The qualifying session for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix saw Mercedes lock out the front row for another occasion. The surprise was, however, the returning Nico Hülkenberg who propelled his Mercedes-inspired Racing Point to third place on the grid.
In 2020, the reigning world champion team Mercedes has established a new norm by usually qualifying a second faster than their nearest rival. The question is usually who can emerge as the faster driver from the duo of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton. This time it was the Nastola-born Finn who, applying the fresh energy from his contract extension, emerged fastest, going 63 thousands of a second faster than Lewis Hamilton to clinch his 13th career pole position.
"Pole today feels really good. It's a privilege to drive this amazing car - it's so quick. I love qualifying when it's like that, it was great fun. We made some tweaks to the set-up from last weekend and for me the performance was much better today. I knew I'd have an opportunity to improve on the second run in Q3 and I pulled the sectors together, I got absolutely everything out of myself and the car. A one-stopper will be difficult with the compounds we have this weekend - but I know the team will be looking at all the options for tomorrow. I think the race pace is there and I hope I can get another good start like last weekend. I'm in a good position for the race, but we all know that the points are given on Sundays."Lewis Hamilton
"Valtteri did a fantastic job today, he put in a very strong lap when it mattered in Q3 to take pole. My first lap in Q3 was good, but the second one wasn't really all that great. I just didn't pull it together, made a couple of mistakes right at the end and ultimately you pay for that. The change in wind direction made it a bit trickier out there today, but that was the same for everyone so no excuses. It's not easy to follow on this track, but I'm hoping that the softer tyres and hot temperatures will create some opportunities tomorrow - it should be exciting. We'll work hard tonight to see where we can improve and you know I will be giving it everything to try and beat Valtteri tomorrow."
"We tried a lot of things and I was happy with my laps, but I don't think that there was any more to get out of the car today. I need more grip to go faster. I must congratulate my engineers for improving the car compared to last weekend, but if you look at the stopwatch there is no difference. It seems we are stuck and of course it is disappointing to be in twelfth with that gap between our two cars. We are where we are for a reason, we are just not fast enough. It will be difficult tomorrow to fight for points but I will do my best."Charles Leclerc
"I am definitely happy with the job I’ve done today, I think we extracted the maximum from the car, but it was not enough, as we are starting from P8 and I cannot be happy with that.
"So far, we have been struggling more than last week and we will be struggling a bit more in the race because of our aggressive downforce level. It’s lower than everyone else’s and will make our life difficult in terms of tyre management. Since yesterday we’ve made good progress on the medium tyres that seemed very competitive today and on which we managed to get through to Q3, but as it stands, we seem to have lost something we had yesterday on the soft tyres.
"Considering the degradation we had on the softer compound, it’s going to be a difficult race for us, more so than last Sunday."
“Obviously not very happy with today. Seeing our rivals make a step forward into this weekend puts us in a trickier position when trying to get into Q3. We committed to a plan of going through with a medium and unfortunately, we didn’t manage to make the cut.
“We have a bit of a problem in my car this weekend and we had to change the bodywork before quali to help with the cooling. A less tight bodywork here in Silverstone costs us some lap time due to the increased drag, so yeah, a bit frustrated by that, but at the same time I still think we can fight tomorrow and we’ll definitely do our best to get back into the points.”Lando Norris
“Not a bad qualifying, to be honest. P10 maybe doesn’t sound great in terms of position, but I think this weekend we’re realistically a bit more in-position and we knew this wind wouldn’t play in our favour. I think the Renaults, with Daniel, were considerably quicker, showing that their car is very competitive, and both Racing Points are doing a good job of extracting performance – Albon too. I think we’re where we expected to be, so I’m not really disappointed. I don’t think there was much more in the car. There was a little, I think mainly because of the wind changing in the second run or into Q3, as I struggled a bit more with the car than in Q2.
“It wasn’t easy – the car’s not hooked up. It’s trickier to drive this weekend because of the wind conditions, but still not a bad position to be in for tomorrow.”
"I was pleased with that qualifying session and the lap felt good. It felt harder to drive than it did last week, the conditions are different, with new tyres and it is very windy here which makes it really tricky to drive. This week I had to give everything I had as it was very close, but I’m happy with the job. I think the mediums were the faster qualifying tyre today, which Romain used two sets of. We will have a new set to use tomorrow, so I think we are in a good position for the race."Nicholas Latifi
"I think we had a shot at getting into Q2, especially after FP3 we were looking strong and everything was feeling good. However, in qualifying the conditions were completely different and the car felt a little bit more unpredictable and a little bit more on edge. As a result, I just didn’t do a good enough lap, probably down to experience. When the car was not in the window I one hundred percent needed, I struggled to put the lap together. Overall, I am quite disappointed as I really did think that we had the potential today."
Red BullMax Verstappen
“Starting P4 is of course not perfect but the cars in front did a good job and Q3 was pretty tricky as the wind switched around and unbalanced us a bit. I felt strongly about using the hard tyre for the race start as we are already on softer compounds this weekend and the medium was last week’s soft, which wasn’t great in the race and with warmer temperatures this weekend I like this option. It was just a matter of making it through to Q3 on the hard tyre which we just about did. I don’t know what starting on the hard tyre tomorrow will give us and it depends on the first lap and Safety Cars but hopefully it will be positive and it is at least different to everyone else in the top ten. It is still a long race tomorrow and our race pace is normally more competitive, we just don’t have the qualifying mode that Mercedes do. I hope the start is going to be clean and from there onwards I think we can still have a good race. The goal is still to be on the podium. I am also happy for Nico that he has an opportunity to show his pace.”Alex Albon
“I was feeling comfortable and it was looking good up until the final run in Q3 when we went from mediums to softs and I experienced a very different car balance. I felt good with the car and I was optimistic going into the last lap but it just completely changed, maybe also with the wind, and I’m obviously not happy with P9. Some teams are able to get the soft tyre to work and we struggled with it today, so we need to understand why. I know there’s also time within myself and that’s just about getting more comfortable and consistent with the car. Tomorrow will be interesting as there are different strategy options available. Last weekend we showed we have a good race car and the pace to move forward no matter what, so the plan tomorrow is to get the most out of our race pace, make up positions and get the job done.”
