In one of the closest qualifying hours of the year, Briton’s Lewis Hamilton secured a record sixth British Grand Prix pole position, with the top three covered by less than one tenth of a second.
The Mercedes man was forced to fight back against championship rival Sebastian Vettel to steal pole position with his final run of qualifying, whilst Vettel’s Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was just 0.098 away from pole, but was forced to settle for third.
“I gave it everything that I could. It was so close between these Ferraris, they were able to pull something out when we got to Q3 and I was just praying that I could do it,” said Hamilton.
“I’m so grateful for the support, without you guys [the fans] I wouldn’t be able to do it.”
Vettel, who was suffering from neck problems after free practice three, said that he wasn’t sure he would be participating in the qualifying hour.
“To be honest, no, I wasn’t sure I could do qually. It was very close,” said Vettel.
“My last lap, I was very happy with it, but I seemed to lose a bit of time in the straights, so I think I’m missing a bit of toe, but I think it was very close.”
The second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas made a mistake on his final run and could not challenge for anything higher than fourth.
The two Red Bulls and the two Haas’ performed as expected and locked out the third and fourth rows.
Qualifying session 1
Hartley’s weekend was derailed by a huge crash in free practice three. His Toro Rosso sustained a front-left suspension failure on the approach to Brooklands corner, which sent his car into a high-speed spin.
With the car bouncing over the gravel trap the car threatened to become airborne, and the car crashed at high speed into the tyre barrier.
He walked away unhurt, but his Toro Rosso wasn’t rebuilt in time for qualifying.
The second Toro Rosso belonging to Pierre Gasly underwent front suspension changes as a result, but the Frenchman managed to get out in time for qualifying.
Lance Stroll dented Williams’ hopes of a successful home grand prix by spinning out of qualifying in the first few minutes of Q1.
The Canadian lost control of his car at Brooklands and beached his car in the gravel trap, ending his day early and bringing out the red flags.
He was almost joined on the sidelines by his team-mate Sergey Sirotkin; the second Williams went off into the gravel trap at Stowe corner, but just about managed to prevent the car from getting stuck and he recovered to the pit lane.
Sirotkin’s sole completed lap was nowhere near being good enough to progress into Q2, with the Russian falling 2.6 seconds off the pace, but with two drivers already out, he finished the session in 18th.
McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne was also a long way off progression, finishing seventeenth and leaving a battle between the two Renault’s to reach Q2.
Nico Hulkenberg’s final flying lap dumped his team-mate Carlos Sainz out of Q1 for the first time this season, whilst, remarkably Gasly edged through to the next session despite the car’s front-end rebuild.
Hamilton, Bottas and Raikkonen progressed to Q2 on the medium tyres, such was the confidence of Mercedes and Ferrari.
Qualifying session 2
Unlike recent races, all front-runners chose to set their Q2 times on the softest available tyre, meaning that everybody in the top ten will start the race on the soft-compound tyre.
In a somewhat anti-climatic Q2 session, very few of the midfielders improved on their second attempt.
Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson will probably be disappointed to finish the session in fifteenth, given team-mate Charles Leclerc progressed into the top ten.
Gasly finished just ahead of the Swede in fourteenth, whilst just missing out on Q3 were McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, Force India’s Sergio Perez and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.
Qualifying session 3
With both Mercedes and Ferrari turning their cars up to maximum power, both Hamilton and Vettel were evenly matched in all three sectors, with there being no greater difference than 0.04 of a second in any given sector.
But with two out of the three sectors going to Vettel, it was the Ferrari man who took provisional pole position by just 0.057 of a second.
The two Finns of Bottas and Raikkonen finished the opening laps in third and fourth, ahead of the two Red Bulls.
With Hamilton looking to deliver in front of his home crowd, he pulled off the best middle sector of the day to steal pole position by what would turn out to be 0.044 of a second from Vettel, his sixth pole position at Silverstone.
Raikkonen almost pulled off a surprise result; he set the fastest first and third sectors but fell one tenth short of Hamilton’s time and had to settle for third in front of Bottas.
The two Red Bulls were no contest for the front four, and Verstappen had a straightforward victory over team-mate, who was forced to run Q3 without DRS.
Another strong qualifying for Haas put Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean in seventh and eighth, ahead of Leclerc and Force India’s Ocon.
BRITISH GRAND PRIX, Qualifying
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m25.892s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m25.936s 0.044s
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m25.990s 0.098s
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m26.217s 0.325s
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m26.602s 0.710s
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m27.099s 1.207s
7 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m27.244s 1.352s
8 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m27.455s 1.563s
9 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 1m27.879s 1.987s
10 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m28.194s 2.302s
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m27.901s
12 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m27.928s
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 1m28.139s
14 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1m28.343s
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m28.391s
16 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m28.456s
17 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 1m29.096s
18 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 1m29.252s
19 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes No time
20 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda No time
By: Luke Murphy
All images: Motorsport Images
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