Lewis Hamilton went fastest in dramatic fashion during qualifying for the British Grand Prix, edging out Max Verstappen by 0.075 seconds.
Shifted into an unusual Friday evening slot to accommodate Sprint Qualifying, which takes place on Saturday, Hamilton went quickest on his first lap in Q3, with both him and Verstappen failing to improve on their second attempts.
This does not count as a pole position, but it puts the 36-year-old in a strong position to hit back after Verstappen claimed victory at the last three races in a row.
Valtteri Bottas was third, having given Hamilton a tow throughout qualifying, with Charles Leclerc an impressive fourth for Ferrari.
Lewis Hamilton goes fastest in qualifying!
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 16, 2021
Speaking after the session, Hamilton said: “We have been missing this for a whole year. I’m so grateful to see everyone here – we’ve missed you for a whole year.
“To come to the Silverstone grand prix and have a full crowd like this, you see the energy and when I was coming into it with the great work we’ve done together in the team plus the energy of the fans would give us there. This is down to the fans I think.
“That first lap was great. The second one was looking even better but just lost the back end in that last corner, so my heart was in my mouth as I crossed the line. But I could see the crowd and it was really reminiscent of my first pole here in 2007.”
Verstappen cut a frustrated figure afterwards but remains in a good spot ahead of Sprint Qualifying.
“We just need to look at ourselves,” he said. “The car is handling quite well, but a lot of understeer – so I couldn’t attack any corners but a bit of a weird feeling to have. I don’t think it was set-up or front wing related, it’s still quite close so it will be alright.
“You do qualifying and are flat out and doesn’t mean so much and you don’t get pole – it’s a weird feeling.”
Sergio Perez was cut adrift of his teammate in fifth, while Lando Norris just edging his teammate Daniel Ricciardo to sixth position.
George Russell was brilliant in qualifying once again as he managed to go eighth quickest, with Carlos Sainz and Sebastian Vettel rounding out the top 10.
— Williams Racing (@WilliamsRacing) July 16, 2021
Fernando Alonso was eliminated in Q2 for Alpine after being pipped by Russell in the closing stages of the session, with Pierre Gasly unable to emulate his recent qualifying excellence in 12th.
Esteban Ocon finished a place back in 13th, a slight improvement for the Frenchman after a tough couple of weeks at the Red Bull Ring, while Antonio Giovinazzi was 14th for Alfa Romeo. Lance Stroll will start Sprint Qualifying in 15th, beaten by more than a half a second by teammate Vettel.
Yuki Tsunoda just missed out on Q2, with the Japanese rookie finishing up 0.026 seconds adrift of a spot in the second part of qualifying. The 21-year-old has been improved in recent weeks, but will have to make progress in tomorrow’s sprint race if he wants to move up the grid before Sunday’s Grand Prix.
Kimi Raikkonen was 17th, outqualified by teammate Giovinazzi once again, while Nicholas Latifi was 18th for Williams at the team’s home race.
Mick Schumacher got the better of Nikita Mazepin in qualifying for the ninth time this season, with the Haas drivers 19th and 20th respectively, not for the first time this season.