Lewis Hamilton takes Silverstone pole
Mercedes driver four tenths of a second quicker than team-mate Nico Rosberg
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton took pole for the 2013 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire
Lewis Hamilton had the home flags flying around Silverstone as he grabbed pole position for Sunday’s British Grand Prix.
Hamilton produced a storming performance around the Northamptonshire track by going quickest in all three sectors and finishing a stunning four tenths of a second faster than Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.
Following a wet, grey practice day on Friday, Hamilton emerged from his car bemoaning its lack of balance and claiming he could not recall the last time he was so uncomfortable.
Overnight, however, it appears the car has been transformed as the 28-year-old conjured the 29th pole of his Formula One career, and second with his new team this season.
Despite Mercedes’ dominance on a Saturday, come Sunday it has been a different story as the team have predominantly struggled for race pace and slipped down the field.
It is understood the Brackley-based marque have made considerable strides in recent weeks to correct the car’s faults when it comes to a race, and the essence of that will now be seen tomorrow.
It was also a stunning performance from Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo as he will start sixth ahead of Adrian Sutil in his Force India.
As for McLaren’s Jenson Button, his hopes of ending his podium hoodoo here show no sign of coming to fruition tomorrow as the 33-year-old will start 11th.
Button, yet to finish in the top three in 13 attempts at this track, only just missed out on a place in the top 10 by 0.057secs behind Raikkonen.
Despite that, Button said: “I’m higher than we expected to be. It’s been very difficult this weekend, but we changed a few things for qualifying and it was much better, although still not quick. Even if we’d qualified in the top 10 we would have been 10th in Q3 anyway. I don’t think we would have gone out.
“We should be positive we’ve improved the car, and you never know what might happen tomorrow.”
Team-mate Sergio Perez, who suffered a punctured tyre in the final hour-long practice session that scuppered his running, will start 14th.
Sandwiched in between are Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne, considerably behind the pace of Ricciardo as the duo battle for the upcoming vacancy at Red Bull.
Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg will line up 15th, with Pastor Maldonado 16th, the Venezuelan doing little to help Williams’ 600th grands prix celebrations go with a swing this weekend.
Come the end of the opening 20-minute session, to add to Williams’ woes, Valtteri Bottas could do no better than 17th, missing out on a place in Q2 by 0.146secs to Maldonado.
Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez, like Bottas without a point so far in his rookie season, failed to make it out of Q1 for the sixth time in eight qualifying sessions this season.
Caterham’s Charles Pic led the backmarkers and will start 19th, with Marussia’s Jules Bianchi 20th, finishing 1.7secs ahead of team-mate Max Chilton.
Although Chilton posted the slowest time, the 22-year-old will move up to 21st as Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde will drop to the final spot on the grid due to a five-place penalty incurred after running into Hulkenberg in Canada.
Hamilton, last on pole position at Silverstone in 2007, said: “This is incredible, it feels just like it did back then.
“To see the crowd here today is fantastic, such a great turn out, and that (lap) was for them. I hope we can do something special.”
Hamilton, though, appreciates tomorrow will not be as easy, adding: “I’ve not been feeling 100 per cent comfortable in the car so far this weekend so I was really glad to get a lap.
“But it’s going to be tough for us to keep Sebastian behind. Our long run pace has improved and I’m going to be pushing to give it my all.”
With Mercedes on fire over one lap as this is the team’s fifth pole in the last six races, Rosberg said: “It’s such a great feeling to go into qualifying and having such a great car.
“The team have done a great job to get us where we are now, and I’m confident we have improved for Sunday. Starting at the front will help, and hopefully we can get a great result.”
Vettel appreciated the fact he was in no position to challenge Hamilton for pole as he said: “Either Lewis found a short cut or he had something special. It was a phenomenal lap.
“So I’m honestly very happy today. We did what we could. Third place, with Mark right behind, it’s a good position to start from, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”