British Grand Prix Qualifying: Hamilton storms to pole on home soil

Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for his home grand prix

Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for his home grand prix

Lewis Hamilton declared before the British Grand Prix weekend that his head was in a better space, and duly proved it by storming to pole position for his home race at Silverstone, as Mercedes annexed the front row with Nico Rosberg second fastest.

In fact the smart money would have been on Rosberg doing the business in qualifying as he appeared to have the edge over Hamilton during the the free practice sessions. Hamilton even went as far as to admit that he was struggling to find the comfort zone in the cockpit.

But when it mattered Hamilton dug deep, perhaps inspired by the partisan crowd urging him on, to snatch pole with his final lap after Rosberg had knocked him off the top perch, albeit briefly.

The only other time Hamilton started from pole on home soil was in his rookie year, in 2007 when he started from top spot for McLaren At the time it was only his 3rd Formula 1 career pole, this time around it was his 28th top spot start.

Mercedes, with their W04, have the quickest car over a single lap or on short runs and this has been the case  since for a number of races now. However their race pace and ability to nurture tyres has let them down. A sure sign of a step forward for the Silver Arrows will be their ability now to translate an all silver front row start to one-two on the podium.

Lewis Hamilton celebrates after claiming pole position for the British GP

Lewis Hamilton celebrates after claiming pole position for the British GP

Hamilton, who was the only driver to dip below the 90 second mark. soaked up the moment, “It’s an incredible feeling – it feels like [his previous Silverstone pole] 2007. The crowd have been great – such a great turnout – that was a lap for them. I hope we can do something special in the race. It’s phenomenal because I haven’t been feeling 100% comfortable in the car.”

“The support has been incredible. Big thank you – it means the world to me to be able to put it on the front row for them. This is the first year I had a car to put it where I wanted to put it.”

“I think it’ll be tough tomorrow – we have not made huge strides in race pace, but our long-run pace has not been so far off. In Montreal we were half a second off the Red Bull and Ferrari, but here it was not as big a deficit. I’m just going to gun it tomorrow and hope for the best.”

Credit to Rosberg for pushing hard all the way, pole was his momentarily until his teammate snatched it by a big chunk of time.

Nico Rosberg and pole sitter Lewis Hamilton in parc ferme after qualifying

Nico Rosberg and pole sitter Lewis Hamilton in parc ferme after qualifying

“It’s definitely a great feeling to have the fastest car and the Mercedes team did a great job. We are confident we have improved and some of the other cars may be better than us but finishing top two can only be good for us,” said Rosberg.

He added, “I’ve got mixed emotions as I would love to have finished ahead of my team-mate. But it’s a great feeling to go into the race with such a good car. Handling hasn’t been the best but the car has been very quick. As a team we are doing a great job.”

“We are making progress with our tyre management but know that some other teams are maybe better. I hope that eventually we can do races as quickly as we have been doing qualifying.”

Best of the rest were the Red Bull pair with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber ending the session third and fourth respectively, ensuring an all Red Bull second row. With a strong race pace and proven winning track record this season, they must fancy their chances of overturning the Mercedes advantage in race trim.

Top three in parc ferme after qualifying

Top three in parc ferme after qualifying

Vettel said afterwards, “We will see what happens tomorrow. It is a long race. I’m honestly very happy today. I don’t know if Lewis [Hamilton] found a short cut or he just found something special here – it was a phenomenal lap. It is always nice to position well in qualifying here. I am looking forward to the race tomorrow and we will see how we are with looking after tyres.”

Paul di Resta, another driver inspired to be on home turf, will start from fifth as Force Ibndia showed strong pace throughout the weekend which also translated into a solid qualifying performance across the road from their factory. Adrian Sutil was seventh fastest.

“I think I will sleep quite well tonight,” said Di Resta. “A lot of work to be done but a great result for the boys on home soil. The stands were full, the sun finally came out to play and hopefully we can score some good points tomorrow.”

Splitting the Force India pair, was Daniel Ricciardo who will start sixth in the Toro Rosso. The young Australian, by design or coincidence, timing his good form perfectly as he is very much in the spotlight in the wake of Webber’s decision to quit F1 at the end of 2013 and in so doing making available one of the most coveted race seats in motorsport.

Ricciardo’s heroics on the day will not have gone unnoticed. His teammate Jean Eric Vergne, also a candidate for promotion to partner Vettel, failed to make it beyond Q2 and will start 13th.

Daniel Ricciardo was impressive in the Toro Rosso

Daniel Ricciardo was impressive in the Toro Rosso

“It has been looking pretty good. The first two days have gone well. It is nice to confirm the speed we have,” said Ricciardo afterwards.

Romain Grosjean was the quicker of the Lotus duo, setting the eighth best time with Kimi Raikkonen ninth fastest – the difference between the boys in black and gold a mere 0.007 seconds!

Rounding out the top ten was Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari. Clearly the Maranello squad have not progressed with their latest development of the F138. Both drivers struggled, Felipe Massa more so than Alonso.

“We were not competitive all weekend and it’s not normal to see Ferrari out of Q3. We need to recover now and it was a bad Saturday. We didn’t improve the car enough in the last four to five races and we ordered some new parts but they didn’t do what we expected. We need to keep on working,” reflected Alonso.

It was also a forgettable day for two legendary British teams, as both Williams and Mclaren were woefully off the pace and never really in Q3 contention.

Fernando Alonso will start from tenth

Fernando Alonso will start from tenth

Williams are celebrating their 600th race weekend, and simply do not have the car for their drivers to make the most of a momentous occasion. Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas toiled hard for the meagre reward of 16th and 17th on the grid.

For McLaren the situation was almost as dire, as both drivers headed off for an early shower having failed to make it into Q3 for the second time in a two races. Jenson Button will start from 11th and Sergio Perez from 14th.

Button tried to see the bright side of a bleak scenario,  “It is quite surprising with the way the car felt. It was very difficult getting the tyres working correctly. It is not great but it is a little less bad, is probably the right way to say it. If we had qualified into Q3 we would probably have been P10 so it is not so bad.” (GP247)

British Grand Prix, Qualifying – Saturday, 29 June 2013

Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:30.995 1:31.224 1:29.607 12
2 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:31.355 1:31.028 1:30.059 12
3 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:31.559 1:30.990 1:30.211 14
4 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:31.605 1:31.002 1:30.220 15
5 14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:32.062 1:31.291 1:30.736 19
6 19 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:32.097 1:31.182 1:30.757 20
7 15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:32.002 1:31.097 1:30.908 17
8 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:31.466 1:31.530 1:30.955 23
9 7 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:31.400 1:31.592 1:30.962 17
10 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:32.266 1:31.387 1:30.979 16
11 5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:31.979 1:31.649 12
12 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:32.241 1:31.779 15
13 18 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:32.105 1:31.785 16
14 6 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:31.953 1:32.082 15
15 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:32.168 1:32.211 15
16 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:32.512 1:32.359 18
17 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:32.664 10
18 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:32.666 11
19 20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1:33.866 6
20 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:34.108 8
21 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:35.481 3
22 23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:35.858 10
Q1 107% Time 1:37.364
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