Mercedes-AMG F1 have dominated qualifying around the iconic Silverstone circuit for the 2020 British Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton dominated the pack with record-setting times to claim pole position for Sunday’s race ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas who will start alongside him on the front row in second. Max Verstappen in the Red Bull was significantly far behind to claim third place on the grid ahead of Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari. However, in case you have not followed the British Grand Prix weekend, you must know that Sergio Perez has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been forced to sit out for the weekend. Replacing him temporarily at Racing Point is none other than former Renault and Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg who was summoned at the very last minute and arrived at the paddock with a couple of hours to spare before free practice started on Friday.
In Qualifying 1, the first session saw Valtteri Bottas set the pace in the Mercedes. Although it was worth noting that Hulkenberg who was fifth fastest ahead of both Ferraris showing the German has still got it in him after leaving the sport after last season. However, the slowest five drivers of the session were Kevin Magnussen, Antonio Giovinazzi, Kimi Raikkonen, Romain Grosjean and Nicolas Latifi who were eliminated and did not move on to Q2. However, George Russell who made it through to Q2 is under investigation for not slowing down under yellow flags through Sector 2 after his Williams team-mate Latifi spun off the track on his final hot lap.
Q2 is where the tyre strategies started to factor in as the drivers who make it through to Q1 will have to start the race on the same set. Almost all drivers decided to use the medium compound tyres for their first run which is expected to be the optimum tyres for the race, but Ferrari split their strategy sending Vettel out on the red marked softs. On his first run, Bottas set the fastest time setting a new track record. Meanwhile his team-mate Hamilton lost the rear end on his hot lap on the exit of Luffield and spun his Mercedes destroying his lap. Hamilton’s spin also threw up a significant amount of gravel on the track for which the session was red-flagged with 8:50 seconds to go.
When the session resumed, Hamilton was the first to head out and secure himself into the top-10 with a new set of medium tyres, but was second fastest and was unable to match the record-breaking time by Bottas.
On their second run, drivers at risk of being eliminated tried to use softer tyres. But Pierre Gasly was eliminated after setting the same exact time as Lance Stroll. Stroll was classified as 10th fastest as he set the time first, ending Gasly’s run for the day for Alpha Tauri. Alex Albon also missed out on Q3 for Red Bull while Nico Hulkenberg failed to capitalise on his momentum from Q1 and will start the race from 13th for Racing Point. Daniil Kvyat was 14th fastest n the second Alpha Tauri but will take a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change leaving him to start behind Romain Grosjean in 19th. This means that George Russel in the Williams will start 14th on the gird on Sunday.
In the final session, all 10 drivers set their first hop laps and this time of the soft compounds. Hamilton shattered Bottas’ track record time with a 1:24.616 claiming provisional pole which Bottas was unable to beat on his first run. But the provisional top-10 had Mercedes on the front row, with Verstappen and Stroll sharing the second row. Ferraris on row three in fifth and 6th ahead often two McLarens and the two Renaults.
On their final run, Hamilton went even faster to set another record-breaking lap with a 1:24.303. But his Mercedes-team-mate, Bottas was unable to match that after a poor middle sector but managed to stay second-fastest allowing Mercedes to claim the front row of the grid. Verstappen was a full second off Hamilton’s pace and will start the race from third ahead of the lead Ferrari of Charles Leclerc in fourth. McLaren’s Lando Norris pipped Racing Point’s Lance Stroll for fifth place on the grid with stroll set to start from sixth. Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo, Esteban Ocon qualified seventh, eighth and ninth respectively, but Sebastian Vettel will start from 10th for Ferrari.
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