The six-time world champion posted a new lap record at Silverstone to finish Q3 in front of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who is the only other driver to record a victory so far this year.
It will be the 71st edition of the famous race – seeing it move out of a tie with the Italian Grand Prix for most appearances on the Formula One calendar – and Mercedes are chasing a seventh win since 2013 at the track.
No driver has done so more often at the venue than Hamilton, with six to his name. He will be a red-hot favourite to add to that tally on Sunday and, in the process, extend his advantage in the drivers’ standings.
Can anyone not named Bottas possibly deny the Briton yet another home triumph?
WHAT HAPPENED IN QUALIFYING
There were two battles going on during qualifying. While the Mercedes duo contested pole, the rest battled it out to decide the order behind the obvious front row.
Hamilton did have cause for concern when he spun in Q2, yet recovered impressively to set a new lap record in the next session – a time he then bettered on his final attempt as he finished 0.313 seconds clear of Bottas.
Worryingly for those hoping to see another team mount a challenge, Max Verstappen was over a second adrift in third place in his Red Bull, with team-mate Alex Albon struggling to 12th.
Ferrari received a much-needed boost as Charles Leclerc claimed fourth place, though Sebastian Vettel’s struggles continued. The German was slowest of the group involved in Q3 after having his fastest time deleted and will start the race on the softer tyres compared to his team-mate, too.
Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz were fifth and seventh respectively for McLaren, Racing Point’s Lance Stroll splitting the pair. Meanwhile, Nico Hulkenberg – summoned to make a comeback at short notice to stand in for Sergio Perez, who tested positive for COVID-19 – will start from 13th position.
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) August 1, 2020
THE STARTING GRID
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
5. Lando Norris (McLaren) 6. Lance Stroll (Racing Point)
7. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) 8. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)
9. Esteban Ocon (Renault) 10. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
11. Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri) 12. Alex Albon (Red Bull)
13. Nico Hulkenberg (Racing Point) 14. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
15. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) 16. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
17. Romain Grosjean (Haas) 18. Daniil Kvyat (Alpha Tauri)
19. Nicholas Latifi (Williams) 20. George Russell (Williams)
BRITISH GRAND PRIX TALKING POINTS
Hamilton clearly relishes the chance to drive in his own back yard. While there will be no crowd to cheer him on due to these unprecedented times, he is racing for the chance of yet more history.
A 91st career pole has him primed to break clear of a tie with Alain Prost for the most victories by a driver at a home race. In terms of the season as a whole, Mercedes are turning the constructors’ title into a procession, such is their complete dominance.
“I guess we’re not making many new friends,” team principal Toto Wolff said afterwards. Of course, it is all about gathering points to win the prizes, rather than a popularity contest, but the rest of the paddock should be seriously concerned by what they have seen from the Silver Arrows so far.
Still, the most successful team historically at Silverstone has been Ferrari, albeit they seem a way off competing this time. The Scuderia have recorded just one podium finish in the opening three races, their worst start to a campaign since 2014.
— Aston Martin Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) August 1, 2020
WHAT THE DRIVERS SAID
Lewis Hamilton (pole): “Valtteri was pushing me right to the end. It was a real struggle out there. We had that spin, I was struggling through the first section. I managed to compose myself. The first Q3 lap was clean and the second was even better. We’re still powering ahead, we’re not resting on the performance that we have, we’re trying to push the boundaries and the limits and that’s the most impressive thing about this team.”
Valtteri Bottas (2nd): “For me, the balance was shifting more and more towards oversteer as the session went on. Maybe the track temperature was getting high, I don’t know. He [Hamilton] had a great lap in the end, a better lap than mine. It’s still very close between us in the championship points, so of course I’m going to do everything I can and of course will look overnight with the engineers what we can do and if there’s anything different I can do. Last year [Hamilton won from second] with a pretty different strategy to mine [from pole].”
Max Verstappen (3rd): “I had a pretty good qualifying lap and starting third gives us the chance to fight for a good race result. We just hope to have a clean start and from there onwards I just try to do the best I can in the car and if that is just try to follow them a bit, we can be happy with that and score some points.”
Lando Norris (5th): “It was very difficult with the wind – the cars are so sensitive. I’m very happy – it was better than I thought I could do. I think we out-qualified a few cars that are quicker than us, but that is only going to make Sunday’s race more difficult. We have to convert it into a good result at my home race.”
Sebastian Vettel (10th): “I struggled to find the rhythm. The car was not too bad, but it didn’t fit me. We made it to Q3, but with the wrong tyre, and then we didn’t make enough progress in Q3, so not a good day. We have to start with the soft tyre, which is probably not good news. Nevertheless, I’ll try everything I can, we’ll see what we could get.”
Nico Hulkenberg (13th): “I feel there was more potential and I didn’t get everything, but given the circumstances it is also very hard. I don’t know if you can expect to get 100 per cent from the car. We were so close to making it to Q3, and I’m happy with that considering I’ve come in from the cold this weekend! It’s a big ask after eight months away to come back and jump into a completely different environment – and into a Formula One car I’ve never driven before and immediately perform with a challenging circuit and conditions.”
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 63
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 58
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 33
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 26
5= Alex Albon (Red Bull) – 22
5= Sergio Perez (Racing Point) – 22
1. Mercedes – 121
2. Red Bull – 55
3. McLaren – 41
4. Racing Point – 40
5. Ferrari – 27
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