Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz took pole position at Silverstone, setting him up for the best starting position in tomorrow’s British Grand Prix. A tense and exciting session saw Verstappen end up second with the second Ferrari of Leclerc in third place.
A properly soaking wet track awaited the drivers for qualifying, making for a completely different situation compared to FP3 where everybody enjoyed sunny conditions and a dry track.
With fuel weight and hence load less important, but opportunities to discover the track all the more, cars were queuing at the end of the pitlane to get going. Albon was the first to get on track. The Williams drivers did a fairly solid time but was topped by the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers quickly. Verstappen did even better than that another minute later as it came clear that conditions quickly improved and drivers started to become more confident with the conditions in the following laps.
While everyone was still in awe by Verstappen’s 1.7s improvement, Leclerc shared off another 2.7s 15 seconds later.
The Alpines and Astons only joined the action around 5 minutes later in the session. Alonso was the fastest of the four in their first timed laps, but it wasn’t impressive at all with 11th place, one that soon degraded to 16th. The next laps were better as Ocon jumped to 9th and Alonso to 5th.
At the very front, it was Verstappen who seemed to get the upper edge in the second half of Q1. Leclerc eventually ended up second fastest ahead of Russell, Sainz, Hamilton, Perez, the two Alfa Romeos, Norris and Alonso.
Latifi surprised friend and enemy by going 15th fastest, eliminating his Williams teammate who was running the updated car contrary to Latifi’s older specification. Both Haas and Aston Martins joined him in the parking lot and were finished for the day.
In Q2, everybody opted to fit new intermediates and soon it was again Verstappen who was fastest. Mercedes appeared strong too while Ferrari did what Alpine did in the first part of qualifying by going out a bit later, probably trying to get an advantage towards the end of the session with somewhat fresher intermediate tyres.
5 minutes from the end of Q2, Leclerc reported tricky conditions that didn’t seem to improve anymore. Indeed, Ocon struggled to improve and get away from 15th while Verstappen missed Turn 3. Verstappen then returned to the pits just like Hamilton, Leclerc, Sainz, Russell and Alonso as they all realised improvements were becoming difficult.
Positions were indeed fixed despite more attempts by Gasly, Bottas, Tsunoda, Ricciardo and Ocon, but all were out, meaning Latifi added to the surprise by making it into Q3.
As track conditions seemingly improved again during the short break ahead of Q3, both Ferrari drivers lined up to take the track first, followed by Verstappen, Norris and Zhou. Drivers were soon told more rain was coming while asking them to push ahead as it was unclear when the track conditions would be best.
So they did, but Verstappen truly overcooked his first flying lap. He wobbled off the track before even starting his flyer and then halfway in the lap made a spin. As he started his second lap, Alonso went fastest on his first attempt though Leclerc and Hamilton topped the Spanish Alpine driver.
Verstappen’s second lap was strong but in the penultimate corner he again went off track and ended up in second at 0.043. The Dutchman went on for a third lap and finally did a decent one to top the times, just ahead of Hamilton while Russell slotted into third.
As times tumbled, Leclerc, Alonso and Sainz found themselves in 6th, 7th and 8th with just 3 minutes left on the clock. The Spaniard recovered to third, just 0.122s off of Verstappen.
Ferrari then took charge with Sainz going fastest, then Norris, then Leclerc but then Verstappen turned the table yet again to go fastest once more.
Sainz then went even faster to go fastest, a time Verstappen could not beat anymore, despite another improvement. Leclerc ended up third, followed by Perez, Hamilton, Norris, Alonso, Russell and Zhou. Latifi completed the top 10 22 seconds off the pole time while the top 8 were all within 1.178 seconds.
One can only hope that Sunday’s race will be as spectacular and tense as today’s wet qualifying. Same time, same place…
|2||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:39.129||1:40.655||1:41.055||23|
|4||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:40.521||1:42.513||1:41.616||26|
|6||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:41.515||1:41.821||1:42.084||26|
|7||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:41.598||1:42.209||1:42.116||23|
|9||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:40.791||1:42.640||1:42.719||28|
|10||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:41.998||1:43.273||2:03.095||24|
|11||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:41.680||1:43.702||19|
|12||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:41.396||1:44.232||20|
|13||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:41.893||1:44.311||19|
|14||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:41.933||1:44.355||18|
|15||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:41.730||1:45.190||17|
|16||23||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||1:42.078||11|
|17||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:42.159||11|
|18||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:42.666||9|
|19||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:42.708||11|
|20||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:43.430||10|