Hamilton runs to record pole in home Grand Prix; Raikkonen takes P2 besting Vettel in P3
Lewis Hamilton got back in the good graces of his home fans after being the only driver to skip the London F1 Live fan fest earlier this week by setting a blistering record pole time at Silverstone in the UK on Saturday. The Mercedes ace bested his nearest pursuer, Ferrrai’s Kimi Raikkonen by half a second, setting the fastest ever F1 lap at Silverstone and capturing his 5th pole at this venerable airfield circuit, which ties the great Jim Clark for most British GP poles all-time. After his fourth place finish last weekend in Austria, where his ambitions for a win were hampered by grid penalties and poor qualifying, this P1 start in front of his countrymen has to be just the tonic Hamilton needs to improve his chances in the championship fight. He must also have breathed a huge sigh of relief for not getting sanctioned for potentially blocking Haas’ Romain Grosjean in Q3. So it’s all looking good for Lewis to get back to his winning ways come Sunday. And then it will really be all-is-forgiven with the disappointed English fans.
Raikkonen bested his usually superior teammate Sebastian Vettel for only the third time in qualifying this season and will start from P2 on the grid to Vettel’s P3. Vettel was irate at his lack of pace compared to the Mercedes but Ferrari the team will have a decided advantage over the Silver Arrows come race day. This is because despite qualifying P4 Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas will face a 5-spot grid penalty of his own for a gearbox change. So the same bugaboo that bit Hamilton in Austria, a race Bottas went on to win from pole after a miracle start, has hit the other Mercedes car. That means Bottas will have to start P9 and will be hard pressed to make it to the front and be a useful ally to Hamilton against the attacks of two well-placed Prancing Horses.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen had the fifth fastest time but is promoted to P4 after Bottas’ penalty. The hard luck that has often befallen the young Dutchman this season struck his teammate Daniel Ricciardo instead. Ricciardo suffered a turbo failure in Q1 and will have to start from the last row alongside Fernando Alonso, who was levied a ridiculous amount of grid positions this week for changes made to his McLaren. Nico Hulkenberg was very impressive in dragging his pokey factory Renault up to qualify P6 and will start from P5. The two Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon qualified P7 and P8 respectively and will start P6 & P7. McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne was the last to leapfrog the penalized Bottas and will better his P9 time by one to start P8. The unhappy Grosjean, feeling hard done by both Hamilton’s blocking and the stewards’ lack of punishment, will start from P10.
Top 10 qualifiers for the British GP:
|5||33||RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER||1:38.912||1:29.431||1:28.130||23|
|7||11||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||1:42.009||1:29.824||1:28.902||26|
|8||31||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||1:39.738||1:29.701||1:29.074||25|
Tomorrow’s race airs live on CNBC at 8AM Eastern here in the States. Can Lewis Hamilton regain momentum in the title chase and defend his home turf against the points-leading Vettel? Can Mercedes find a way to move Bottas up the order to fend off Ferrari’s Constructors ambitions? And, of course, can the notoriously fickle Midlands weather throw some surprises into play? Hope to see you then find out!