The Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton has stormed to a dominant pole position in front of his home crowd at the British Grand Prix ahead of the Ferrari’s of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton was already on provisional pole after the opening Q3 runs, but went even faster to take pole by over half a second from his nearest rival. There was a small cloud of doubt over weather Hamilton would keep pole initially, following an investigation into an alleged block on the Haas of Romain Grosjean during the top ten shootout. The stewards decided in the end to clear the Brit of any wrongdoing. Which means his latest pole position has left him just one short of equalling Michael Schumacher’s all-time record for the most poles in F1.
“That lap felt great and I wasn’t expecting to have a gap like that,” said Hamilton as he celebrated the fifth pole position of his career on home soil.
Raikkonen will line up alongside Hamilton on the front row of the grid after narrowly out-qualifying his team mate Vettel. Ferrari should be happy with getting both cars ahead of one of the Mercedes, but at the same time will be disappointed Hamilton is on pole by over half a second, the largest gap for any pole position this season. Hamilton’s team mate Valtteri Bottas qualified fourth in the other Mercedes, but will start ninth following a five place gearbox penalty. Like Hamilton in Austria a week ago, Bottas will be attempting the contra strategy by starting on the soft tyres.
The fact Bottas is not towards the front of the grid does mean Hamilton will likely be left exposed to a twin threat from Ferrari tomorrow. Even if Hamilton manages to make a clean start, Ferrari can try to undercut the Mercedes with one of their drivers and attempt an overcut with the other in a ‘pincer-style’ movement. Throw in some of the traditional British summertime weather and we could be on for an explosive fight.
Red Bull pinned all their qualifying hopes in the end on Max Verstappen, who was able to deliver a solid fifth place for them. The Dutchman is looking to end his streak of non-finishes, which currently stands at five in the last seven races. It would appear that the bad luck in the team has shifted to Daniel Ricciardo, who suffered with an engine problem and had to park up on the side of track in Q1, temporarily bringing out the red flag. He will start at the back of the grid regardless of the five-place grid penalty he already has for an unscheduled gearbox change.
One of the standout performances of the session was the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg who qualified in sixth place. The team had a new floor on the car this weekend that both Hulkenberg and his team mate Jolyon Palmer tried out in the free practice sessions on Friday. Since there was only the one though the new floor was given to Hulkenberg, seeing as he was the lead driver in the championship. He qualified over a second quicker than Palmer, who wound up in 11th.
The Force India’s of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon once again showed they were on form in qualifying with yet another top ten start for the pair of them, with Perez seventh and Ocon eighth. Ocon’s eighth was even more impressive considering he suffered with a small brake fire during Q1. The team admitted that was as a result of setting the car up for a wet run when the track was already drying out. One of the other stars of qualifying was Stoffel Vandoorne in the McLaren, who managed to out-qualify his team mate to start ninth tomorrow. While the Haas of Romain Grosjean rounds out the top ten.
The highlight of the session by far though, was the McLaren of Fernando Alonso, who managed to set the fastest time in Q1 thanks to a last-minute switch from inters to slicks as the track began to dry. It was the first time since the Indian Grand Prix in 2013 with Jenson Button at the wheel, that a McLaren topped a qualifying sessions. It was rather bittersweet for Alonso though, who eventually qualified 13th, though will start at the back of the grid due to a thirty place grid penalty for changes to various engine components.
With fast drivers like Ricciardo and Bottas out of position tomorrow, as well as the ever looking option for changeable conditions in the race due to the British summertime, we could be on once again for another classic Silverstone showdown tomorrow.
British GP Qualifying Timesheet
1) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes: 1:26.600
2) Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari: + 0.547
3) Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari: +0.756
4) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes: +0.776 (Five place grid penalty not applied yet)
5) Max Verstappen, Red Bull: +1.530
6) Nico Hulkenberg, Renault: +2.256
7) Sergio Perez, Force India: +2.302
8) Esteban Ocon, Force India: +2.474
9) Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren: +2.818
10) Romain Grosjean, Haas: +2.949
Knocked out in Q2
11) Jolyon Palmer, Renault: 1:30.193
12) Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso: 1:30.355
13) Fernando Alonso, McLaren: 1:30.600 (30 place Gearbox penalty not applied yet)
14) Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso: 1:31.368
15) Felipe Massa, Williams: 1:31.482
Knocked out in Q1
16) Lance Stroll, Williams: 1:42.573
17) Kevin Magnussen, Haas: 1:42.577
18) Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber: 1:42.593
19) Marcus Ericsson, Sauber: 1:42.633
20) Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull: 1:42.966 (Five place grid penalty not applied yet)
Feature Image Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Release