British GP Qualifying: Rosberg snatches pole as Hamilton falters

Nico Rosberg on his way to pole at Silverstone

Nico Rosberg on his way to pole at Silverstone

Nico Rosberg took his fourth pole position of the season in dramatic style at Silverstone , the German snatching top spot in the session in the final corners of his final lap in a rain-hit session that saw championship rival Lewis Hamilton finish sixth after abandoninghis final run.

Behind Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel claimed his first front row start since the Malaysian Grand Prix and Jenson Button grabbed a surprise third spot for McLaren at his and his team’s home race.

The session opened in relatively dry conditions and after banker laps on intermediate tyres, which left Hamilton in charge, ahead of Ricciardo. Throughout the opening laps, however, drivers were reporting that the track was dry enough for slick tyres.

Kobayashi was the first take on mediums but was soon back in the pits with a technical problem. The Japanese driver finished outside the 107 per cent cut-off, as did team-mate Marcus Ericsson.

Nico Rosberg celebrates in parc ferme

Nico Rosberg celebrates in parc ferme

The switch to slick rubber sparked a chaotic final few minutes as the field desperately tried to exploit the improved conditions. In the scramble for lap tyime it was perhaps inevitable that some would be caught out, either by traffic or by the conditions, as rain began to fall again in the closing moments.

The surprise was that it was Ferrari and Williams in trouble. Fernando Alonso spun on his final flyer and missed the cut, finish in 19th place, one ahead of Raikkonen, who had to abandon his run due to yellow flags brought out by spins elsewhere. Williams’ Valtteri Bottas was 17th, ahead of team-mate Felipe Massa, both drivers having wild slides during their final laps.

Elsewhere FP3’s quickest man, Sebastian Vettel scraped through in 16th, behind team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. Jenson Button was fortunate, too, making it through to Q2 in 14th place despite having his best lap deleted for exceeding track limits.

Top three in parc ferme after qualifying

Top three in parc ferme after qualifying

Q2 offered more uncertainty. The start of the segment was run on intermediate tyres following the shower at the end of Q1 but halfway through the track dried sufficiently for slicks to be used and again there was a scramble to put in a good lap.

This time though, no front-runners were caught out and eliminated were Romain Grosjean, Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton (who delivered an excellent performance for Marussia), Esteban Gutierrez, Pastor Maldonado and Adrian Sutil. It was a rough session for Sauber. Sutil did not take part in Q2 having spun out in Q1 and late in Q2 Gutierrez also spun off, the rear of his Sauber hitting the barriers hard.

Top spot in Q2 was occupied by Hamilton, the Briton recording a lap of 1:34.870, three tenths clear of team-mate Rosberg but a huge 1.4s ahead of third-placed Vettel.

The final session was as thrilling and surprising as the first. The timesheet after the first runs had a predictable look to it, with Hamilton on top ahead of Rosberg. But with five minutes to go the track conditions again became marginal. Button was told to pit and adopt a wait and see attitude.

Jenson Button will start his home race from third on the grid

Jenson Button will start his home race from third on the grid

When the time came to gamble or stay put however, some were once again caught out. Lewis Hamilton was one of them. The Briton went out but seemed to decide there was no time to be gained so abandoned his lap. Rosberg, by contrast, along with several others, felt differently.

Sebastian Vettel claimed provisional pole but Rosberg had yet to cross the line. When he did so the gap was huge, with the German having almost 1.4s over Vettel. Button was a surprise third for McLaren, with Nico Hulkenberg fourth for Force India. Kevin Magnussen completed a good day for McLaren by taking fifth place and Hamilton qualified sixth.

Seventh place went to Sergio Perez in the second Force India, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull. The final top 10 positions were filled by the Toro Rossos of Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Eric Vergne respectively.

Nico Rosberg celebrates his fourth pole position start of the season thus far

Nico Rosberg celebrates his fourth pole position of the season thus far

Qualifying quotes:

Nico Rosberg: “The tyres were still drying out so we lost time on the out lap. We sat in the garage and eventually came to the conclusion that we might as well go out out and have a look. Then it seemed like it was worth it because the last part of the lap was very dry. It was a great team effort.”

Sebastian vettel: “The start of Q3 we went out as one of last cars. We aborted the lap because it was impossible to set a decent time on the slick tyres. We sat in the garage waiting and eventually went out on dry tyres. We went out for one flying lap at the end – it was difficult to believe it was possible to find dry areas I think England is the only country where you get these sort of conditions but it worked out and it’s very positive for us to start from the front row.”

Jenson Button: “[Happy] like you could not believe” after qualifying third for his home race at Silverstone. It’s only third but for us after the last 18 months, we had no chance of getting this result. It’s nice to qualify so well in front of the home crowd.”

Nico Hulkenberg will start from fourth on the grid

Nico Hulkenberg will start from fourth on the grid

Nico Hulkenberg: “I have never felt a circuit dry up that quickly. First, I felt it was undriveable and the next minute I felt it was completely dry. It was hard to judge what was going on out there. On the out lap, I thought ‘oh gosh this is not going to work, let’s not crash the car’. I was the first car to set a lap time in the final part, so I was still suffering from a few damp patches, but it’s a good result and I hope tomorrow is a good day.”

Lewis Hamilton: “I don’t know, I don’t have much of an answer. I just decided not to do the lap. I don’t have anything to say to you at the moment.”

Kimi Raikkonen: “It started to rain half-way through the lap. It got too wet. So something went wrong, it’s hard to tell right now.”

Fernando Alonso: “We are here in the TV compound, two Ferrari drivers and two Williams drivers, it’s something we did wrong compared to other teams. We need to study what happened. We will start at the back, we have some overtaking to do and we will try to enjoy. We have nothing to lose.”

Lewis Hamilton's body language summed up his afternoon

Lewis Hamilton’s body language summed up his afternoon

Niki Lauda: “It was tricky in the end, we were both well in the lead, then we had to make a decision on whether we go out again. They both pushed to go out. Lewis thought the circuit was slower so he stopped, Nico kept going. It was Lewis’ decision because he thought he cannot go quicker but Nico proved you can go quicker and he was proved right. This time Nico was outstanding again to grab pole under these difficult conditions.”

Christian Horner: “Seb did a great job to get second. We didn’t think the track was going to be better. It wasn’t Dan’s decision, he just did what he was told. As a team we made the wrong call, but there are other teams who made worse calls today.” (GP247-F1 Media)

British Grand Prix, Qualifying – Saturday, 5 July 2014
Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:40.380 1:35.179 1:35.766 21
2 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:45.086 1:36.410 1:37.386 19
3 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:44.425 1:36.579 1:38.200 24
4 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:41.271 1:37.112 1:38.329 19
5 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:42.507 1:37.370 1:38.417 23
6 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:41.058 1:34.870 1:39.232 19
7 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:42.146 1:37.350 1:40.457 20
8 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:44.710 1:38.166 1:40.606 18
9 26 Daniil Kvyat STR-Renault 1:41.032 1:36.813 1:40.707 21
10 25 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Renault 1:43.040 1:37.800 1:40.855 21
11 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:43.121 1:38.496 17
12 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1:41.169 1:38.709 17
13 4 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1:42.082 1:39.800 14
14 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:43.285 1:40.912 16
15 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1:43.892 1:44.018 15
16 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:42.603 No time 8
17 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:45.318 5
18 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:45.695 5
19 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:45.935 6
20 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:46.684 7
21 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1:49.421 7
22 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1:49.625 8
Q1 107% Time 1:47.406