Lewis Hamilton took a stunning pole position at his home British Grand Prix at Silverstone after he qualified nearly half a second quicker than his closest challenger, Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg. But Red Bull are strongly positioned, with Sebastian Vettel claiming third place, just 0.009 seconds ahead of Mark Webber.

It appeared as if another local favorite would be celebrating when Force India’s Paul Di Resta qualified in a career-best fifth spot. However, he was later disqualified from the session after his car was found to be underweight. He will now start from the back of the grid, or possibly even the pit lane. That means that Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo and Di Resta’s teammate Adrian Sutil round out the top six. Meanwhile, it was a disappointing session for title contenders Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso, who qualified down in ninth and 10th, respectively before later being bumped up a spot.

It was a fine performance by Hamilton after he had complained of struggling to get to grips with his car after Friday’s practice sessions. While Mercedes showed signs of being better equipped to deal with crippling tire wear, which has plagued them on race day throughout the season, Hamilton conceded that it will be a major challenge to hold off championship leader Vettel on Sunday.

“I think undoubtedly it’s going to be tough for us to keep Sebastian behind but our long run pace wasn’t as bad as we’ve seen in the past, so I’m hoping with the temperatures and a bit of care, we can nurture the tires to get a good result,” he said in the post-qualifying press conference.

Vettel admitted that he was powerless against Hamilton’s scintillating lap, but sounded a confident tone as he looks to extend his 36 point lead at the top of the drivers’ standings.

“We’ll obvious see what happens tomorrow,” he said. “It’s a long race but honestly very happy today. I don’t know, either Lewis found a short cut or he has something special around here. A phenomenal lap. I think it wasn’t in reach today. I was very happy with the lap I had at the end.”

Far less upbeat was the man leading the chase for Vettel, Ferrari’s Alonso. The Spaniard lamented various problems with the car and believed it had been their worst qualifying session of the season.

“This weekend has been complicated for us by problems that we haven’t managed to get on top of, concerning various aspects such as the balance of the car, its drivability and performance,” he explained, according to the official Formula one website. “We can consider this the worst Saturday of the season so far, having never finished so far down, but now we must react immediately to try and return to the form we showed at the start of the year.”

Raikkonen, one spot behind Alonso in the drivers’ championship was also left disappointed as he qualified behind his Lotus teammate Romain Grosjean for the first time this season. McLaren, who have admitted that they are already turning their focus to next season’s car, failed to get either Jenson Button or Sergio Perez into the top 10 showdown. Elsewhere, there was a reality check for Valtteri Bottas. After the Williams driver claimed a sensational third on the grid in Canada three weeks ago, he failed to get out of Q1 this time around.

Where to watch: The British Grand Prix will get underway at 8 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by CNBC, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra