Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

lauantai 15. heinäkuuta 2017

British GP / Qualifying: Hamilton took the 67th pole position of his career!

In Britain the weather often tends to play a major role during the GP weekend. So was the case in terms of today´s qualifying. It was raining, as Q1 got underway, so the first session started in damp conditions. Both Ferrari and Red Bull sent their drivers out on the green-marked intermediate tyres, whilst their rivals initially opted to slick tyres. However, the conditions turned out too tricky and slippery for slick tyres; soon everyone pitted for the intermediate tyres. This time the unlucky Red Bull pilot was Daniel Ricciardo, whose RB13 stopped on the track due to a suspected turbo failure, when there were 10 minutes in the clock. The session was red-flagged. When the session was resumed, the track kept improving towards the end of the session. A do-or-die, last-minute lap from Alonso after a switch to dry rubber saw McLaren top a thrilling Q1 phase! Verstappen was second for Red Bull, Hamilton third for Mercedes and Hulkenberg fourth for Renault in the mixed conditions. Williams´ Stroll was the first driver to be eliminated from Q2, along with Haas´ Magnussen and the Sauber duo of Wehrlein and Ericsson. Ricciardo -already carrying a 5-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change- will start from the back of the grid.

The start of Q2 had seen everyone move to slick tyres after earlier rain. Mercedes´ Bottas was notably the only man to set his fastest lap time on soft rather than super soft tyres. The Finnish Mercedes ace had also been given a 5-place grid penalty due to a gearbox change -similar to Ricciardo. The Q2 tyre choice means, that Valtteri will be the sole top-ten runner to start Sunday´s race on the more durable rubber. Similar to the end of Q1, the track kept improving lap by lap. The crowd favourite Hamilton absolutely owned the second session. The Briton topped the time sheets with a huge 8-tenth margin to his teammate Bottas. The Mercedes duo was followed by the Ferrari teammates Sebastian and Kimi. Vandoorne out-qualified his teammate Alonso for the first time in his career, as the Belgian was the last man to get through to Q3. In addition to Alonso, out of Q3 were also Renault´s Palmer, the Toro Rosso teammates Kvyat and Sainz and Williams´ Massa. Alonso´s qualifying performance was of little significance, as the Spaniard will drop to the rear of the grid thanks to penalties totalling 30 places due to power unit element changes.

In Q3 Hamilton put on a staggering display for his home fans, taking provisional pole with a two-tenth margin to Sebastian. Bottas was third and Kimi fourth; the Finns were separated by only five hundredths of a second! Verstappen in his Red Bull was clearly off the pace, as the Dutchman was over a second down on Hamilton. The shootout for pole came down to the final runs. Bottas had a big lock-up on his final Q3 run, which cost him the front row grid slot. Hamilton on the other hand was flying in front of his home crowd; the Briton improved his lap time by six tenths! Hamilton took the 67th pole position of his career -and with the biggest margin of the season so far! Kimi drove impressively as well, as the Iceman made his way on the front row! Half a second separated these two. Sebastian qualified third, two tenths down on his Finnish teammate. Bottas had to settle for P4 due to his mistake; thanks to his penalty he will drop down to P9 on the grid. Verstappen qualified fifth -1,5 seconds down on pole-setter Hamilton! Hulkenberg took a superb sixth for Renault. The Force India teammates Perez and Ocon were 7th and 8th. Vandoorne scored his best grid position to date, qualifying 9th, and Haas´ Grosjean rounded out the top ten.

Pole-setter Hamilton was briefly under stewards´ investigation after the session for possibly blocking the Haas of Romain Grosjean early in the final phase, but the officials quickly decided that no action was warranted. Tomorrow´s race will certainly be extremely interesting. The British weather won´t probably fail to produce some extra excitement for the race, as there is a 50-percent chance of rain during the race. I was so happy to see such a strong and convincing qualifying from Kimi, who has been given a lot of criticism for his tame performance during this season. Tomorrow Kimi will have a superb chance to challenge Hamilton at the start. In case of mixed conditions, Red Bull´s Verstappen will shine. He has the courage to overtake even in slippery and wet conditions. The wetter it gets, the more surprises there will be... Can´t wait for the lights to go out!

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