Hamilton impresses to take British GP pole position

By on
F1 Grand Prix, GP United Kingdom, Silverstone Circuitgb

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.

At the start of Q3, Bottas was the first to head out, ahead of Ocon, Hamilton and Perez. Raikkonen and Vettel came out on track around 30 seconds later.

The first flying laps saw Hamilton go fastest, 2 tenths faster than Vettel, and another two tenths faster than Bottas and Raikkonen. Max Verstappen ended up 5th, already a second down on the pace setter.

That very pace setter was the caused for some annoyance at Grosjean, who was held up on his flying lap as Hamilton was rolling back to the pits. Grosjean angrily suggested over the radio that Mercedes should get a better GPS system - to track where each car is on the circuit.

It was announced seconds later that the incident would be subject to an investigation by the stewards. Grosjean's engineer confirmed that it cost the Frenchman 0.3 seconds. One hour after qualifying, Hamilton was eventually cleared, with the stewards noting: "While Grosjean potentially may have been affected by presence of Hamilton, he was not impeded".

As Bottas locked up badly at the first braking zone on his secound run, Kimi Raikkonen appeared to find quite a bit of pace, jumping to the top of the timesheet. Lewis Hamilton was later the only one who could improve on that, but he did so by a comfortable 0.5s.

This sealed Hamilton's pole position, who is set to start the British Grand Prix ahead of Raikkonen and Vettel. The latter ran used super softs on his final run, and were therefore unable to make any improvement in the last outing. Bottas ended 4th, but will have to start the race from 9th following a 5-place grid penalty.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarQ1Q2Q3Laps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:39.0691:27.8931:26.60025
27Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:40.4551:28.9921:27.14726
35Sebastian VettelFerrari1:39.9621:28.9781:27.35624
477Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:39.6981:28.7321:27.37626
533Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:38.9121:29.4311:28.13023
627Nico HulkenbergRenault1:39.2011:29.3401:28.85621
711Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes1:42.0091:29.8241:28.90226
831Esteban OconForce India Mercedes1:39.7381:29.7011:29.07425
92Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Honda1:40.0111:30.1051:29.41824
108Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:42.0421:29.9661:29.54926
1130Jolyon PalmerRenault1:41.4041:30.193-18
1226Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1:41.7261:30.355-20
1314Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Honda1:37.5981:30.600-17
1455Carlos SainzToro Rosso1:41.1141:31.368-15
1519Felipe MassaWilliams Mercedes1:41.8741:31.482-21
1618Lance StrollWilliams Mercedes1:42.573--11
1720Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:42.577--11
1894Pascal WehrleinSauber Ferrari1:42.593--10
199Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari1:42.633--10
203Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:42.966--4