World champion spun in Q2 but bounced back for seventh Silverstone pole as Mercedes dominate; Lando Norris fifth for McLaren, while George Russell makes Q2 again for Williams
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 01/08/20 4:15pm
Lewis Hamilton brilliantly recovered from a spin to demolish Silverstone’s lap record and claim pole position for his home British Grand Prix.
Hamilton had appeared on the back foot after losing control of his W11 in the second stage of qualifying but bounced back when it mattered most with two record-breaking laps in Q3 that would have been enough to beat Valtteri Bottas.
His final effort – 1:24.303 – secured his 91st career pole by three tenths of a second from his team-mate as Mercedes dominantly locked out the front row.
Max Verstappen finished third in all three sessions but admitted the Mercs were “way too fast” for Red Bull to keep pace with them in Q3 after lapping a distant one second adrift of Hamilton’s pole time.
“He did two laps that were good enough for pole position,” said Sky F1’s Martin Brundle. “Stunning, stunning laps from Lewis Hamilton.”
Charles Leclerc secured Ferrari’s first second-row start of the season with an improved showing from the SF1000 – at least in his hands – to get within a tenth of the lead Red Bull.
But team-mate Sebastian Vettel’s struggle from practice continued on into qualifying, with the four-time champion only 10th. He also has the disadvantage compared to Leclerc of starting with the more brittle soft tyres for the first stint of Sunday’s race.
Nico Hulkenberg, drafted in to replace Sergio Perez at the 11th-hour on Thursday after the Mexican’s positive COVID-19 test, had run in the top 10 throughout practice but dropped out here in Q2 on his F1 qualifying return.
There was also second-stage disappointment for Alex Albon, who missed out on Q3 for the second successive event.
The Red Bull driver, who qualified 12th, experienced a disrupted build-up to qualifying after a crash on Friday and then car problems in final practice.
Williams’ George Russell, meanwhile, continued his starring role on Saturdays by making Q2 for the third consecutive event. The Briton qualified 15th, although was placed under investigation for allegedly not slowing for yellow flags when team-mate Nicholas Latifi spun at the end of Q1.
British GP Qualifying: Top 10
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
3. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
4. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
5. Lando Norris, McLaren
6. Lance Stroll, Racing Point
7. Carlos Sainz, McLaren
8. Daniel Ricciardo, Renault
9. Esteban Ocon, Renault
10. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
Spinning in Qualifying? No problem for record-breaking Hamilton
Mistakes at any stage of grands prix weekends have become a rarity for F1’s six-time champion – particularly in qualifying or a race – so it was a shock to see Hamilton’s car briefly facing the wrong way at the start of Q2.
The Briton lost the back end of the W11 as he rounded the sweeping Luffield right-hander, and his right-hand wheels caught the gravel and brought stones onto the circuit.
Officials threw the red flag to clear the circuit of debris.
By then, Bottas, who had already outpaced Hamilton in Q1, had broken Silverstone’s track record with his first Q2 effort. When the session resumed, and with no damage to his car, Hamilton took a new set of medium tyres and comfortably went second fastest – but still 0.332s adrift of the sister Mercedes.
But there were no mistakes from the world championship leader with either of his dominant laps in Q3.
“Obviously we had that spin. Qualifying is a lot about confidence building and man, I was already down and down in the first sector every lap,” said Hamilton. “I don’t know how, but I took some deep breaths and managed to compose myself. Q3 still wasn’t perfect but still a really clean lap, and the second one even better. It never gets old that’s for sure.”
Bottas, who trails Hamilton by five points in the championship, said: “It was a pretty good qualifying up until Q3. I was waiting to get everything right but then I started to drift a little bit with the rear end in Q3. We need to look into it.”
Undefeated in Silverstone qualifying since 2013, Mercedes have now become the first team to take eight consecutive poles at the same venue. Hamilton too is the first driver to take seven poles at his home Grand Prix.
British GP Qualifying Timesheet
|1) Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1:24.303|
|2) Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+0.313|
|3) Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+1.022|
|4) Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+1.124|
|5) Lando Norris||McLaren||+1.479|
|6) Lance Stroll||Racing Point||+1.536|
|7) Carlos Sainz||McLaren||+1.662|
|8) Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||+1.706|
|9) Esteban Ocon||Renault||+1.906|
|10) Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+2.036|
|Knocked out in Q2|
|11) Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||1:26.501|
|12) Alexander Albon||Red Bull||1:26.545|
|13) Nico Hulkenberg||Racing Point||1:26.566|
|14) Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri||1:26.744|
|15) George Russell||Williams||1:27.092|
|Knocked out in Q1|
|16) Kevin Magnussen||Haas||1:27.158|
|17) Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1:27.164|
|18) Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||1:27.366|
|19) Romain Grosjean||Haas||1:27.643|
|20) Nicholas Latifi||Williams||1:27.705|