Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton turned the tables on Red Bull’s Max Verstappen from practice earlier, and took pole Saturday’s qualifying Sprint race. Hamilton’s lap of 1m26.134s was 0.075s better than Verstappen could do to secure the pole.
The large British crowd went wild.
Valtteri Bottas, who helped Hamilton with a tow, was third quick in the 2nd Mercedes, a close 0.194s behind.
Charles Leclerc was 4th for Ferrari 0.694s behind while Sergio Perez rounded out the top-5 in the 2nd Red Bull Honda.
“I’ve been missing this for a whole year,” said Hamilton. “You see the energy, I was hopeful with all the great work we’ve done as a team, and all the energy from the fans would get us there. We’ve left no stone unturned. I lost the back end in that final corner, so my heart was in my mouth as I crossed the line… I’m over the moon. It feels like such a long time since we’ve been anywhere near!”
“I think the car itself was handling quite well, but we had understeer, so I couldn’t attack any corners,” said a disappointed Verstappen. “It is what it is, we were still quite close. It’s a bit of a weird feeling to be honest, we’ll see tomorrow – I think we have a strong race car.”
“I think it was a good qualifying based on how fast Red Bull was, to get on ‘pole’ as a team. It’s all to play for [tomorrow],” said Bottas.
Another driver who brought the British crowd to their feet was British driver George Russell who put the lowly Williams 8th on the grid, a fantastic result. Russell is expected to replace Bottas at Mercedes in 2022.
I am so grateful to see everyone here – to come to the Silverstone Grand Prix, and have a full crowd, and see the energy is amazing. When I was coming into this weekend, I was hopeful that with the great work we have done together in the team, plus the energy of the fans, it would get us there.
Red Bull were very quick in the practice session, but we were just staying focused on our job, and trying to layer up – I was in the sim this morning as a practice session because it’s the first time ever we have had a morning free. I was just putting in the time, trying to give absolutely everything, and leave no stone unturned.
We’ve been working so hard, putting so much effort, and time in – at the track, on the sim, in the factory – just trying to stay centered, and squeeze every last thing out of this car. It’s been such a difficult time for everyone, and we finally got all the fans here at the British Grand Prix, and the desire to want to deliver for everyone is beyond belief.
I think the last lap was really good, I was the first one out in free air with no tow so if I consider that, it was a good lap. As a team we are at the front in the fight which is great to see – Red Bull looked strong in Practice, and it was a bit worrying, but it’s all to play for.
Today was only Qualifying, we have the Sprint Race tomorrow with lots of opportunities, and I’m looking forward to it – as a team we’ll try to get the best result. It was great to feel the energy, and the atmosphere of the crowd today, it’s really cool to see the fans here.
Well done to Lewis on another pole position; they haven’t been easy to come by this year, but it was a solid job throughout, and a relief that his first lap in the final session was enough to secure the top spot. Our morning was focused on learning; there’s simply too much work to fit into one hour, but we managed to do a decent mix of long run, and single lap work. Our single lap pace was uninspiring in Practice, but we managed to find a direction to improve grip, and balance going into Qualifying which showed in the timesheets. Valtteri’s final run was a good lap, but compromised by being first car out; we’ll review our timing on that, as we could have potentially secured the front row had we found him a car in front. Overall, the pace was strong from both cars, and that’s reassuring given that we’ve had a tough time in recent qualifying sessions.
“Of course I am disappointed because I wanted to start first tomorrow, but we have the sprint qualifying race to decide the main grid, and then Sunday as well so we will try, and get them back. Overall, the car was handling quite well, but we just had a lot of understeer, and I couldn’t really attack the corners as I was waiting for the front to grip up. It was a bit of a weird feeling to drive, and I don’t think it was set-up or front wing related, so maybe front tires, but we will look at it, and it’s nothing dramatic. To be this close is still very good for us on a track we expected Mercedes to be very strong, and we know we have a good race car so I’m still confident for the rest of the weekend.”
