Lewis Hamilton delivered a superb final lap in qualifying at Silverstone to eclipse team-mate Nico Rosberg by four tenths of a second and claim his second career British Grand Prix pole position.
Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, took third place, ahead of team-mate Mark Webber at the end of a session that had always been a battle between the Anglo-Austrian and Anglo-German teams.
“It’s incredible, it feels just like it did in 2007,” said Hamilton, referring to the Silverstone pole of his debut F1 season. “Just to see the crowd here today is fantastic, such a great turn out and that was a lap for them. Hopefully tomorrow we can do something special for them. I haven’t been feeling 100 per cent comfortable in the car all weekend, so I was really happy to get a lap.”
Rosberg admitted that he had had no answer to Hamilton’s pace. “It’s a big battle we have, and usually it’s very close – not today – Lewis did a great lap in the end,” he said. “It’s also a really, really big push, also for the whole team, that we’re pushing each other all the time, and that’s really good. We’re really lucky because we have a great atmosphere at the moment in the team, so it’s fantastic momentum that we have at the moment.”
The preliminaries were dealt with comfortably and the four main protagonists sailed through the first two segments without trouble. Using medium tyres, the Mercedes duo took the top slots in Q1, while Vettel and Webber eased into Q2 in fifth and sixth places respectively, both using hard tyres.
The quartet was similarly untroubled in the second 15-minutes session, though this time it was the Red Bull pairing that took the top spots, with Vettel in P1.
For some, though, things were trickier. In Q1 the usual suspects dropped out but in Q2 it was another difficult session for McLaren and for the second race in a row the team saw neither of its drivers make it through to the top-10 shootout. Sergio Perez qualified in 14th position and Jenson Button in 11th place. It was a poor session for Ferrari as well. Felipe Massa, who crashed in FP2 yesterday, couldn’t find the pace required and he’ll start the British Grand Prix from 12th on the grid.
It was a different story for Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian put together a superb final flying lap in the segment to slot into fifth spot, only the third time in his career that he’s made it into Q3.
He couldn’t quite match the position in the final session but will line up an impressive sixth on the grid tomorrow, his best starting position since the Bahrain GP of last year, where he also qualified sixth.
With the STR8 looking competitive he should have been joined in the final shoot-out by team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne but the Frenchman made a mistake in the second sector during his second run when he overran a kerb and clattered across the dirt. Vergne had time for a second shot at the top 10 but in the end the pace eluded him and he will start 13th tomorrow.
After Massa’s travails in Q2, in Q3 it was Fernando Alonso’s turn to suffer a slump and the Spaniard limped to 10th place, his worst qualifying position of the year and his worst Silverstone starting slot since 2009, his final year with Renault.
It wasn’t a good day for Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen either. The Finn, who will start ninth, was outqualified for the first time this year by team-mate Romain Grosjean, who will line up at the back of row four behind Force India’s Adrian Sutil. Paul Di Resta, meanwhile, had another positive Saturday, and the Scot will start from fifth on the grid.
British Grand Prix Qualifying Results
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:29.607
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:30.059
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:30.211