Lewis Hamilton is primed to continue his Formula 1 world title momentum after taking pole position ahead of Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg at the British Grand Prix. In a session dominated by Mercedes, Hamilton could even afford having his first pole-setting lap time deleted after running off the track before going even faster with his final lap to beat Rosberg by 0.319 seconds. Max Verstappen was over a second back in third, ahead of Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
It means that there is set to be yet another toe-to-toe battle between the two Mercedes drivers on Sunday. After a final-lap collision in Austria last week, Hamilton and Rosberg were given a final warning and threatened with sporting and financial sanctions by Mercedes if there is another similar incident. Both men, though, suggested little will change in their approach.
“Tomorrow we’re going to race,” Hamilton said in the post-qualifying press conference. “We’re going to race as we always do. Of course what we have been told before this weekend we are aware of and conscious of, so it will be at the back of our minds for sure – but that does not mean that we can’t continue to drive hard as we have done. So, tomorrow, I think it starts the same.”
With every point likely to be crucial in the battle for the drivers’ championship, it appears unlikely that either man to dull their competitive edge. After winning three of the last four races, Hamilton now trails Rosberg by just 11 points.
And Hamilton has further motivation for Sunday’s race at Silverstone. Victory would give the 31-year-old a third successive win at his home Grand Prix, a feat not accomplished since the 1960s.
It is difficult to see anyone other than Rosberg stopping him, even if Red Bull has shown better race than qualifying pace. Indeed, even Verstappen, who out-qualified Ricciardo for the first time since joining Red Bull earlier this season, admitted it would be difficult to leapfrog Mercedes.
“I think if I can keep position I will be very happy because I think Mercedes is a bit too strong for us – but we’ll try to keep up,” he said.
Still, Red Bull will go into the race in better spirits than Ferrari. Kimi Raikkonen, who has just signed a contract to remain at the Maranello team for another year, qualified fifth, one place ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel. But for the second time in as many races Vettel has been handed a five-place grid penalty after his gearbox failed in final practice.
“I think there's a lot of catching up for us to do,” Vettel said. “We need to make the car quicker, to put more downforce in it, make it more efficient at the same time, and add a bit of power. Replacing the gearbox is something we have to accept, and we did accept it going into the session.”
The top 10 was rounded out by Valtteri Bottas, Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso. But there was disappointment for Alonso’s McLaren teammate and home favorite Jenson Button, who failed to make it out of Q3.
F1 British Grand Prix Starting Grid
1. Hamilton (Mercedes)
2. Rosberg (Mercedes)
3. Verstappen (Red Bull)
4. Ricciardo (Red Bull)
5. Raikkonen (Ferrari)
6. Bottas (Williams)
7. Sainz (Toro Rosso)
8. Hulkenberg (Force India)
9. Alonso (McLaren)
10. Perez (Force India)
11. Vettel (Ferrari)
12. Massa (Williams)
13. Grosjean (Haas)
14. Gutierrez (Haas)
15. Kvyat (Toro Rosso)
16. Magnussen (Renault)
17. Button (McLaren)
18. Palmer (Renault)
19. Haryanto (Marussia)
20. Wehrlein (Marussia)
21. Nasr (Sauber)
22. Ericsson (Sauber)
Start Time: 8 a.m. EDT
TV Channel: NBCSN
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra