Once again, Mercedes were the dominant force in qualifying for the British Grand Prix, with Louis Hamilton snatching pole at the end of an action packed session discounted laps had just as much as an impact as those which counted.
The stewards, led by former World Champion Nigel Mansell, had stated before the race that they were going to be strict in regards to cars leaving the track, and were willing to discount laps where drivers were outside the white lines. In Q1 they set their marks down, with both Renaults having their initial runs scrubbed due to having all 4 wheels off the track.
With Eriksson’s horror crash this morning meaning he wasn’t present for qualifying, 5 drivers were fighting for a place in Q2. The other Sauber of Nasr was one of those who failed to progress, with a messy lap leaving him last in the session. The Manor drivers finished 19th and 20th, with Rio Haryanto’s experience of Silverstone paying off. However, the big shock was the elimination of Jenson Button, finishing 17th after being out qualified by Kevin Magnusson and Danill Kvyat in the last seconds of the session.
Yet the gap between sessions proved even more dramatic than the session. Button, on his way to another disappointed interview, found himself sprinting back down the pit and into Q2, as Magnusson’s final time was believed to have been scrubbed due to the car leaving the track. Alas for Jenson, this was not the case, and thus Button suffered the pain of being eliminated twice.
Meanwhile at the front, Rosberg and Hamilton continued to knock more time off their already impressive performances, with Rosberg being the first to drop below 1.30. However Hamilton followed closely with a 1.29.243, 7 tenths ahead of his teammate. Behind them, the Red Bull and Ferrari battle started to heat up, with Vettel splitting the two Red Bulls for the second session in a row.
It was nearly disaster for Raikkonen however, after spinning on his first outlap, and then running wide at turn 3 on his second run. With no time to pit and put fresh tyres on, he had to gamble on a one lap session on the less than optimum wheels, managing to finish 6th for the session.
However, poor sessions from Massa (12th
) and Kvyat (15th
) meant only 1 Williams and Toro Rosso made it to Q3, with Perez also missing out by a fraction in 11th
. Neither Haas could find the pace, with Grosjean one place above Gutierrez in 13th
. Magnusson only did one lap, and was far adrift of everyone else in 16th.
As usual, the Mercedes were out early in Q3, and it was Hamilton who put the early marker down for pole, his 1.29.339 being 0.267 ahead of Rosberg. However, this was scrubbed for going too wide at Copse The two Red Bulls followed, with the Ferrari’s behind – Vettel initially polling 5th after a huge slide.
With just one shot at pole then, Hamilton managed to pull through a huge sector 3 time to steal away the pole from Rosberg, who couldn’t improve on his 2nd run. Behind him, The Red Bulls locked out row 2, with Ricciardo beaten in qualifying by his teammate for the first time this season. Raikkonen celebrated his contract renewal with a fine 5th, just ahead of Sebastien Vettel, who’s grid penalty moves him down to 11th. Therefore Bottas moves to 6th for tomorrows race.