Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 8. heinäkuuta 2018

British GP / Qualifying: Hamilton claimed 4th consecutive pole at Silverstone!

Usually the British weather has offered rainy conditions and cool temperatures for the British GP weekend, but this time it was blue skies and scorching temperatures, as qualifying got underway. Sebastian had completed eight laps only in the third free practice session in the morning due to severe neck pain. In the morning it had even been uncertain, whether the German was able to take part in the qualifying. After physiotherapy Sebastian made it in the qualifying. Due to the lack of laps in FP3, Sebastian came out on the yellow-walled soft Pirellis, whilst teammate Kimi opted for the mediums. However, with only four minutes gone of the first session, Williams' Stroll spun and got stuck in the gravel. The session was red-flagged. When the session was resumed, Williams' day turned out pitch-black on their home soil, as Sirotkin, too lost the rear end of his FW41 and spun. Luckily the Russian was able to continue. Also the Mercedes drivers came out on the white-marked medium rubber. Sebastian went fastest, with home hero Hamilton second and teammate Bottas third. Once again Sauber's performance caught my eye. Leclerc continued his magnificent performances, being sixth fastest in the first segment. Teammate Ericsson also made it through to Q2, making it P13. Renault's Sainz was the first faller in Q1, accompanied by McLaren's Vandoorne and the failed Williams duo of Sirotkin and Stroll. Toro Rosso's Hartley was unable to take part in the qualifying due to his FP3 crash, where the left-side suspension of his Toro Rosso had suddenly failed in high speed.

This time Q2 saw no variety in tyre strategy, but all teams opted for the softest compound of the weekend. It was very tight between Mercedes and Ferrari. To the home crowd's delight, Hamilton was the fastest man on his home soil. Despite the neck issue, Sebastian was right at the Briton's tail. Bottas was third and Kimi fourth. At this point it seemed obvious, that Red Bull were missing pace, to be able to challenge the Silver Arrows and the Prancing Horse for pole. In terms of the midfield, the shining star was once again Sauber's Leclerc, who was 9th fastest and made it through to Q3, whilst teammate Ericsson missed out on the decisive last segment. Out of Q3 were also Renault's Hulkenberg, Force India's Perez, McLaren's Alonso and Toro Rosso's Gasly.

The shootout for pole was a true thriller. Sebastian took provisional pole by 0.057s to home hero Hamilton, who was chasing already his 6th pole at Silverstone. After the first runs Bottas was third, two tenths down on Sebastian, and Kimi was fourth, three tenths down on his teammate. If I hadn't known, that Sebastian was suffering from a severe neck issue, I wouldn't have noticed anything in terms of his driving. His pace seemed as impressive as always in qualifying! Red Bull's first runs were quite tame, as Verstappen was seven tenths off the pace, and teammate Ricciardo was massive 1.1s down on pace-setting Sebastian. The Australian was having an issue with his DRS, which must have affected his pace. Hamilton's second run was phenomenal, and to the home crowd's joy, the Briton made it on top. Unfortunately Sebastian wasn't able to improve his lap time on his second run, but the German was only 44 thousandths of a second down on the Briton! Kimi set fastest time in sector one, but made a mistake in sector two, and in spite of the fastest third sector, the Iceman was left third. But the battle was extremely tight, as the top three was separated by 98 thousandths of a second only! This time Bottas was left out of the front row, and the Finn had to settle for P4. Third row was locked down by the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Ricciardo. The Haas duo of Magnussen and Grosjean locked down the fourth row, and Sauber's Leclerc and Force India's Ocon rounded out the top ten.

It's interesting to see, how the tyre degradation will turn out, as the conditions at Silverstone are exceptionally hot. I'm pretty sure, that all teams and drivers won't be able to make a one-stop strategy work. So nursing the tyres will be a key factor in the race. I hope Sebastian is completely okay, because it's going to be an extremely tough race with the high-speed corners and massive G forces. Keeping my thumbs up for my red-suited heroes! Forza Ferrari!

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