Lewis Hamilton has dominated qualifying for the British Grand Prix to claim his fifth pole position on home soil, finishing over half a second clear of Ferrari duo Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel.
The Englishman’s 67th pole position of his Formula 1 career – putting him one short of equalling the all-time record held by Michael Schumacher – was initially provisional, however, amid claims that he impeded Haas’ Romain Grosjean in the final phase of qualifying.
The Frenchman qualified tenth-fastest and claimed he lost three-tenths of a second being baulked by Hamilton at Club corner.
After a nervous one-hour wait, the stewards ruled that Hamilton had no case to answer.
“The stewards examined video and telemetry evidence and concluded that, while Grosjean may potentially have been affected by the presence of Hamilton at turn 16, he was not impeded,” is statement noted.
Grosjean, typically, was miffed at the decision and lashed out at the stewards for their supposed inconsistency and argued that neither he nor Hamilton had actually been summoned to state their cases.
“No, the stewards didn’t speak to me and, yes, that [ruling] is a surprise,” he fumed. “I was not even there [for a hearing]. Today I lost a position and there is nothing happening, it’s frustrating and it seems like there is a big inconsistency between the decisions.”
Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff delivered perhaps the most cutting summary: “There are some that moan all the time and just continue moaning. I don’t want to even comment if Romain Grosjean comes out and starts asking for penalties for other drivers. You’d rather look at his track record; he should be happy he is driving in Formula 1.”
“Look at [Grosjean’s] track record; he should be happy he is driving in Formula 1.”
Toto Wolff, Mercedes executive director
Despite the debate, the result ultimately stood. Like his dominant lap itself – its 0.547 second margin to second-placed Räikkönen being the largest of the season so far – it was a perfect reply after a week of heavy criticism for being the sole driver on the grid not to attend the F1 Live London event on Wednesday.
His fifth pole position on home soil matched the British Grand Prix record achieved by Jim Clark and Alain Prost, and should he go on to win on Sunday – a result he desperately needs to claw back the 20-point deficit to Vettel in their Drivers’ Championship fight – he will equal their race win records as well.
Hamilton’s teammate and last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix winner Valtteri Bottas initially split the Ferraris after his first Q3 run, but fell behind the after being unable to improve with an untidy second run. The Finn seemingly struggled to get his tyres warmed up on a greasy track surface and locked up through the Village to slip to fourth. He will start ninth thanks to a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change.
The start of qualifying saw the majority of the field out on Intermediate tyres thanks to a series of light rain showers that had persisted since the end of FP3. A few brave souls attempted a run on Super Soft tyres early on, but quickly retreated to the pits for the wet-weather rubber.
Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo set the early pace on the damp track, but the Australian’s hopes of a sixth consecutive podium finish went belly up – along with his turbo – as he ground to a halt before the old start/finish section. Having already copped a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, Ricciardo will likely take on further power unit elements given he tumbled down the order as conditions improved.
The session was briefly red-flagged so Ricciardo’s car could be pulled to a safer location, and that allowed track conditions to improve to the point that the final few minutes saw the timing screens light up as many drivers lowered the benchmark lap time.
In the end it was an enterprising Fernando Alonso who swapped to Super Soft rubber with two minutes to go who claimed top spot in Q1. The Spaniard put the hammer down on his out-lap and crossed the start/finish line with less than a second before the chequered flag was thrown; his lap was good enough for provisional top spot and earned raucous cheers from the huge crowd in attendance. McLaren was back on top, even if briefly.
Alonso’s flying lap bumped Williams’ Lance Stroll into the bottom five pile along with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, the two Saubers of Pascal Wehrlein and MArcus Ericsson, and the sidelined Ricciardo.
Track conditions improved enough that the second phase of qualifying was run on dry-weather tyres, with Bottas proving to be the sole exception by bolting on the more durable Soft rubber to post his fastest time. The move could prove decisive in Sunday’s race; knowing he has a grid penalty he has to try something different to recover the ground he will lose before the start.
Eliminated in this session was the second Williams of Felipe Massa, the two Toro Rossos of Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr (whose rear suspension failed) and the heroic Alonso.
Renault’s Jolyon Palmer missed out on making it into Q3 by a whisker and claimed the eleventh-fastest time in an improved showing from the Brit. That being said, he will still almost a second off the pace of teammate Nico Hülkenberg, who would qualify a superb sixth-fastest – the team’s best Saturday showing of the season so far.
With Max Verstappen putting his sole surviving Red Bull ahead in fifth, the balance of the top ten was completed by the two Force Indias of Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon, a stellar Stoffel Vandoorne in the McLaren-Honda and the upset Grosjean.
Sunday’s 52-lap British Grand Prix will begin at 13:00 local time (GMT +1).
|2017 FORMULA 1 ROLEX BRITISH GRAND PRIX – FINAL QUALIFYING RESULTS|
|Q3 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Tyre|
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||1:26.600|
|2.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||1:27.147||+ 0.547|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||1:27.356||+ 0.756|
|4.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||1:27.376||+ 0.776|
|5.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13||1:28.130||+ 1.530|
|6.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||1:28.856||+ 2.256|
|7.||Sergio Pérez||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||1:28.902||+ 2.302|
|8.||Esteban Ocon||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||1:29.074||+ 2.474|
|9.||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren-Honda MCL32||1:29.418||+ 2.818|
|10.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||1:29.549||+ 2.949|
|Q2 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap**||Tyre|
|11.||Jolyon Palmer||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||1:30.193||+ 2.300|
|12.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12||1:30.355||+ 2.462|
|13.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren-Honda MCL32||1:30.600||+ 2.707|
|14.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12||1:31.368||+ 3.475|
|15.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||1:31.482||+ 3.589|
|Q1 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap*||Tyre|
|16.||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||1:42.573||+ 4.975|
|17.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||1:42.577||+ 4.979|
|18.||Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||1:42.593||+ 4.995|
|19.||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||1:42.633||+ 5.035|
|20.||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13||1:42.966||+ 5.368|
* Denotes gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:37.598 posted by Fernando Alonso
** Denotes gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:27.893 posted by Lewis Hamilton
- Valtteri Bottas will take a five-place grid penalty for fitting a replacement gearbox before it had completed six successive Grands Prix of use.
- Daniel Ricciardo will take a five-place grid penalty for fitting a replacement gearbox before it had completed six successive Grands Prix of use.
- Fernando Alonso will take a 30-place grid penalty for fitting multiple power unit elements.
Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
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