Lewis Hamilton has delighted his local fans by claiming a dominant pole position for Sunday’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The Mercedes driver beat teammate Nico Rosberg to top spot by a full 0.4 seconds.
The Red Bull Racing duo of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber ideally position to capitalise after the pair locked out the second row of the grid for tomorrow’s 52-lap race, which few believe that Mercedes is capable of winning.
With Mercedes having shown frontrunning pace in the other dry-weather practice sessions this weekend, it seemed clear that the Silver Arrows would again be a force to be reckoned with when it came to outright one-lap pace.
Hamilton was comfortably fastest in the opening phase of qualifying, and after easily making it into Q3, he posted a 1:30.096, good enough to claim provisional pole position until Rosberg took the position away on his second Q3 run. But Hamilton quickly responded, closing out his final flying lap with a brilliant sub-1m30s effort to claim top spot.
The Red Bulls locked out the second row of the grid, with Vettel beating defending racewinner Webber by a scant nine-thousandths of a second to ensure he would start from the all-important cleaner side of the grid for Sunday’s race.
Paul di Resta delivered an outstanding fifth-fastest effort in his home event in the Force India VJM06. The Scot was delighted with the result, but his joy was short-lived when his car was found to be 1.5kg underweight, ensuring he will start the race from the back of the grid. Teammate Adrian Sutil will be left carrying the hopes of the team, starting from sixth place, one spot up from his seventh-placed starting position.
That demotion was even better news for Daniel Ricciardo, who is undoubtedly having the best Grand Prix of his career. Having run comfortably inside the top-half of the timesheets all weekend, the young Australian qualified a career-best sixth-fastest in the Toro Rosso, which now becomes fifth courtesy of de Resta’s grid penalty.
With teammate Jean-Eric Vergne narrowly missing out on a Q3 berth, the result is an outstanding effort for the Faenza team, whose STR8 challenger is clearly well-hooked up around the Silverstone sweeps.
Toro Rosso’s joys came at the expense of Lotus and Ferrari, who had poor qualifying sessions by their usual standards. Running Lotus’ new passive DRS system for the first time, Romain Grosjean was only eighth-fastest, one spot ahead of teammate Kimi Räikkönen, who opted not to run the system and finished just seven-thousandths of a second slower.
The Ferraris looked particularly evil in their handling around the Silverstone circuit, with both Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa using plenty of opposite lock as they battled snap oversteer that has plagued the F138 all weekend. Alonso was the slowest of the Q3 runners, while Massa was two spots back, having been knocked out in Q2.
Jenson Button was another driver to fall – as expected – at the second hurdle, although the Brit even managed to surprise himself, only failing to miss the Q3 cut by less than one-tenth of a second in the ill-handling McLaren. His teammate Sergio Pérez qualified fourteenth-quickest.
Williams and Sauber were – on the basis of Toro Rosso’s outstanding competitiveness this weekend – always at risk of being bundled out in Q1, and so it proved to be, with the teams’ respective rookie drivers, Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Gutiérrez, once again failing to fulfill the hype and being consigned to an early exit.
Their teammates fared little better. While both Nico Hülkenberg and Pastor Maldonado just managed to squeeze into Q2, neither managed to do much better and will start from fifteenth and sixteenth, respectively.
It was another tight battle for tail-end honours between the Caterham and Marussia teams, although this time it was Charles Pic who led the four-car charge, comfortably outpacing teammate Giedo van der Garde, who was sandwiched on the timesheets by the Marussia pairing of Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton.
2013 British Formula 1 Grand Prix – Qualifying Session Times:
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:29.607|
|2.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:30.059||+ 0.452|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:30.211||+ 0.604|
|4.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:30.220||+ 0.613|
|5.||Paul di Resta^||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:30.736||+ 1.129|
|6.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:30.757||+ 1.150|
|7.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:30.908||+ 1.301|
|8.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:30.955||+ 1.348|
|9.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:30.962||+ 1.355|
|10.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:30.979||+ 1.372|
|Q3 Cut-Off – 131.592||Time||Gap*|
|11.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:31.649||+ 0.659|
|12.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:31.779||+ 0.789|
|13.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:31.785||+ 0.795|
|14.||Sergio Pérez||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:32.082||+ 1.092|
|15.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:32.211||+ 1.221|
|16.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW35||1:32.359||+ 1.369|
|Q2 Cut-Off – 1:32.512||Time||Gap**|
|17.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW35||1:32.664||+ 1.669|
|18.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:32.666||+ 1.671|
|19.||Charles Pic||Caterham Renault CT03||1:33.866||+ 2.871|
|20.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02||1:34.108||+ 3.113|
|22.||Giedo van der Garde^||Caterham Renault CT03||1:35.481||+ 4.486|
|22.||Max Chilton||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02||1:35.858||+ 4.863|
* Gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:30.990 by Sebastian Vettel
** Gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:30.995 by Lewis Hamilton
^ Di Resta will be forced to start from the rear of the grid after his car failed a post-qualifying technical inspection. Van der Garde will incur a ten-place grid penalty for causing a collision during the Canadian GP.