“Nobody was unhappy about getting into Q2. Obviously, that’s our target in qualifying, short-term. Mid-term we’ve got to be seeing both cars in there. We don’t have any updates coming so we just need to optimise the package that we have. That’s something we’ve done very well on my car since last weekend, I feel like we’ve improved a lot.
"The feeling in the car has come to me in a much better way. I’m obviously very happy with that, but we’ve got a lot more work to do. With our tyre choices and so on, we’ve prioritised the race, so we should be okay.”
“It wasn’t quite enough all together this weekend. It’s been a terrible weekend for me so far. I don’t know what’s going on with the car – it’s just been way off what I was able to achieve last week and how it felt then as well. It’s very surprising and it’s very frustrating to suddenly be in this situation where the car isn’t delivering what we know it can. We have to try and get to the bottom of that. It’s lost a lot of stability and I’ve been getting a lot of surprising snaps, I’ve got no confidence in the car compared to last week when I was really able to lean on it – especially through the high-speed stuff, of which there’s a lot here. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
Alfa RomeoKimi Raikkonen
“It’s disappointing to be so far back when we gave everything we had, but it is what it is right now. We struggle in qualifying and getting a better or worse lap means the difference between P16 and P20, which is not that much of a change. I don’t think there’s a simple solution to our issues, nor there is much you can do in a week or two, or else we would have done it already: all we can do is go out tomorrow, try our best and see where we end up.”Antonio Giovinazzi
“It was a difficult day for us as we just missed something compared to our rivals. The conditions were tricky because of the wind, during my last lap I lost grip a couple of times and went a bit wide, but in the end it wouldn’t have made a difference in terms of making it to Q2. Tomorrow is another day and we will go out to try and make the best of this situation: we need a good strategy and we will push with all we have.”
“That was an amazing Saturday and I’m very happy about my qualifying result! Yesterday was a bit difficult for us, but the team did a fantastic job from Friday to Saturday and made the right changes overnight to give me a car that gives me the possibility to push to the maximum. It was great to be P4 in Q2 and to finish Q3 in P7, ahead of the two Ferraris, McLaren and a Red Bull, it was the best result we could have hoped for. Now we focus on tomorrow’s race, ready to get our elbows out and try to do the best I can to get a good result for the team.”Daniil Kvyat
“It was very unfortunate this afternoon as it was turning out to be a very good lap when a gust of wind put me off in Turn 15, it caused me to have a big snap and I lost a lot of time. Looking at the positives, normally we’re able to make up for a poor qualifying on Sunday, so we just need to keep pushing and I’m quite confident we can put together a decent race and fight for points.”
“I think fifth place is an awesome result for us and I’m very happy with that. I knew my lap was pretty good, I really was on the limit with the car and I got pretty much all I could from it today. I don’t have any regrets, or any feeling of a missed opportunity and we’ve put ourselves right up there for the race. We had the medium working really well and I’m happy with that. Tomorrow’s race will be interesting and there will be a mixture of strategies. We know we have a good race car, we just needed to qualify better to give ourselves an even better chance on a Sunday. I’ll do my best tomorrow and give it all I have.”Esteban Ocon
“It’s a disappointing session overall as I felt my lap in Q2 was pretty good. The gap to Daniel was clearly big in that session so we need to investigate why. It could be something we just didn’t understand entirely on the car after yesterday. The car felt very capable today with a bit more in hand. I just couldn’t carry the speed when I needed to. We also have the incident with George [Russell]. It was no one on track’s fault, but it’s something we should have managed better. Last week’s race was good, we had the pace, so hopefully that will be the case tomorrow.”
Racing PointNico Hulkenberg, 3rd, 1:26.082
“It's been a crazy week and after the highs and lows of my comeback last week, P3 on the grid for tomorrow is a nice highlight! Last week definitely helped me feel more prepared for this weekend, but qualifying was still a real challenge today. In Q2, I made life hard for myself a little bit and I thought I might have damaged the car. But once we got through to Q3, it was about getting my head down, giving it full beans, and giving my all for the lap time. I have a big smile on my face, but it's only Saturday and it's tomorrow that really matters. It's going to be a challenge, because I haven't been through the motions of a race start and going wheel-to-wheel for a while now, and I'm still learning the car. But I'll give everything I've got to make sure we get a strong result. We'll enjoy the qualifying result, but all focus is on the race now.”Lance Stroll, 6th, 1:26.428
“It's a great day for the team to get both cars into Q3 and Nico did an outstanding job to qualify in P3. He's been solid all weekend so far and the team's done a great job to get him comfortable and to have both cars showing pace. For myself, I didn't quite get it all together today. We were working on some things during qualifying and I wasn't quite able to find the right balance – I had a little instability at the rear of the car. I wasn't quite able to get a clean lap in either, which didn't help. It's small margins and it's a shame not to be starting higher up the grid, but it's a good starting point, and it's all to play for tomorrow. We know there are areas where we can make improvements, but Nico's shown just how much pace the car has, so that's a big positive. The strategy could play a key part in the race tomorrow, so we'll go away and make sure we're ready to maximise everything tomorrow for a strong result.”