Silverstone Quali Recap: Hamilton steals pole at home, leading Merc 1-2

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Lewis Hamilton (1:29.607) stormed to pole for the 2013 British Grand Prix after waving to the crowd from pit lane before joining the fray in Q1. He beat his teammate Nico Rosberg to pole, bettering the German’s time after Rosberg had taken provisional pole in the seconds after the flag. Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber will fill out the second row on the grid, with Paul di Resta and Daniel Ricciardo the third.

Though Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso looked strong enough through the qualifying sessions, the former world champions managed only ninth and tenth at the end of Q3. Webber, then Vettel, as well as Rosberg and Hamilton all looked strong through Q3, with the minutes after the flag the usual storm of fast times.

Q1 was the battle of the teammates, as Hamilton and Rosberg fought over the top position while Massa just barely managed to then beat Alonso when hauling himself out of the relegation zone in the seconds after the flag. Neither was up in the sharp end of the field. More important for Williams, Maldonado was the last man across the line and used his lap to drop teammate Bottas out in Q1.

Q2 was a nail-biter, as both Button and Massa fell out of the running at the end of the session. Raikkonen sat in danger in the final seconds, but ended up beating Button, leaving the Briton out of the fight for pole at home. Alonso looked safe enough and sat in the garage in the final minutes, only to barely escape a knockout and move on to Q3. Ricciardo shone on his final lap, leaping up to fifth fastest in Q2.

As has become routine, little lapping actually occurred in the early stages of Friday morning’s practice. Of course, the typical Silverstone rain helped. Since that early rain had not been forecast to continue through the race weekend, teams felt even less compulsion to get the drivers out onto the track.

As such, Ricciardo (1:54.249) set the fastest time in the session, and also the first lap time of the session. His first lap came with less than fifteen minutes remaining in the ninety minute sessions. Hulkenberg, Maldonado, Hamilton, and Gutierrez joined him in the top five. Raikkonen did not leave the garage, though no one spotted him with an ice cream. Rosberg, di Resta, Grosjean, Button, Sutil, Alonso, Webber, Perez, Pic, and Vettel all set no times.

The track dried out to some extent by the start of the afternoon session, leaving Rosberg (1:32.248) in control at the end of the second practice session. Teams were quick to switch to dry tyres, and Rosberg set the fast time at about halfway. Soon thereafter, teams began their race simulations, leaving less room for headline-making times. Webber, Vettel, di Resta, and Hamilton rounded out the top five. For Massa, this became the third race weekend in a row with a crash, as the Ferrari driver lost the rear and skidded into the barriers at Stowe.

Rosberg (1:31.487) led again in the final Saturday morning practice, with teammate Hamilton just over a tenth slower. They had battled to sit on top of the timesheets throughout the practice. Vettel, Webber, and Grosjean completed the top five in the hour long session. A red flag shortened the session, after Perez suffered a cut left rear that damaged his McLaren. He spent a good portion of practice in the garage, but rejoined the action in the final minutes. Those final minutes were not so pleasant for Massa, who sat them out in the Ferrari garage with an unidentified issue.

The sun shone over Silverstone as the lights went out for the twenty minutes of Q1, with something of a stiff breeze in the air. No one rushed out onto the track, but Hulkenberg left the garage within the first minute of the session. Teammate Gutierrez soon followed. Grosjean and Chilton soon followed as drivers trickled out to begin setting times. Instead of heading out to qualifying, Hamilton waved to the crowd from the Mercedes pit box before heading into the garage to actually drive his car on the track.

Early times were expectedly slow, the half the field lapping five minutes into Q1. Grosjean (1:32.586) led Hulkenberg, Gutierrez, Bianchi, and Chilton as the five men who had set times by that point. In the next five minutes more drivers set times and the order continued to change as each driver crossed the line. Alonso (1:32.266) led the timesheet at halfway, while Grosjean, di Resta, Raikkonen, and Ricciardo completed the top five. Maldonado, Bottas, Hulkenberg, and Vergne rounded out the top ten. Technically, no one was in the knockout zone as only fourteen drivers had set times. Vettel, Webber, Button, and van der Garde had non left their respective garages.

Rosberg, Grosjean, and Ricciardo soon bettered Alonso’s time. Thrilling the home crowd, Hamilton (1:30.995) bested his teammate’s time by four tenths to take the top spot, though both were on the softer medium compound tyre whilst everyone else had used the hard tyre to that point. The Red Bull drivers soon joined the fray as many of the previously lapping drivers popped back to the garages for a break and fresh tyres with seven minutes remaining. They, van der Garde, Bianchi, and Pic were all then in the relegation zone.

Hamilton still led with his previous time when five minutes remained. Rosberg, Grosjean, Sutil, Ricciardo, Alonso, Vergne, di Resta, Raikkonen, and Perez were then the top ten. Webber’s first fast lap put him third fastest, while his teammate slid into the order just behind in fourth, though two tenths slower. Button went seventh fastest with just over two minutes to go. Bottas, Massa, Pic, Bianchi, Chilton, and van der Garde were then in the knockout zone. The last had only joined with time for an out and in lap, presumably due to his grid penalty from Canada.

