Lewis Hamilton claimed a fourth career British Grand Prix, taking top spot on the grid with a superb last-ditch effort after his first Q3 flyer was deleted for exceeding the track limits.
Overnight at Silverstone the race stewards had informed teams that a “zero tolerance” attitude would be taken to drivers utilising more of the track than is legal, particularly at Copse, Stowe and Club corners.
Several drivers were penalised during the course of the session and after taking provisional pole position with a lap of 1:29.339 Hamilton too felt the stewards’ wrath as he went over the kerbing.
“The penultimate lap was a very good lap but unfortunately it was taken away,” he said. “I touched the kerb but it pulled me further. It didn’t feel like I was going to be running wide but the car bottomed and kind of bounced just outside the line.”
That handed P1 to Rosberg with Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen in P2 ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
Hamilton was left with a single run in which to stake his claim to top spot and the defending champion delivered in spectacular style, bettering his first run time by five hundredths of a second. Rosberg failed to improve and thus Hamilton his fourth career British Grand Prix pole.
“A lot of pressure for that last lap. I was just sitting in the garage and I knew that I couldn’t let the guys down as on the first lap I had,” said Hamilton. “The second lap wasn’t as good but I was obviously making sure I was cautious, making sure I got that lap in. I’m grateful that I did and really again thank you to my team who have done an amazing job to have the performance we have this weekend, it’s outstanding.”
Behind the Mercedes duo, Verstappen held P3. The Dutch driver failed to improve on his first-run time but Ricciardo too could find no more pace and the teenager out-qualified his more experienced team-mate for the first time since joining Red Bull ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix. Today’s result is also Verstappen’s best qualifying finish to date.
Kimi Raikkonen claimed the front slot of row three with a time 0.263 behind Ricciardo. The Finn survived a Q2 scare in which several errant laps saw him in P15 in the final moment of the middle session.
Raikkonen found a clean lap with his final flyer, however, to make it through to Q3 in P6 and then bettered that by one place in the final session. Team-mate Sebastian Vettel took sixth place but is set to drop down the grid after requiring a replacement gearbox following an issue in FP3.
Valtteri Bottas was seventh for Williams ahead of Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.
The first session saw Jenson Button, in the second McLaren, eliminated in P17 ahead of Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, the Manors of Rio Haryanto and Pascal Wehrlein and the sole Sauber of Felipe Nasr. The Brazilian’s team-mate Marcus Ericsson did not take part in the session having been sent to hospital for checks following his heavy crash in FP3.
There was confusion ahead of Q2 with McLaren believing that Button might make it into Q2 owing to the possibility of Magnussen’s final time being deleted. But it was not the case and Button’s scramble to be ready for the session, having left the garage after Q1, was in vain.
Raikkonen’s was not the only driver to make a good escape in Q2. Carlos Sainz too put in a superb final flyer to rise from the lower reaches of the order to claim P8 and a Q3 berth.
Behind tenth-placed Alonso, eliminated in Q2 were Force India’s Sergio Perez, Williams’ Felipe Massa, Haas’ Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez, Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat and Renault’s Magnussen.
2016 British Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:30.739 1:29.243 1:29.287
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:30.724 1:29.970 1:29.606
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:31.305 1:30.697 1:30.313
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:31.684 1:31.319 1:30.618
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:31.326 1:31.385 1:30.881
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:31.606 1:30.711 1:31.490
7 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:31.913 1:31.478 1:31.557
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:32.349 1:37.770 1:31.920
9 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:32.115 1:31.708 1:31.989
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:32.281 1:31.740 1:32.343
11 Sergio Perez Force India 1:32.336 1:31.875
12 Felipe Massa Williams 1:32.146 1:32.002
13 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:32.283 1:32.050
14 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 1:32.237 1:32.241
15 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:32.553 1:32.306
16 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:32.729 1:37.060
17 Jenson Button McLaren 1:32.788
18 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:32.905
19 Rio Haryanto Manor 1:33.098
20 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1:33.151
21 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:33.544
22 Marcus Ericsson Sauber