Lewis Hamilton storms to British GP pole after spin as Mercedes rule again
BERLIN – World champion Lewis Hamilton shrugged off a spin on Saturday when he stormed to a seventh pole position at his British home Grand Prix, far ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas and the rest of the pack in another impressive demonstration of Mercedes power.
Like so often in the past, Hamilton delivered when it mattered, after not topping any of the three practice sessions nor the first two parts of qualifying, with Q2 even red-flagged after he spun and kicked gravel onto the track which had to be cleared.
The imperious Briton claimed his third season pole in a row and record-extending 91st overall. On Sunday, he will be bidding for a seventh Silverstone triumph, a third straight win this season and 87th overall.
Hamilton overcame windy conditions he compared to "juggling balls on a moving plate at high speed" as he posted a track record 1 minute 24.303 seconds on the 5.891-kilometre circuit.
He beat Bottas by .303 of a second, after the Finn had pipped him by six-thousandths for first on the grid last year.
Max Verstappen trailed by more than a second in third for Red Bull and Charles Leclerc salvaged fourth place for troubled Ferrari.
"There's a relatively big gap between us and third place, but it doesn't matter at the end of the day. Valtteri is pushing me right to the limit," Hamilton said.
"Obviously we had that spin. Qualifying is a lot about confidence building and man, I was already down and down in the first sector every lap. I don't know how, but I took some deep breaths and managed to compose myself ... It never gets old that's for sure."
Six-time world champion Hamilton tops the title race, five points ahead of Bottas after three races of which Bottas won the first and Hamilton the next two.
Bottas, who had topped Q1 and Q2 but found no answer to Hamilton at crunchtime, insisted that "everything is still wide open" for Sunday while Verstappen conceded that Mercedes were "way too fast."
Lance Stroll was sixth fastest for fancied Racing Point after only sneaking into the final shoot-out of the best 10 drivers because he had set the time that put him dead-level with Pierre Gasly a little earlier than the Alpha Tauri man.
Stroll's team-mate Nico Huelkenberg, standing in for Sergio Perez who has contracted the coronavirus, was 13th and Alex Albon 12th after a weekend full of trouble with a crash and technical problems for the Red Bull driver.
Sebastian Vettel also had a fair share of problems around his Ferrari and will start from 10th.
"It was certainly not a good qualifying for us," the German told Sky TV. "I had problems all weekend. I had a tough time to find my rhythm. But I am quite upbeat it will be better tomorrow because it can't get much worse."
Daniil Kvyat of Alpha Tauri will start from 19th after a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.
Leclerc was meanwhile under investigation over an unsafe release in the pit lane and Williams' George Russell, who placed 14th, for possibly not having slowed down under yellow flags.