“I ran wide into Turn 15, and my best lap time was deleted which is a bit of a shame, but those are the rules, and luckily I only lost one place. P4 would have been a bit better, but we have the sprint race to make it further up the grid for Sunday so still there is plenty to play for. We improved the car a lot as the day went on, but I found a bit of a difference in the balance at the end of Q3, and couldn’t get the most out of the car. I’m looking forward to tomorrow as it will be interesting to see what happens with the new sprint format, and how much progress we are able to make in that race.”
“I would have liked to end Q3 higher up because the car has looked competitive, and the pace came quite easily today. Overall, it was a decent session: I was happy with my best lap in Q2, but in Q3 I struggled to find more from the car. So I think we could have been a few places higher up. It was great to see the big crowd here today, and I guess the new format made Friday more interesting for the fans.”
“P15 is not how we wanted to start our home event, but there is an opportunity to improve tomorrow thanks to the Sprint Race format. I was not totally comfortable in the car during practice, but I think we made some progress in qualifying, although it was not enough to make Q3. It was a challenge to only have one practice session today before qualifying, but it is the same for everyone. We will go away tonight, and learn from today to make sure we maximize the second practice session before Sprint Qualifying.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Aston Martin CEO & Team Principal
“We had some technical difficulties with Lance’s car in Q1, which necessitated our having to make some changes to it for Q2. He did his best with that new set-up in Q2, but he was hampered by oversteer at Maggotts, and Becketts, as a result of which he was not able to progress to Q3. Sebastian was happier with his car, and, benefiting from a few tenths advantage of a fresh engine, duly made it through to Q3, although on his best Q3 lap he lost a small amount of time at Turns Six, and Seven, and Turns 11, and 12., but what matters most now is converting today’s results into as good a performance as possible in tomorrow’s Sprint Race Qualifying, to optimize our chances of scoring solid points in Sunday’s feature race.”
Lando Norris: “Tricky day with this different format, just because of the time limits you have. With less track time than we’re used to, it makes it much more challenging to know what decisions to make, and you take a couple more gambles based on the information you have. Saying that, I don’t think we could’ve done a lot better than sixth. Maybe there was something here or there, but at the end of the day, I’m satisfied with where we are. We have FP2 tomorrow to prepare for the sprint, so we’ll see what we can do.”
Daniel Ricciardo: “On the whole, it was a really positive day. I had really good speed all through qualifying, made some good steps and felt good with the car, so that’s important. I can’t help but feel frustrated because it’s so close to P4, and it’s always when you’re at the back of the close pack that you feel it most. But anyway, it’s progress, it’s good, it’s positive. It’s always easy to find that half a tenth with hindsight, and I feel it probably was there. Sprint qualifying tomorrow, we’ll see what happens, get a good start, make some positions and get up to fourth, where I believe we could’ve been today. That’s the plan tomorrow.”
Andrea Stella, McLaren Racing Director: “Interesting day! The practice session this afternoon was intense, but we got through our program and were well-prepared for qualifying. Qualifying itself was very, very competitive, with several teams producing good lap-times, making getting through the sessions by no means a foregone conclusion. Ultimately, we managed to make it into Q3 with both cars, Lando and Daniel drove very well and we’re very happy with the positions. It’s only the first step of a longer weekend, however, and we’re looking forward to sprint qualifying and the race.”
Dave Robson, Williams Head of Vehicle Performance: Today has been a busy but exciting day. We felt that we struggled a little in FP1, but we were happy that we had done the work that we needed to in order to set the car up ready for Saturday and Sunday. Going into Qualifying we made a few minor changes to the cars to suit the cooler track temperature and calmer wind conditions.
From the first run in Qualifying, both drivers were happy with their cars and were confident to push harder each lap. Nicholas was losing time on the straights compared to George and this is something that we need to investigate because it wasn’t expected. George benefited from having five sets of tires in the session and was able to improve with each lap. His final lap in Q3, at his home race and with the circuit to himself, was great to see and he made the most of the opportunity with yet another excellent qualifying lap.
With the cars now in Parc Ferme, our attention turns to finalizing the plans for FP2 and tomorrow’s inaugural Sprint Qualifying session. We can’t change much on the car, but there are still a lot of decision to be made, which could determine the final grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
There is still a long way to go this weekend, but we are pleased with our start and we are looking forward to seeing how the strategies unfold over the next two days.
George Russell: It was our best qualifying session, and to do it in front of a home crowd was such an amazing feeling. This morning in FP1 I had no confidence with the car, and here we are in P8! Following practice, we had a decision to make to try and improve the car or stick to our guns and hope the track came towards us, which it did. Everything got in a much nicer window and I felt confident and comfortable out there, which allowed me to get that extra tenth or two. Ultimately, we did a fantastic job to get there, and it is about tomorrow now. It is not going to be easy, but we need to be aggressive and get on the front foot.
Nicholas Latifi: The car was feeling good, and I could have done a better lap if the car balance had been in a slightly better window, but overall, I am quite pleased. When I finished the lap, I was happy and then frustrated. Happy as I felt it was a good lap but frustrated that it was slow. We have both the Sprint Qualifying and the Grand Prix itself to move forwards, and we have FP2 to try and see if we can improve the issue, so that’s what we are going to focus on.
“Since FP1 we’ve struggled with the car balance, far more than usual. We made some changes for Qualifying, but it just wasn’t enough. I was happy with my lap in Q2 but as I crossed the line, I knew it wasn’t going to be enough, it was just so tight out there today. I think it’s going to be hard the next few days because we can’t make changes to the car anymore. We only have FP2 to understand the tire better ahead of the Sprint Qualifying and Sunday’s race, but we’ll fight as hard as always, it’s a different format and lots of things can happen, you never know.”
“After FP1 I’d started to get used to the circuit, but I had a lot of traffic and never managed to put together a perfect lap. So, going into Qualifying after just one session was always going to be difficult. It’s a shame to be out in Q1 today, but the field was really tight at the end and I struggled again with traffic on my final push lap. Starting tomorrow from P16 I think will be difficult, but I’ll give it everything I’ve got during Sprint Qualifying and we’ll see what I can do.”
Jonathan Eddolls (AlphaTauri Chief Race Engineer)
“It’s been a tough day for us here in Silverstone. We haven’t been able to show the performance we expected or had demonstrated at previous races. With the new Sprint Qualifying format, FP1 was focused on normal Qualifying preparation and sustainable running. The performance on the Mediums was aligned to our expectations, but when fitting the Softs we struggled more than we expected. We analyzed the data and made some changes for Qualifying, but without the usual sessions before entering Parc Ferme, we weren’t able to tune the car as much as we would do normally. The changes made did improve the car, but they were not enough to enter into Q3. Yuki was looking set to progress into Q2, but a traffic jam in the last corner when starting his final lap cost him nearly 0.2s before turn one – he did well to make most of this time back, but sadly it was not enough. Pierre’s laps were clean, but we just didn’t have the pace today, so we really need to work on understanding this, as it’s still not clear to us why we are struggling. We now have another practice session to focus more on long run performance and tires, so I am confident we can extract more from the car in Sprint Qualifying and eventually the race.”
Fernando Alonso : “It was tricky today, but I think we had a little bit more pace in the car to get into Q3. The traffic was quite difficult to manage and the out laps in Q2 were a bit messy. It was unfortunate to be out before Q3, but it’s a new format this weekend. We have another opportunity tomorrow to gain places on the grid until we race on Sunday. Let’s see what we can learn and improve ready for tomorrow. The atmosphere was amazing today, and it really felt like we were racing so I hope the fans enjoyed it.”
Esteban Ocon : “Overall, I’m pleased with today even if the result is slightly disappointing. I’m happy to see that we’re back on the pace and getting the maximum out of the car. Thanks to everyone at Enstone, Viry and at the track for all their hard work over the last week. Qualifying was going well until the last run, when we had a messy out lap. That was a shame as we were quick enough for Q3 today. It’s all to play for tomorrow in Sprint Qualifying.”
Davide Brivio, Racing Director: “It’s been a good qualifying; even if we didn’t go through to Q3. In reality, we were very close to it. We had the potential to be there, but a little bit of traffic was just enough to knock us out. So, we start eleventh and thirteenth on the grid, but we have another chance tomorrow with the Sprint Qualifying to improve our position for the main race. We need to go in with a positive approach, use it as an opportunity and try to use it to our advantage to gain some places.”
Charles Leclerc: “I’m very happy with today’s result. Going into qualifying with so little preparation makes things a bit more tricky, but also exciting. We did a good job in maximizing the potential of our car. Overall, I felt confident, especially in Q1. In Q2, I was not at the level that I wanted to be, but I regained my confidence and pace for the final session, finishing in P4. I think it was the best result we could have hoped for. In terms of expectations for tomorrow, we have to wait and see. We are all heading into an unknown – to battle it out in the first Sprint Qualifying in Formula 1. We will use FP2 to prepare as well as we can, and give it our all to bring home the best possible result.”
Carlos Sainz Jr.: “I’m not fully satisfied with this quali. I had a good feeling with the car from the start of the session, building confidence every lap up to Q2, where I put together a strong lap time to make it into Q3. In the very last attempt, however, I struggled a bit more and a couple of small mistakes here and there meant I couldn’t match that lap from Q2, losing a tenth or so that unfortunately today was very costly, as it was extremely tight. It is a pity because the car had the pace and the lap time was there. The Sprint Qualifying gives us a good opportunity to push tomorrow, though. Time to focus on that. The weekend is far from over yet, and I will give it my all until the end.”
Laurent Mekies, Ferrari Sporting Director: “A good qualifying for us on the very demanding Silverstone track. There was a very close fight throughout the session for those behind the top three. In Q3, the smallest of gaps meant the difference between being on the second or fifth rows and our drivers finished at either end of this group of six drivers. Charles did a very good job all day and fourth place was a nice reward. A shame for Carlos who had the speed to be a bit further up the grid for tomorrow. We had prepared carefully for this weekend, the first with the new format, and I think we saw the fruits of our efforts. We know that here more than ever, race pace is more important than performance over a single lap and that on a track like this, it is the most difficult challenge facing us. Now we must concentrate on the second round, namely Sprint Qualifying, which presents new challenges to the teams and drivers. We will have to do a good job and make the most of the second free practice to be as well-prepared for this major new element of the weekend, without forgetting that the Grand Prix is on Sunday.”
Mark C. reporting for AutoRacing1.com
|2||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:26.751||1:26.315||1:26.209||16|
|5||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:27.121||1:27.073||1:26.844||17|
|6||4||Lando Norris||McLaren Mercedes||1:27.444||1:27.220||1:26.897||20|
|7||3||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren Mercedes||1:27.323||1:27.125||1:26.899||22|
|8||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:27.671||1:27.080||1:26.971||17|
|10||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:27.493||1:27.103||1:27.179||15|
|11||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:27.580||1:27.245||–||12|
|12||10||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri Honda||1:27.600||1:27.273||–||14|
|13||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:27.415||1:27.340||–||12|
|14||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:27.595||1:27.617||–||15|
|15||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:28.017||1:27.665||–||12|
|16||22||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri Honda||1:28.043||–||–||10|
|17||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:28.062||–||–||9|
|18||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:28.254||–||–||8|
|19||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:28.738||–||–||10|
|20||9||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari||1:29.051||–||–||9|