Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton will start Formula 1’s first sprint qualifying race from the front of the grid after he beat Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen in Friday qualifying at the British Grand Prix. Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas will start third ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
In the opening phase of Q1 it was Verstappen who set the pace, with the Dutchman jumping to the top of the timesheet thanks to a lap of 1:16.751, despite a nervous moment in the final corner. That put the championship leader four tenths of a second ahead of Hamilton, with Bottas almost four tenths further back in third.
Verstappen stayed in the garage for the final run, but team-mate Sergio Pérez headed out for a second attempt as his opening time left him in P13 in the final moments of the segment. However, the Mexican put in an excellent final lap of 1:27.121 to jump to P4 at the flag, just behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. Hamilton also went for a final run and his 1:26.786, just 0.015s slower than Verstappen showed that the session would be hard fought.
Eliminated at the end of Q1 were AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda in P16 ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen, Williams’ Nicholas Latifi and the Haas cars of Mick Schumacher and 20th-placed Nikita Mazepin.
Verstappen was again on top at the end of the opening run of Q2. Hamilton set the early benchmark with a lap of 1:26.602 but within moments Verstappen was across the line just under a tenth clear of the Mercedes driver. Bottas lay in third place after the first runs almost two tenths behind his Mercedes team-mate, while Pérez was fourth, two tenths further back.
On his final run of the session Hamilton lit up the timesheet with purple times in every sector and he took P1 with a time of 1:26.023. Verstappen improved too, but he settled for P2 with a final flyer of 1:26.315.
Ruled out at the end of the middle segment though were Alpine’s Fernando Alonso in P11 ahead of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, the second Alpine of Esteban Ocon, Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll.
Hamilton took P1 in the first run of Q3 thanks to a lap of 1:26.134, 0.172 ahead of Verstappen, who complained that his car was suffering from “oversteer to the moon”. The balance issues heaped pressure on the Dutchman in the final run and though Hamilton went wide in Sector 3 on his final flying lap, the Dutch driver couldn’t wrestle enough time out of his RB16B on his final flying lap and he was forced to settle for P2, between the two Mercedes cars.
Pérez’s final flyer put him into fourth place behind Bottas but the Mexican’s time was deleted for a track limits violation. That meant he was leapfrogged by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and the Red Bull driver will start the Sprint at the front of row three, in fifth place.
Pérez will be joined on the third row of the grid by Lando Norris. The McLaren driver took sixth place just 0.002s ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. George Russell gave Williams hope of a good starting place for Sunday’s race by claiming seventh place on the Sprint grid, ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and the final top-10 place was taken by Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel.
2021 FIA Formula 1 British Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:26.134
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:26.209 0.075
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:26.328 0.194
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:26.828 0.694
5 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing 1:26.844 0.710
6 Lando Norris McLaren 1:26.897 0.763
7 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:26.899 0.765
8 George Russell Williams 1:26.971 0.837
9 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:27.007 0.873
10 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:27.179 1.045
11 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:27.245 1.111
12 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:27.273 1.139
13 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:27.340 1.206
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1:27.617 1.483
15 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:27.665 1.531
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:28.043 1.909
17 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 1:28.062 1.928
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:28.254 2.120
19 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:28.738 2.604
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas 1:29.051 2.917