Much work has been done on the tyres, so credit to Pirelli given the short time window they had to play with. Drivers had threatened to boycott the German Grand Prix but the action (assuming it works) appears to have prevented such a PR catastrophe.
The tyres are medium and soft.
I only caught the back end of P1. Hamilton was fastest, followed by Rosberg, Webber, Sutil, Raikkonen, Massa, Button, Vettel, Grosjean and Perez. The Silver Arrows were a second ahead of the competition. I suspect some of that may be fuel, but unless the other teams had a fat passenger in their cars that’s ominous for the others.
In P2 Vettel was fastest, followed by Rosberg, Webber, Grosjean, Raikkonen, Alonso, Massa, Hamilton, Button and Di Resta.
An interesting comment was made by Rosberg about the new tyres. He reckons that although Mercedes isn’t helped by default, if the team can understand them more rapidly than others then that could make a few tenths of a second difference, enough to really help them. The same, of course, is true of other teams, so the tyres could slightly alter the pecking order. In addition, the tyres are apparently going to be significantly altered after this weekend, when Pirelli have rather more time for development.
McNish reckoned that higher temperature were better for Ferrari and especially the Lotus. Anderson reckoned the tyre change would help some teams including Ferrari and Lotus.
During P3 Hamilton was warned to be wary of the kerb on turn 4 because of damage, which the commentators speculated referred to damage to the kerb itself rather than a risk of a repeat of Silverstone tyre-shredding. Hamilton later said (in a depressed voice) that he could not drive the car anymore it was so bad. Interestingly, Pastor Maldonado also said he could not drive the car. Pit stops costs about 17 seconds, which is not too bad, and the softer tyre is a second or so faster, but degrades around lap 8-10.
P3 had Vettel fastest by a sizeable margin, followed by Rosberg, Webber and then Alonso and Massa. Raikkonen was next, then Hamilton was a lacklustre seventh, Grosjean eighth, then Hulkenberg and Sutil.
Because Vettel put in not one but two laps half a second ahead of Rosberg I think he’s adapted best to the new tyres and have backed him, without a hedge, at 2.03 for pole (Betfair).
I’ve also laid Hamilton at 1.64 to be in the top 3 of qualifying, hedged at 5 (in this case, of course, a hedge is a back rather than a lay). My reasoning is that he complained numerous times about serious problems driving the car during P3, his time was some way off his team mate and he was behind Raikkonen and both Ferraris. Even if he improves both Red Bulls and Rosberg could beat him.
For reasons which are annoying and beyond my control I may well be unable to listen to qualifying live. Assuming that’s the case, I might well leave it and watch the highlights, and then make the pre-race post.