Hamilton on Pole for record 6th time in Silverstone

Mercedes Lewis Hamilton hangs onto Pole Position after beating Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen and team-mate Valterri Bottas to his 50th pole position for Mercedes.

07/07/18

It was always going to be close. It’s been the story of the season so far on how Mercedes and Ferrari compare on single lap pace. Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas ran the Medium tyre in Q1 and ended up 2nd and 3rd with Sebastian Vettel who was on the Soft tyre in 1st. Now on the Soft tyre, Hamilton regained the advantage by going fastest in Q2. By Q3, it was Vettel who piped Hamilton to provisional pole position. By the time the chequered flag fell, Hamilton put in a storming lap to beat Vettel to claim pole position for the 6th time in Silverstone. Bottas finished 4th and was disappointed to be there.

It’s not often that you see a Ferrari driver topping a Friday practice session. Vettel put the cat amongst the pigeons by going quickest in FP2 – but this came at a price. The German had injured his neck and was getting regular massages to help him. This pain did not distract the 4 time world champion as he put his Ferrari on provisional pole position. Piped by Hamilton, Vettel will line up 2nd with now a 1 point lead in the Championship to protect. I was surprised, in a nice way, to see Raikkonen going fastest in the first sector. A mistake at the end of the lap put pay to potential pole position in which the Finn was unhappy about.

It sounds bad to say it but by getting both cars on the 3rd row of the grid is what Red Bull were expecting. Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo have been evenly matched all weekend but the Dutchman piped his Australian team-mate to 5th and 6th. Ricciardo suffered a DRS issue in which the DRS did not operate in the final part of Q3 costing him a couple of tenths. Will Red Bull be able to fight with Mercedes and Ferrari or will they be looking behind trying to fend off the chasing pack?

If only everything went right in Australia. For the second time in two race weekends, Haas are officially “best of the rest”. Romain Grosjean crashed in FP1 which brought the Frenchman’s morale down after his first points of the year in Austria but he bounced back to make it into the top 10. Kevin Magnussen couldn’t match the pace of the Red Bulls this time but 7th is a very good effort.

On a track were the team expected to struggle, Charles Leclerc proved the team and everyone wrong by getting into Q3 for the 2nd time this season. Both Sauber drivers escaped Q1 but Marcus Ericsson was knocked out in Q2 and 0.6 seconds behind Leclerc as the Monegasque progressed to Q3. Leclerc would qualify 9th, ahead of Ocon’s Force India and 4 tenths behind Grosjean’s Haas.

After a double DNF in Austria, Force India will be pleased to have a car in the top 10 and one not far off it. Esteban Ocon managed to squeeze into Q3 for the 5th time this season while Sergio Perez was knocked out in Q2 ending up in 12th. Points will be on offer but be set for a huge scrap between all the mid-field teams.

Not a day to remember for Renault. They have looked on the ropes all weekend and the big shock was that Carlos Sainz was knocked out of Q1. He blamed traffic on his final lap and ended up 16th. Nico Hulkenberg kept up his record of always out-qualifying a team-mate here but couldn’t get into the top 10 just missing out in 11th.

Despite qualifying in 13th, Fernando Alonso hailed this qualifying session as the best of the year so far. Once again the two time world champion maximised the performance of his McLaren to qualify above the expected position. The characteristics of Silverstone, downforce and power demands, highlight’s McLaren’s overall weaknesses. On the other hand, Stoffel Vandoorne had a dreadful qualifying session and called the car “undriveable” blaming this as part of the reason of the 9 tenth gap between himself and Alonso.

Brendon Hartley suffered a high speed suspension failure in FP3. The New Zealander is okay but the car was too badly damaged to qualify. Toro Rosso bought a few upgrades to this weekend to push them up the pecking order but Pierre Gasly suggested otherwise as the Frenchman qualified in 14th.

What a disaster. Just to add to their misery this year, both Williams cars were knocked out in Q1 at their home race. Lance Stroll spun at Brooklands and ended up beached and out of Qualifying thus bringing out the Red Flag. Then, Sergey Sirotkin would spin off but he was able to get out of the gravel and make it back to the garage. His only lap left him 18th with Stroll not able to set a lap and finishing 19th.

Qualifying Result

  1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:25:892
  2. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:25:936
  3. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:25:990
  4. Valterri Bottas, Mercedes, 1:26:217
  5. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 1:26:602
  6. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull,1:27:099
  7. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, 1:27:244
  8. Romain Grosjean, Haas, 1:27:455
  9. Charles Leclerc, Sauber, 1:27:879
  10. Esteban Ocon, Force India, 1:28:194
  11. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 1:27.901
  12. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:27.928
  13. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:28.139
  14. Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso, 1:28:343
  15. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:28:391
  16. Carlos Sainz, Renault, 1:28:456
  17. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, 1:29:096
  18. Sergey Sirotkin, Williams, 1:29:252
  19. Lance Stroll, Williams, no time set
  20. Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso, did not take part

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