Lewis Hamilton has qualified on pole position for the eleventh time this season and none were as crucial as this. Rosberg has won the previous two events from pole with Hamilton possibly faster during the race but unable to overtake the German.
Going into the session Hamilton needed to claim pole at a track he’s not done so since 2012 and one that he’s never won at. Realistically he has to win tomorrow to keep his title chances alive.
Q1 got underway with menacing clouds over the circuit and a reported high chance of rain. The drivers were eager to get going with the Mercs, a Manor and the Haas cars queuing before the start.
Before the start of the session it was reported that Vettel was unlikely to take part because of a floor issue. However, the Ferrari mechanics did an excellent job and he got out in plenty of time to go fifth in the first session.
The big surprise of Q1 was the departure of Jenson Button. The 2009 World Champion was complaining of an issue and was suffering with snap oversteer in the slow corners, he qualified in P17. A disappointing result given that his teammate was in the top 10. Also out were the Renault of Kevin Magnussen, the Manors and Saubers.
Q2 started in much the same way that Q1 did, the threat of rain very much there and the Mercs leading the pack out. The silver arrows were the class of the field, always a good half a second or more ahead of everybody else. Rather strangely, though, they chose not to attempt to qualify on the medium tyres (the middle compound this weekend). Perhaps they are banking on rain tomorrow, or they didn’t want to take the risk as the delta is quite large around this track.
It was a very underwhelming performance by Williams, both drivers failed to make it into Q3 and both Force Indias did. Their battle with the Silverstone team looks like one that they might well lose. There were no great shocks in Q2 in terms of eliminated drivers with Palmer, Gutierrez, the Williams and the Toro Rosso cars all failing to make the cut.
That left the Mercs, the Red Bulls, the Ferraris, the Force Indias, Grosjean and Alonso’s McLaren to fight it out for pole position.
With the threat of substantial rain continuing to loom Hamilton again lead the pack out into Q3 and again Rosberg was tailing him. Hamilton set a 1:10.8, Rosberg two tenths behind. When it was time for their second runs both were going purple, nobody can accuse Rosberg of attempting to coast to this championship. But when it counted the World Champion came out on top, a 1:10.736 earns him the number 1 grid slot.
Despite Verstappen shadowing the Mercedes cars throughout most of qualifying it was Kimi Raikkonen who qualified an excellent third.
The Dutch teenager will join him on the second row with Vettel and Ricciardo lining up behind him. A shout-out should also go to Grosjean as he qualified a very impressive seventh in a Haas car that is usually poor over one lap.
Hamilton topped two of the three free practices and every qualifying session. He’s also claimed his 60th pole position, a staggering number. He’s now just five behind his idol, Ayrton Senna and only eight behind the record holder, Michael Schumacher.
Speaking of records, Mercedes have now broke the record for the most poles in one season with 19, incredible consistency from the German manufacturers.
With the threat of rain even larger for tomorrow we should have a cracking race.
P1: Hamilton – 1:10.736
P2: Rosberg +0.102
P3: Raikkonen +0.668
P4: Verstappen +0.749
P5: Vettel +0.759
P6: Ricciardo +0.804
P7: Grosjean +1.201
P8: Hulkenberg +1.368
P9: Perez +1.429
P10: Alonso +1.530
P11: Bottas – 1:12.420 (Q2)
P12: Gutierrez – 1:12.431
P13: Massa – 1:12.521
P14: Kvyat – 1:12.726
P15: Sainz – 1:12.920
P16: Palmer – 1:13.258
P17: Button – 1:13.276 (Q1)
P18: Magnussen – 1:13.410
P19: Wehrlein – 1:13.427
P20: Ocon – 1:13.422
P21: Ericsson – 1:13.623
P22: Nasr – 1:13.681