Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton takes pole for German GP

Nuerburgring, Germany: Lewis Hamilton raced his Mercedes to pole position for Sunday's German Grand Prix, edging Red Bull's three-time defending Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel.

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 second qualifying session.

Lewis Hamilton. AP

Lewis Hamilton. AP

Hamilton set the fastest qualifying time on Saturday of 1 minute, 29.398 seconds. Vettel had dominated the last two practice sessions but ended up .103 seconds behind Hamilton, who gained his 29th career pole.

Mark Webber in the second Red Bull was third, with the Lotus pair of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean next.

Daniel Ricciardo of Toro Rosso was sixth, Felipe Massa of Ferrari seventh and his teammate Fernando Alonso eighth.

Rosberg, winner of two of the last three races, was sitting second midway through the second qualifying session and his team left him in the garage, apparently believing his time was good enough to put him into the top 10 for the third and decisive session.

But Raikkonen led a charge of late efforts and Rosberg watched from the garage as he was eliminated.

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.

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 he was confident that there would be no tire problems serious enough to force drivers to pull out for their safety.

Associated Press