Lewis Hamilton has secured his seventh pole position after going three tenths faster than teammate Valtteri Bottas in qualifying for the British Grand Prix. The six-times champion appeared to get the lap together to beat his teammate in gusty conditions, in a session where Mercedes was a second faster than the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.
The team went into qualifying as the favourites, Bottas setting the pace in both Q1 and Q2 but Hamilton remained in touching distance. Then in the final part, the Englishman set out to beat him, getting within a few hundredths on the first runs before setting a new track record securing pole position.
However, Hamilton looked to be on the back foot after losing control of his W11 in the second stage of qualifying but bounced back when it mattered most with two record-breaking laps in Q3. His final run put him three tenths ahead securing his ninety-first pole position.
Mercedes have been unbeatable at Silverstone for the past seven seasons, securing pole position and victory. This makes the German manufacturer the first team to take eight consecutive poles at the same venue. Hamilton too is the first driver to take seven poles at his home Grand Prix.
Verstappen admitted he could not get anywhere near the “way too fast” two Black Arrows as their pace was clear, the Red Bull was a second behind Hamilton. It was always expected the Mercedes would be the leading team, but the size of the gap underlines the advantage they have.
Hamilton said, “Obviously we had that spin. Qualifying is a lot about confidence-building and man, I was already down and down in the first sector every lap.”
“I don’t know how, but I took some deep breaths and managed to compose myself. Q3 still wasn’t perfect but still a really clean lap, and the second one even better. It never gets old that’s for sure.”
Charles Leclerc was fourth fastest, the Ferrari driver was closer to the Red Bull, getting within a tenth of Verstappen. Teammate Sebastian Vettel’s difficult weekend continued he was only tenth fastest, the German over two seconds of the pace of Hamilton.
He also has the disadvantage compared to Leclerc of starting with the more brittle soft tyres for the first stint of Sunday’s race.
McLaren’s Lando Norris will start his home Grand Prix from fifth, he was six thousandths faster than the Racing Point of Lance Stroll. Stroll splits the two McLaren’s ahead of his de-facto home race, in his first qualifying of the season, Nico Hulkenberg could only go thirteenth fastest.
Pierre Gasly was eleventh fastest ahead of the second Red Bull of Alex Albon. The build-up to his home race was difficult, he crashed in FP2 on Friday and then problems with the car in final practice limited his running further.
Gasly set an identical time to Stroll, 26.501, in the final seconds of Q2, but because the Racing Point’s time came from his first run on the medium tyres before the red flag the Alpha Tauri ended up eleventh. It is the pole sitter who caused the red flag in the closing moments of that session.
Hamilton making a rare mistake, losing the rear of the Mercedes and spun through Luffield right-hander, and his spin caught the gravel and brought stones onto the circuit. That brought out the red flag.
Daniil Kvyat was fourteenth ahead of George Russell, who made it through to Q2 once again. However, Russell will start his home Grand Prix from last, after the stewards decided that he didn’t slow for double waved yellow flags when team-mate Nicholas Latifi spun at the end of Q1.
Russell believed he “definitely backed off” and was “well in control” when the yellow flags were shown, but nevertheless set his fastest time of the session on the lap.
Kevin Magnussen missed out on Q2 by three-tenths starting sixteenth he starts ahead of the two Alfa Romeos and teammate Romain Grosjean. Lafiti failed to improve on his final lap, he was almost a second off Russell.