Bottas beats Hamilton to British GP pole

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The biggest news of this weekend’s British Grand Prix is that it will continue on the Formula 1 calendar through 2024. That’s great news as the UK is the spiritual and physical home of F1. This weekend’s 53rd running is an opportunity for Lewis Hamilton to become the most winningest F1 driver on this historic circuit but it all has to start in qualifying.

Mercedes were the considered favorites on the unique Silverstone track characteristics, but Free Practice 3 showed some pace from the Ferraris. Perhaps the bigger battle could be between hometown heroes McLaren and the resurgent Renault team for best-of-the-rest.

Q1

The first session finds our focus on the Alfa Romeo’s who seemed to be struggling for pace all weekend long. Could they make it out of Q1? Both Kimi Raikkonen and Anotnio Giovinazzi were out early on Reds to try.

With 13 minutes left in the session, Ferrari came out for their initial runs as Carlos Sainz claimed top spot in his McLaren making all the Papaya Orange hat-wearing fans happy. Daniel Ricciardo hauled his Renault up to 3rd but his teammate, Nico Hulkenebrg was miserably off the pace in his initial run.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc jumped to the top with a 1:25.628s and a lap record on Medium compound tires which are a half-second slower on one lap. His teammate, Sebastian Vettel, 0.526s off Leclerc’s time. Both Mercedes drivers were out on their initial runs with Lewis Hamilton setting fastest second and third sector and set a new fastest lap and top time. His teammate, Valtteri Bottas, slotted third behind Leclerc.

Red Bull were a bit of an unknown but Max Verstappen’s initial run moved him up to third which meant that they had serious pace and could be a threat being just a tenth off the fastest lap. McLaren hauled both their car ahead of the Renault’s with just 2 minutes to go but it was Kimi Raikkonen well off the pace of his teammate Giovinazzi and the 2007 champ was struggling to make it to Q2 as were both Racing Point drivers Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll.

Both Alfa’s managed to make it into Q2 as did Romain Grosjean in his Haas F1 car. Daniil Kvyat spent the session chasing the rear end of his car around every corner during the session.

Out in Q1- Kubica, Russell, Magnussen, Kvyat, Stroll. Stroll joins Russell and Kubica in being eliminated in Q1 in every race this year

Q2

The session started and both Mercedes cars were out on Medium Yellows. The clouds were dark and threatening to uphold the classic British weather reputation. The air was thick with moisture as the rear wings of the cars did their best to convert the air to water with vortices on the trailing edges.

Lewis set the initial time but it was eclipsed by Leclerc with Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly besting his teammate, Verstappen, to 4th. It was Vettel’s time but he was running the Reds with a potential split strategy from Ferrari. Oddly, Vettel was slow on the Reds and only managed 8th quickest time.

The Alfas were struggling to get to the top ten but they couldn’t find the pace and were languishing in the elimination zone with Alex Albon, Grosjean and Perez. Verstappen managed to jump Gasly and move up to 4th and if his message about lag in Q1 was an issue, it didn’t seem to be an issue in Q2 or at least he wasn’t radioing about it.

With three minutes left, Romain Grosjean couldn’t move up from 15th and it was revealed that Vettel made his initial run on used Reds so speculation was that he wasn’t trying to make an honest run.

With 2 minutes to go, all the cars were on their out laps and all but Lewis Hamilton were on Reds (Soft compound). As the laps ended, it was Vettel who was in the elimination zone but he jumped up to only P5. Leclerc did improve and both Ferrari’s will start on Reds. Stunningly, Carlos Sainz was unable to claw his way in to Q3.

Alex Albon took his Toro Rosso into Q3 and that’s a huge achievement for a struggling car.

Out in Q2- Perez, Grosjean, Sainz, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi

Q3

Mercedes has taken pole every year at Silverstone since 2013. Could Lewis or Valtteri manage to bring yet another pole position or would Ferrari have a trick up their sleeve? The Mercs were out first nose-to-tail with Lewis Hamilton first followed by Bottas. Lewis struggling in Brooklands and lost some time but still set the fastest first sector while Bottas set fastest second sector.

Hamilton was bested by Bottas who took provisional pole due to his Brooklands moment. The Ferrari were next with Lecler in 4th and Vettel in 6th. Pierre Gasly split the Ferrari’s and Verstappen leading them.

It was an interesting result as Ferrari’s looked quick during practice sessions and even in Q1 and Q2 but in Q3, they were half a second off the Mercedes pace. The Mercs were on pace for their 64th front-row lock out. Leclerc said he had a big mistake on the last corner.

The crowd cheered as Lando Norris made his initial run but the bigger concern was that only one McLaren made it to Q3 while both Renault’s were now running best-of-the-rest which is a role McLaren felt they had firmly in hand. Norris managed to jump up between the Renault’s and it expose dhow damaging it was that Sainz didn’t make it to Q3.

With 1 minute left, the Mercs were out but it was Bottas out first with Lewis in tow. The first sector revealed that both were off their initial run pace. Leclerc, meanwhile was setting the quickest first sector time.

Lewis missed pole position to his teammate, Bottas, by just 0.006s with Leclerc in 3rd. Both Red Bulls slotted 4th and 5th, Verstappen leading Gasly, while Vettel struggled home to a miserable 6th.

POSDRIVERCARTIMEGAP
1Valtteri BottasMercedes1m25.093s
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1m25.099s0.006s
3Charles LeclercFerrari1m25.172s0.079s
4Max VerstappenRed Bull/Honda1m25.276s0.183s
5Pierre GaslyRed Bull/Honda1m25.590s0.497s
6Sebastian VettelFerrari1m25.787s0.694s
7Daniel RicciardoRenault1m26.182s1.089s
8Lando NorrisMcLaren/Renault1m26.224s1.131s
9Alexander AlbonToro Rosso/Honda1m26.345s1.252s
10Nico HulkenbergRenault1m26.386s1.293s
11Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo/Ferrari1m26.519s1.426s
12Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo/Ferrari1m26.546s1.453s
13Carlos Sainz Jr.McLaren/Renault1m26.578s1.485s
14Romain GrosjeanHaas/Ferrari1m26.757s1.664s
15Sergio PerezRacing Point/Mercedes1m26.928s1.835s
16Kevin MagnussenHaas/Ferrari1m26.662s1.569s
17Daniil KvyatToro Rosso/Honda1m26.721s1.628s
18Lance StrollRacing Point/Mercedes1m26.762s1.669s
19George RussellWilliams/Mercedes1m27.789s2.696s
20Robert KubicaWilliams/Mercedes1m28.257s3.164s
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