Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton is on pole for the German Grand Prix. Photo: Jens Meyer/AP Photo

HOCKENHEIM Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton snatched pole position on Saturday for Sunday's German Formula One Grand Prix after Ferrari duo Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc both suffered car problems when looking well set.

A power problem meant Vettel failed to set a time in the opening Q1 of qualifying and is poised to have to start his home race from the back of the grid.

Leclerc, quickest in second and third practice, meanwhile failed to leave the garage in Q3 and is due to start in 10th.

World champion and championship leader Hamilton had looked off the pace in practice but took his 87th pole ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

"You never stop to amaze us, congratulations," Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff told Hamilton over the radio.

Hamilton told reporters: "I don't really know how we did it."

Pierre Gasly was fourth quickest in his Red Bull with Kimi Raikkonen fifth in the Alfa Romeo ahead of Romain Grosjean, Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez and Nico Huelkenberg.

Vettel, yet to win this year during a hugely disappointing season, could only look on forlornly with his helmet off as mechanics scratched their heads about his power issue.

The four-times world champion, quickest in first practice on Friday, crashed out while leading the German Grand Prix last year.

"I don't know what happened - something broke from the turbo," Vettel told BBC radio.

"The car was great but we lost out on a chance. The car was good, we did some changes that would have been great but it is not meant to be."

This could end up being his final race in front of his home fans with Hockenheim bosses doubtful they will be able to host the event again because of costs and competition from new venues in Vietnam and the Netherlands on the calendar.

Mercedes have won all but one race so far this year with Hamilton streaking away at the top of the driver standings. But the Briton had been struggling in south-west Germany before Ferrari again shot themselves in the foot after the latest mishap in two dreadful seasons.

Mercedes brought out a new white livery for their home race to celebrate 125 years of their involvement in motorsport as well their 200th Formula One start. The white mirrored the colours of the old Germany team but few home fans could have predicted a pole position.

As well as Vettel, Q1 paid for McLaren's Lando Norris, Toro Rosso's Alexander Albon and the Williams duo of George Russell and Robert Kubica.

Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Daniel Ricciardo (Renault), Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) and Lance Stroll (Racing Point) went out in Q2 with Verstappen, winner last month in Austria, only just sneaking through to Q3 after an engine problem limited his track time.

dpa