Lewis Hamilton produced one of the finest single laps of his glorious Formula 1 career to claim pole position for the British Grand Prix.
The Englishman was pushed all the way by the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen, and edged out the duo by less than one-tenth of a second in an action-packed qualifying session at Silverstone.
The Mercedes driver, seeking his fifth British Grand Prix win in a row and the sixth of his career, was inspired by the support of a bumper crowd who came to cheer on the four-time World Champion. He didn’t disappoint, and in one of the most intense qualifying sessions of his career, he basked under hot conditions to win the adulation of his fans once more.
His pole-winning lap, a 1:25.892, broke the 5.891-kilometre circuit’s previous lap record and was enough to outpace Vettel’s best by just 0.044 seconds after the Ferrari driver provisionally held pole by an equally tight margin at the end of their first Q3 runs.
Full credit should also go to Räikkönen, who came within a whisker of claiming pole position with his own rapid final lap; the Finn fell short by just nine-hundredths of a second and will start from the second row of the grid alongside Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas.
The sheer competitiveness of the battle for pole position proved a welcome surprise, with many insiders predicting Mercedes would cakewalk this weekend’s Grand Prix to atone for an embarrassing double-DNF at the preceding round in Austria. Given the Silver Arrows had the edge on pace at Spain and France – two circuits with similar high-speed, long load-bearing corners to Silverstone – it was not expected that Ferrari would pose such a challenge.
The two championship challengers, separated by just one point in the Drivers’ Championship standings, will do battle from the front row but neither driver will be taking anything for granted.
After winning their home event last weekend, Red Bull Racing was always going to struggle to be in touch with Mercedes and Ferrari on such a horsepower-critical circuit. The Milton Keynes squad’s cars locked out the third row of the grid, with Max Verstappen outpacing teammate Daniel Ricciardo after the Australian’s DRS refused to activate on both of his Q3 laps.
The Haas team claimed ‘best of the rest’ honours once again, with Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean securing seventh and eighth on the grid. The result was all the more impressive for Grosjean given the Frenchman had to sit out the whole of FP2 on Friday afternoon following a heavy crash in the first practice session.
Charles Leclerc was once again superb for Sauber, qualifying ninth ahead of Force India’s Esteban Ocon.
The factory Renault team disappointed, with neither Nico Hülkenberg nor Carlos Sainz Jr. able to make it into Q3 – the latter failed to break out of Q1 for the first time this season and could only manage 16th-fastest.
The second Force India of Sergio Pérez, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, and the second Sauber of Marcus Ericsson rounded out the Q2 runners who were eliminated.
The grid’s British icon teams, McLaren and Williams, both fared terribly at their home event.
McLaren, enduring their least successful period in their illustrious history, found their Renault-powered MCL33 cars consigned towards the rear of the field once again. Fernando Alonso at least made it into Q2, but teammate Stoffel Vandoorne couldn’t match the Spaniard and was a lowly 17th-fastest.
Williams fared even worse as its chassis’ design flaws were laid bare for all to see. Lance Stroll slid into the gravel at Brooklands when his car had a tank-slapper under braking, ending the Canadian youngster’s session and bringing out a brief red flag during Q1. Barely minutes after the action resumed, teammate Sergey Sirotkin looped his car at Stowe but was able to extract himself from the kitty litter.
The pair will start ahead of Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley on account of the New Zealander being a non-participant in the session following his heavy accident in final practice.
Sunday’s 52-lap British Formula 1 Grand Prix starts at 14:10 local time (GMT +1).
|FORMULA 1 2018 ROLEX BRITISH GRAND PRIX – QUALIFYING RESULTS|
|Q3 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap|
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09||1:25.892|
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF71H||1:25.936||+ 0.044|
|3.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF71H||1:25.990||+ 0.098|
|4.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09||1:26.217||+ 0.325|
|5.||Max Verstappen||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14||1:26.602||+ 0.710|
|6.||Daniel Ricciardo||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14||1:27.099||+ 1.207|
|7.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18||1:27.244||+ 1.352|
|8.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18||1:27.455||+ 1.563|
|9.||Charles Leclerc||Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37||1:27.879||+ 1.987|
|10.||Esteban Ocon||Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11||1:28.194||+ 2.302|
|Q2 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap**|
|11.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault Sport F1 Team RS18||1:27.901||+ 1.645|
|12.||Sergio Pérez||Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11||1:27.928||+ 1.672|
|13.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33||1:28.139||+ 1.883|
|14.||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13||1:28.343||+ 2.087|
|15.||Marcus Ericsson||Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37||1:28.391||+ 2.135|
|Q1 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap*|
|16.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Renault Sport F1 Team RS18||1:28.456||+ 1.871|
|17.||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33||1:29.096||+ 2.511|
|18.||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41||1:29.252||+ 2.667|
|Outside 107%||Team / Entry||Time||Gap*|
|DNQ.||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41||no time|
|DNQ.||Brendon Hartley||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13||no time|
* Denotes gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:26.585 posted by Sebastian Vettel
** Denotes gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:26.256 posted by Lewis Hamilton
- Lance Stroll failed to post a lap time within 107% of the fastest Q1 lap time and will race at the discretion of the FIA Stewards.
- Brendon Hartley did not participate in qualifying and will race at the discretion of the FIA Stewards.
Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas