Lewis Hamilton smashed the track record twice on Saturday to grab a record seventh British Grand Prix pole position with a stunning performance in a tense qualifying session.
Hamilton, who was looking to secure a record-increasing seventh Silverstone victory yesterday, finished ahead of his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas by more than three-tenths of a second after the Finn had been fastest in final practice, and then again in both Q2 and Q3 when he also set lap records.
The defending six-time champion and current series leader bounced back from a ragged performance, including a spin, in the first parts of qualifying to claim his 65th pole with Mercedes and the record-increasing 91st of his career.
It was also a record eighth successive Mercedes pole success in Britain on a day when they were clear of their nearest rivals, Red Bull, by a full second, Max Verstappen taking third place on the grid ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Rising British star Lando Norris, 20, was fifth for McLaren ahead of Lance Stroll in Racing Point’s ‘pink Mercedes,’ Carlos Sainz in the second McLaren, Daniel Ricciardo and his Renault teammate Esteban Oconm and Sebastian Vettel, who was 10th for Ferrari.
“This track is awesome, but it is tough out there — with the winds, it is like juggling balls on a moving plate,” Hamilton said. “I had a spin, and as you know qualifying is all about confidence, and I was struggling in the first sectors of every lap, but I took some deep breaths, composed myself and in Q3 I had a clear lap, and the second one was even better.”
“It still isn’t perfect, but it never gets old,” he added.
He said that it was strange to drive without any fans in the circuit.
“Usually, it’s all sirens, flags and smoke and the atmosphere is buzzing — you get out of the car and have a different energy so I miss them, but I hope everyone is safe and happy at home,” Hamilton said.
“It was a pretty good day until Q3 when I started to drift a bit with the rear. Lewis found a bit more than me and he deserved the pole,” Bottas said. “He managed to win from P2 last year with a different strategy to mine, so I hope I get opportunities tomorrow.”
Verstappen said that Mercedes were untouchable.
“They are just way too fast. You have to expect that and do the best you can — and that’s P3,” he said.
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