Lewis Hamilton has taken pole position for his home race, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The Mercedes driver beat both Ferraris, with Kimi Raikkonen set to start alongside him on the front row of the grid. Valtteri Bottas was fourth fastest, but will have to start from 9th due to a gearbox change penalty.
Qualifying kicked off under rainy conditions, but as light as the rain may have been, those who ventured out on slicks soon reported it was too slippery to continue. As such, all of them returned to the pits after a single lap to switch to intermediate tyres.
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen had immediately chosen inters, and were queuing at the end of the pitlane even before the start of the session, trying to be ahead of some heavier rain that was predicted. It arrived, but 5 minutes later, Mercedes told its drivers that the rain would stop soon, with the track drying up towards the end of Q1.
After 9 minutes, Daniel Ricciardo topped the times, ahead of Hulkenberg, Hamilton, Verstappen and Vettel, only to come to a halt at Woodcote, reporting "I've got a problem. I think it's the turbo... ok, it's gone". His stoppage caused a two-minute red flag.
The session got underway again with 10 minutes left on the clock, triggering all but Hulkenberg, Alonso and Verstappen.
As times tumbled rapidly, and drivers reported their intermediates to struggle, Fernando Alonso opted to pit after a single discovery lap on intermediates and go for slicks for a single penultimate attempt. A worthy attempt, as the Spaniard was set to start from the back of the grid anyway due to a 30-place grid penalty for taking new power unit elements.
Ocon switched to super soft half a lap earlier and ended up 5th fastest in that session, even though that was with the right rear brakes on fire. Alonso crossed the line just in time, was the last man on track and ended up fastest of all, a few seconds before that and ended up 5th fastest. That resulted in a calm "good job guys" from Alonso to his team, joined by a cheer of the crowd as the Spaniard made for an unexpected top spot.
As Alonso and Ocon proved it was high time for slicks, nobody opted for the inters at the start of Q2. Verstappen, Bottas and Kvyat were among the first to go out, with Bottas interestingly opting for the soft tyre, rather than the super softs. Alonso soon joined the party as well, and again went faster than all 6 times that were set thus far.
Lewis Hamilton on the other hand ran used super softs on his first run, along with Ocon who kept his tyres from Q1.
At the halfway point, Bottas topped the times, requiring three hot laps to get his soft tyres into the perfect temperature window. Hamilton returned that favour 20 seconds later by going faster still, half a second up on his team mate. Next up were Vettel, Hulkenberg, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Ocon and Vandoorne. Daniil Kvyat was 9th fastest and Alonso 10th.
5 minutes from the end, Sainz ventured out for his first run of the session, while others followed soon after to exploit the ever improving track conditions.
All top drivers ended up setting their best time in the final minutes of the session, with Hamilton going fastest on a new set of super softs, 8 tenths faster than his team mate who used new softs. Vettel and Raikkonen were third and fourth on super soft as well, followed by Hulkenberg, Verstappen, Ocon and Perez. Grosjean and Vandoorne completed the top 10.
Alonso missed out and ended up 13th, followed by a "yeah, sorry about that traffic, it was chaotic" from his race engineer. It meant however that Alonso was outqualified by Vandoorne, and the first time the Spaniard was outqualified by a team mate at Silverstone since 2007.
Sainz blamed 14th due to a suspension issue while Massa was pointing at traffic for failing to do any better.