Nico Rosberg has shown himself to be a master of Silverstone’s changeable weather conditions to claim a last-gasp pole position in an extraordinary British Grand Prix qualifying session.

Key to the German’s success was a perfectly-timed final lap and catching the track positions at their best in the last seconds of the session, while teammate Lewis Hamilton threw away hit shot at pole position by aborting his final lap. Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button completed the top-three, while both Ferraris and Williams runners were knocked out in Q1.

Hamilton held the advantages in the early stages of Q3 by putting in a solid lap as the track showed signs of drying after intermittent showers had hit the circuit. But further light rain in the final sector of the lap looked set to keep Hamilton in pole position, but it eased just as the majority of drivers embarked on their final ‘win or bust’ final lap.

Force India driver Nico Hülkenberg moved into provisional pole position, only to be usurped as Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg popped in quicker times.

Kevin Magnussen capped off a brilliant qualifying session for McLaren by putting the sister MP4-29 in fifth place, while Hamilton tumbled to sixth after aborting his final lap having clearly felt his first lap would be good enough to give him pole. Call it arrogance or just a misguided decision, it was ultimately foolhardy.

Despite expressinve concerns that the VJM07s were not well hooked up around the high-speed sweeps of Silverstone, Sergio Pérez ensured Force India had its two cars in the final session and qualified seventh-quickest.

Daniel Ricciardo and the Toro Rossos of Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Éric Vergne completed the top ten, although all three didn’t head onto the track in the dying minutes when track conditions ultimately proved to be their best.

Another surprise performer in qualifying was the Marussia F1 Team, who had Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton qualify career-best 12th and 13th behind Lotus’ Romain Grosjean. Chilton will, however, cede five grid places for an unscheduled gearbox change.

Conversely, the slippery conditions in Q1 and Q2 caught out Sauber, who had both of its drivers spin off despite making the Q2 cut. Sutil wasn’t able to take part in Q2 as his C33 beached itself at the end of Q1, while Esteban Gutiérrez  lost control of his car in the final minutes of Q2 with a tankslapper into the barriers at Luffield.

Pastor Maldonado was the slowest of the Q2 runners after his Lotus suffered a loss of fuel pressure, forcing him to park his hobbled car.

Qualifying was an absolute disaster for Caterham, Williams and Ferrari, all three of whom took no further part in proceedings after the end of Q1. The Caterham pairing of Marcus Ericsson and Kamui Kobayashi gambled too early on a switch to dry-weather tyres in Q1 and ultimately paid the price with a number of spins. Neither driver posted their fastest lap times within 107% of the fastest session time, meaning they will need the discretion of the FIA stewards to be allowed to take part on Sunday.

Williams and Ferrari also found themselves caught out by the conditions and failed to make the Q2 cut. After locking out the front row a fortnight before in Austria, Williams’ home event proved to be an embarrassment of riches as Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa qualified just 16th and 17th-fastest time time around.

At least their plight was better than Ferrari’s whose miserable 2014 season plummeted to new depths. Fernando Alonso spun on his final flying lap and was 18th-fastest; teammate Kimi Räikkönen was one spot further back.

Sunday’s 52-lap race gets underway at 1:00pm local time (UTC +1).

2014 British Formula 1 Grand Prix – Qualifying Results:

Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05 1:35.766 26
2. Sebastian Vettel Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10 1:37.386 + 1.620 25
3. Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes MP4-29 1:38.200 + 2.434 20
4. Nico Hülkenberg Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07 1:38.329 + 2.563 20
5. Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes MP4-29 1:38.417 + 2.651 25
6. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05 1:39.232 + 3.466 27
7. Sergio Pérez Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07 1:40.457 + 4.691 26
8. Daniel Ricciardo Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10 1:40.606 + 4.840 22
9. Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9 1:40.707 + 4.941 23
10. Jean-Éric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9 1:40.855 + 5.085 26
Q3 Cut-Off: 1:38.166 Time Gap* Laps
11. Romain Grosjean Lotus F1 Team Renault E22 1:38.496 + 3.626 17
12. Jules Bianchi Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03 1:38.709 + 3.839 17
13. Max Chilton^ Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03 1:39.800 + 4.930 14
14. Esteban Gutiérrez^ Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33 1:40.912 + 6.042 16
15. Pastor Maldonado Lotus F1 Team Renault E22 1:44.018 + 9.148 15
16. Adrian Sutil Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33 no time 8
Q2 Cut-Off: 1:45.086 Time Gap** Laps
17. Valtteri Bottas Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36 1:45.318 + 4.286 5
18. Felipe Massa Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36 1:45.695 + 4.663 5
19. Fernando Alonso Scuderia Ferrari F14T 1:45.935 + 4.903 6
20. Kimi Räikkönen Scuderia Ferrari F14T 1:46.684 + 5.652 7
Outside 107%
DNQ. Marcus Ericsson Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05 1:49.421 + 8.389 7
DNQ. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05 1:49.625 + 8.593 6

* Gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:34.870 by Lewis Hamilton

** Gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:41.032 by Daniil Kvyat

^ Chilton receives a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change. Gutiérrez takes ten-place grid penalty stemming from his unsafe pit release during the Austrian Grand Prix.

Image via XPB Images

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.