Silverstone is home to the British Grand Prix. It’s been that way for many years and it has also been the happy hunting ground of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. The 4-time champion is gunning for his 6th win at his home track but there was a bit of mystery heading into qualifying.
Most presumed that Mercedes would look dominant this weekend but practice sessions on Friday and Saturday morning suggested that Ferrari may not be out the picture for potential upset given their pace. Were Mercedes running with de-tuned engines? Was the fuel loads playing a role in the overall pace? Perhaps only qualifying would tell but regardless of who was on pole, there was also the thought that race pace may be something else entirely. Only Sunday’s race could tell us that. Mercedes hadn’t been beaten in qualifying or races here since 2012 so there was a lot of questions to be answered.
Due to a big crash during FP3, Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley did not start qualifying. His teammate Pierre Gasly was first out for his initial lap to test out the FIA mandated replaced front suspension after Hartley suspension failure.
Williams F1’s Lance Stroll ended his first attempt rather quickly as he ran off track and stalled in the gravel causing a red flag for the session. That’s the 7th time in 10 races that Stroll has been out in Q1.
The session restarted with 14:00 minutes left and Sauber’s Charles Leclerc was first out followed by a train of cars trying to hurry and get their laps in. Like a carbon copy, Williams F1’s second driver, Sergey Sirotkin, took his car off and into the gravel but he managed to keep it rolling and limped back to the pits. A quick look into the garage showed a concerned Claire Williams but thankfully Sergey was not wearing shorts.
Initial runs found Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel set a new track record. Hamilton and Bottas followed and with a track temperature of over 120 degrees F may be playing into the pace equation for the top two teams. Mercedes on the medium tire.
Out in Q1- Stroll, Sirotkin, Hartley, Vandoorne, Sainz (first time out of top 10 this year)
The session started with Mercedes immediately out with Bottas and Hamilton on soft tires as well as both Ferraris. Bottas set initial time and a track record at 1:26.413 but Vettel answered with a new record with a 1:26.372. Raikkonen was third fastest on initial runs. Hamilton set a quick second sector and slotted in on top of the chart with a track record at 1:26.256.
The Red Bulls and Haas F1 cars slotted 5th through 8th and it was left for the Force India’s and Sauber to battle for the top 10. The cars made their final runs and Mercedes both went out despite being comfortably at the top of the time sheets.
Out in Q2- Gasly, Alonso, Perez, Ericsson, Hulkenberg
Ferrari were the first out in Q3 on soft tires with Kimi Raikkonen followed by Mercedes on soft’s as well. Q2 suggested that Mercedes may still have the pace to take pole and Lewis Hamilton on a good lap could claim his sixth pole but Ferrari were keen to prevent it.
Banker laps put Lewis and Bottas in 2nd and 3rd but it was Ferrari’s Vettel who took provisional pole with a record-breaking 1:25.936 and a new lap record. Have Ferrari managed to show up with upgrades and performance they lacked in Austria?
Final laps found Lewis asking for a possible tow from another car on track. Lewis was looking for a tenth or two on his final lap. His middle sector was quickest and he took provisional pole. Vettel had no answer for Lewis’s pole run and neither did Raikkonen. It was Lewis’s 6th pole position and a great moment for British motorsport. Lewis had to dig deep as Ferrari had the pace to challenge them over one lap. The big questions remained, what about the long-run race pace? That will be resolved tomorrow.
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m26.602s||0.710s|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m27.099s||1.207s|
|10||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m28.194s||2.302s|
|12||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m27.928s||2.036s|
|14||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m28.343s||2.451s|
|20||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||–||–|