Lewis Hamilton took pole for the British Grand Prix with a dominant performance at Silverstone. He beat his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas into second place but the pair were in a battle of their own for the front row of the grid. Max Verstappen was in third for Red Bull a full second back, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in fourth and McLaren’s Lando Norris an impressive fifth.
Hamilton saved his best for last, he had not finished fastest in a session all weekend until the final runs in Q3 and indeed had shown a rare moment of weakness in spinning off in Q2. When it mattered however the British driver had Silverstone at his fingertips once more.
His first run in the final session was his best of the day and Bottas came close but a tenth back could not match it. Having laid down the gauntlet on the final hot runs Hamilton delivered a strike of unerring accuracy. He went quicker, with a time of 1min 24.303sec. Bottas made a marginal error and was three-tenths off. The rest of the field were left in a competition of their own.
Hamilton now has a remarkable 91 career pole positions and his seventh at Silverstone extends his record for taking the top spot at the British Grand Prix. He is already the most successful driver at the race with six victories. He and Mercedes have been dominant at Silverstone since the turbo hybrid era began in 2014, Hamilton has taken victory in all five of the five races Mercedes have won here since.
Mercedes are looking increasingly to be in a class of their own. Their car enjoyed the advantage on the short but fast challenge of Austria and also through the tight slower corners of Hungary. On the high-speed sweeps of Silverstone’s fast corners which have played to their strengths so often in the past, they were once more untouchable. Hamilton now has three poles from four races and the team three wins from three. Discussion in the paddock has already moved to whether Mercedes could secure a clean sweep of victories this season. Hamilton leads the championship five points clear of Bottas.
Hamilton crosses the line to take pole.
Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images
Niko Hülkenberg, drafted in as a last minute replacement at Racing Point for Sergio Pérez, who had tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, acquitted himself well. His 13th place was solid given that he has not raced since the last round of last season in December and has had to familiarise himself with his team’s car from a standing start.
Ferrari had warned that their power deficit would prove costly at Silverstone and indeed they struggled. Sebastian Vettel had technical issues across practice and although the Scuderia had made steps forwards with aero upgrades in Austria and Hungary, the gap to Mercedes, Red Bull and now even Racing Point remains. With car and engine development frozen for 2021 their chairman, John Elkann, warned gloomily this week that he did not expect them t o be competitive until 2022.
Red Bull too have struggled to quite hook their car up all weekend. It is demanding in terms of setup and stability, and the drivers are finding it tricky to push to the maximum. The team have acknowledged they have some way go in finessing it. Their Honda engine is performing well but at a track where power is so crucial the team they were simply unable to bridge the gap Mercedes have established at the front.
Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was sixth. McLaren’s Carlos Sainz was in seventh with Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon in eighth and ninth for Renault. Vettel’s trying weekend continued with only 10th for Ferrari.
George Russell put his Williams into Q2 for the third race in succession, finishing in 15th place, his teammate Nicholas Latifi was in 20th. AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was in 11th with teammate Daniil Kvyat, who will receive a five place grid penalty for taking a new gearbox, in 14th. Alexander Albon will be disappointed with taking only 12th for Red Bull.
Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Räikkönen were in 17th and 18th, with Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean in 16th and 19th.