Hamilton breaks Silverstone lap record and beats Bottas to pole by 0.3s
Every driver put forth a valiant effort in Saturday’s qualifying, but it was home hero Lewis Hamilton who prevailed - again.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton claimed his seventh Silverstone - and home Grand Prix - pole position, whilst also breaking the circuit’s lap record and putting himself at the front of the grid for the 91st time.
“Valtteri was pushing me right to the end. It was a real struggle out there. We had that spin, and I was struggling through the first section, but I managed to compose myself. The first Q3 lap was clean and the second was even better.”
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Brit during Q3, who spun on the exit of Luffield (Turn 7), rendering his set of Medium set of tyres useless and temporarily red flagging the session.
Photo credit: Mercedes
Teammate Valtteri Bottas, who was on pole at the British Grand Prix last year by a mere 0.006s, missed out on pole but still managed to put his W11 on the front row of the grid alongside Lewis Hamilton. The Finn held the previous lap record for Silverstone (1:25.093), which both Hamilton and himself smahed through, setting a 1:24.303 and 1:24.616 respectively.
Bottas was feeling confident that he could take pole position this year, until he reached Q3. “It was a pretty good qualifying until Q3, when I started to drift a bit with the rear end. Lewis found a bit more than me and he deserved the pole. He managed to win form P2 last year, so hopefully I will get opportunities tomorrow,” said Bottas in the post-qualifying interview.
Red Bull on the back foot
It was never a given - or a likelihood - that Red Bull would put themselves on pole position, but it was certainly a shock when Max Verstappen crossed the line 1.3s behind both Silver Arrows, and even more so when Alex Albon was eliminated from Q2 in P12.
Photo credit: Red Bull
Both drivers have been more confident in the RB16 this weekend, but the car is still struggling with its front end; no matter how much work the Red Bull crew put into it, Verstappen and Albon still struggle with understeer and a lack of front grip.
“Mercedes was just way too fast. You try to do the best you can and that’s P3. You have a fighting chance [in the race] starting third,” said Verstappen following Q3.
Racing Point missing out
It was disappointment in qualifying for Racing Point, who had looked set to be favorites for a second or third row start in Sunday’s race. Lance Stroll was showing signs of promise in Q3, sitting in P2 at one point. Unfortunately for the Canadian, in the closing stages of the session when the top teams pulled out all the stops, he was demoted to P6 and was unable to improve on that time.
Photo credit: Racing Point
Nico Hulkenberg experienced his own disappointment in Q2, having briefly placed his loaner RP20 on provisional pole, ahead of Alex Albon in P2. From then onwards, the German was steadily shunted down the field, until he concluded the session in P13, consequently being eliminated from qualifying.
Despite their disappointing Saturday, Racing Point have now been granted the opportunity to showcase their “Pink Mercedes” in Sunday’s race, hopefully clawing back positions and points for a memorable home Grand Prix.
Mixed grid for Sunday
Sunday’s grid is now confirmed, with McLarens, Ferraris, Renaults and Racing Points scattered throughout the top ten, and Mercedes tauntingly in the lead; this year’s British Grand Prix will certainly be an entertaining one, hopefully providing engaging battles, last-minute strategy calls and a varied podium.