Massa started his final shot to get out of Q1 with a minute left in the session, while teammate Alonso sat in the garage thirteenth fastest. Most of the top ten were also in the garage. Many of those in the drop zone posted personal best sectors, with Massa just beating his teammate to fourteenth. Bottas looked to outpace his teammate, but Maldonado was just behind him on the track and ended up moving on to Q2 by dropping his teammate. In the end, Hamilton (1:30.995) led Rosberg, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Vettel, Webber, Perez, Button, Sutil, and di Resta the top ten.

Knocked Out in Q1:
17. Valtteri Bottas
18. Esteban Gutierrez
19. Charles Pic
20.Jules Bianchi
21. Giedo van der Garde
22. Max Chilton

Webber led the way out for the fifteen minutes of Q2, with Sutil, di Resta, Maldonado, and Vergne soon following. Only Vettel, Button, Raikkonen, and Hulkenberg remained in the garage four minutes into the session. Webber (1:31.341) set the early benchmark, with Sutil less than a tenth slower, both on hard tyres. Di Resta, Grosjean, Vergne, and Maldonado set times five minutes into the session, but soon thereafter Rosberg took the lead again. Alonso’s first lap put him fourth fastest as many drivers were heading to the garage around halfway.

Rosberg (1:31.028) led Hamilton, Webber, Sutil, Alonso, Ricciardo, di Resta, Grosjean, Vergne, and Massa as the top ten at halfway. Maldonado was the only man in the knockout zone with a set time then, with Button Raikkonen, Perez, Vettel, and Hulkenberg also about to be relegated. Only Button and Raikkonen (who managed ninth) were on then on track. Button’s first time was good enough for eleventh, with Massa and Maldonado behind him on the timesheet.

Vettel and Perez joined the track with just under six minutes to go, while Hulkenberg still remained in the garage without a time. Mercedes seemed safe, but still prepped Rosberg to head back out. Vettel’s first fast lap looked strong, with a fastest of all first sector. He went fastest of all on the session, about a tenth faster than Rosberg. In the final two minutes, Vergne, Button, Massa, Maldonado, Perez, and Hulkenberg were about to be eliminated, with Massa still in the garage. He joined at the two minute mark, leaving only the Mercedes drivers in the garage.

Vettel rejoined the garage after his fast lap. Vergne looked on his way to getting out of the drop zone, but ran wide and remained eleventh. Teammate Ricciardo leapt up to third fastest. In the final seconds after the flag, di resta moved up to sixth, while Button dropped Vergne as Button managed tenth. He would not move forward as Raikkonen beat his time to make it on to Q3. Massa cold not better himself and also dropped out in Q2. At the end, Vettel (1:30.990) led Webber, Rosberg, Sutil, Ricciardo, Hamilton, di Resta, Alonso, Grosjean, and Raikkonen off to fight for pole in Q3.

Knocked Out in Q2:
11. Jenson Button
12. Felipe Massa
13. Jean-Eric Vergne
14. Sergio Perez
15. Nico Hulkenberg
16. Pastor Maldonado

Ricciardo led the way on used medium tyres, with Webber following on used ones for the ten minutes of Q3. All but Raikkonen were quickly on track in the first two minutes. Ricciardo (1:31.579) set the benchmark, while Webber soon beat him by less than a tenth. Rosberg bettered both of them, with Grosjean and Alonso separating the first two men to leave the garage. Hamilton (1:30.096) grabbed the provisional pole on his first fast lap, leading Rosberg, Webber, Vettel, Grosjean, Alonso, and Ricciardo at halfway. Di Resta, Sutil, and Raikkonen had none set times, though the Force India drivers had posted sector times.

Everyone returned to the garage after halfway. Raikkonen led the return to the circuit, with all the drivers out with two minutes remaining. Webber was fastest of all through the first sector, by a considerable margin. Hamilton equaled him to the tenth. Rosberg was fastest in the second sector, while Webber could not improve beyond second fastest on his only lap.

Rosberg beat his teammate, only to lose pole as Hamilton crossed the line after his teammate. Vettel popped up to third fastest to beat Webber, but neither Mercedes driver. Di Resta completed the top five starters, with a Briton and a Scotsman bookending the top five starters at Silverstone. Despite lapping on the medium, softer, tyre, Alonso could only manage tenth fastest.

Final Qualifying Times for the 2013 British Grand Prix:

1. Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:29.60712
2. Nico RosbergMercedes1:30.05912
3. Sebastian VettelRed Bull1:30.21114
4. Mark WebberRed Bull1:30.22015
5. Paul di RestaForce India1:30.73619
6. Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso1:30.75720
7. Adrian SutilForce India1:30.90817
8. Romain GrosjeanLotus1:30.95523
9. Kimi RaikkonenLotus1:30.96217
10. Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:30.97916
11. Jenson ButtonMcLaren1:31.64912
12. Felipe MassaFerrari1:31.77915
13. Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso1:31.78516
14. Sergio PerezMcLaren1:32.08215
15. Nico HulkenbergSauber1:32.21115
16. Pastor MaldonadoWilliams1:32.35918
17. Valtteri BottasWilliams1:32.66410
18. Esteban GutierrezSauber1:32.66611
19. Charles PicCaterham1:33.8666
20. Jules BianchiMarussia1:34.1088
21. Giedo van der Garde*Caterham1:35.4813
22. Max ChiltonMarussia1:35.85810

*ten place grid penalty post Canada


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