Bright, windy conditions dominated proceedings at Silverstone, but that doesn’t mean that everyone enjoyed their moment in the sun in Saturday afternoon’s action-packed qualifying session.
Chandni Patel rates Saturday’s winners and losers ahead of today’s all-important 52-lap race…
Saturday’s ultimate winner was, of course, Lewis Hamilton, who took his 46th career pole position in front of a delighted home crowd. The Englishman kept his nerves with a super tidy performance in Q3, although he did flat-spot the tyre set he will start Sunday’s race on, meaning a smooth run to victory is far from assured…
There were plenty of other star performers, including Williams duo Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, who showed dramatically improved pace on Saturday to lock out the second row of the grid. By qualifying ahead of the Ferraris, the FW37s look set to continue the form that has seen them claim podium finishes in each of the last two races.
After a disastrous weekend on home soil two weeks’ ago in Austria where the team’s struggles prompted renewed threats it would exit the sport, Red Bull Racing had a better than expected qualifying session. Daniil Kvyat stood out with the seventh-fastest time on a circuit not expected to favour the deficiencies of the Renault power unit, while teammate Daniel Ricciardo was less lucky, having his fastest time deleted for running wide at Copse.
After a number of tough outings of late, Kimi Räikkönen put his Ferrari inside the top-five on the grid and he was able to outqualify Sebastian Vettel for just the second time this season.
After dominating proceedings in Friday practice and looking a sure-fire bet to claim pole position, Nico Rosberg‘s Saturday was an anticlimax. The German’s FP3 performance was scuppered thanks to a gearbox oil leak, and in qualifying he was just unable to quite string the lap together and lost out to teammate Hamilton by just over a tenth of a second. Still, there’s all to play for in the race, with the points’ gap to Hamilton now sitting at just 10 points.
After boasting that his Scuderia Toro Rosso STR10 was the second-fastest car in the field at Silverstone, Max Verstappen had high hopes of a giant-killing performance in qualifying. But the Dutch youngster was completely unprepared for a change in wind direction between FP3 and qualifying, making his car a complete handful to the point that he was knocked out of the running in Q2. Teammate Carlos Sainz Jr quietly upstaged him by slipping into Q3 and will start from eighth place.
Force India showed improved pace with its B-spec VJM08, boasting a revolutionary aero package. While Nico Hülkenberg ran inside the top-ten all weekend, the same could not be said for Sergio Pérez, who has been roughly a second off the German in almost every session. The Mexican didn’t have a realistic hope of making Q3, and compounded his woes by having his fastest lap time deleted for running wide at Copse – he starts Sunday’s race from eleventh place.
Despite netting point-scoring finishes in the last two races with some aggressive drives, Pastor Maldonado proved once again that there is a fine line between being extra-talented and plain old exuberance. The latter was on display in an untidy qualifying performance, where he had his fastest two times deleted for violating the track limits – unable to pull another competitive lap time out of his E23 Hybrid, he will start from fourteenth place.
Image via Scuderia Toro Rosso
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