports journalist Dick Berggren.

One of RSU’s first initiatives was to determine what current drivers thought of racing safety. The organization developed a 14-question survey and promoted it on select motorsports websites and forums. 

Participants were given the opportunity to disclose their identity or remain anonymous, and those who provided contact information were entered to win a $500 prize (for anonymous participants, the prize funds would be donated to a motorsports charity). 

More than 140 individuals participated in the survey over the course of 12 months. Below are the results of the survey:

Driver status

The vast majority of survey participants (60%) were amateur racers, while 26% of the participants were classified as Semi-Pro/Professional racers. The remaining 14% consisted of other individuals involved in the sport such as team owners and crew chiefs. 

When asked how frequently they race, 58% of driver respondents averaged 10 or more times per year on track, while 42% averaged 10 times or less.

The top five tracks respondents said they raced most often: Road Atlanta (21 votes), Watkins Glen (17 votes), Virginia International Raceway (16 votes), Mid-Ohio (16 votes), and Road America (13 votes).

Vehicular damage, injuries common

Over a third of respondents said they had been injured while racing, and almost two-thirds sasid they had suffered severe vehicle damage while racing

Driver error was cited as the top cause of vehicle damage (42 mentions), followed by concrete walls (26 mentions), mechanical failures (24 mentions), and other drivers (19 mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for better driver training/coaching, energy absorbing walls, and more technical inspections.

Almost a quarter of drivers said they had experienced racing-related concussions, and nearly half the respondents said one or multiple concussions would affect their decision to race in the future. 

Drivers primarily influenced by peers 

Roughly half the drivers said they would consider adopting new safety equipment if influenced by another driver (51 total mentions) and/or if recommended by a sanctioning body (47 total mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for drivers to become safety advocates and educate other drivers and for sanctioning bodies to mandate safety equipment. 

Drivers concerned with concrete walls

Approximately three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said they believed certain race tracks were more dangerous than others. Nearly half the drivers surveyed believe that concrete walls were the primary cause of damage to drivers and vehicles. 

Drivers willing to help

Just more than three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said that they would be willing to join a safety alliance to advocate for safer tracks. Two-thirds of drivers said that they also would be willing to contribute to a motorsports safety fund.

Click here for the full results of RSU’s survey

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