SILVERSTONE, England, Aug 1 (Reuters) – Six-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton of England smashed all records by taking pole position at the British Grand Prix on Saturday with a frantic lap.
The 35-year-old, pursuing a record seven wins at Silverstone on Sunday, was joined in the front row by his teammate, Finn’s Valtteri Bottas, with Max Verstappen taking third place in qualifying for Red Bull.
This is Hamilton’s 91st pole in the championship and his seventh at Silverstone, which he secured by completing the fastest lap with 1 minute and 24.303 seconds after Bottas led free practice on a windy noon.
Hamilton spun in Luffield at the start of the second phase of the qualifying session, without damaging his car but drawing red flags due to the amount of gravel scattered on the track.
“Qualifying is largely about building your own confidence and … I was already overwhelmed, I was fighting for the top tier on every lap,” Hamilton told 2009 champion Jenson Button in an interview after getting out of the car. .
“I don’t know how, but with some deep inspirations I managed to compose myself. Q3 (the final phase) started well, but still the first lap was not perfect, although it was a very clean lap, and the second even better.”
Bottas, five points behind his teammate in the championship after three races, could only manage a time of 1 minute and 24,616 seconds.
Verstappen was more than a second off Hamilton’s pace in third, with Charles Leclerc of Ferrari accompanying him in the second row, while his teammate, four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, ranked 10th.
“I think the lap at the end of Q3 was actually quite good, but you could see very early in qualifying that they were too fast, as they have been in the last three races,” said Verstappen.
Dutch rider Alexander Albon’s teammate failed to sneak into the top 10, continuing his losing streak on Saturday by ranking 12th.
That puts him alongside Frenchman Pierre Gasly of AlphaTauri, who took the Red Bull seat before him.
Gasly failed to enter the top 10 by a very narrow margin, setting the same time as Canadian Lance Stroll of Racing Point, who overtook him for taking his lap first.
Lando Norris, the British McLaren driver, will start fifth, ahead of Stroll, who will do so in sixth, with teammate Carlos Sainz in seventh place and Renault’s Australian Daniel Ricciardo in eighth.
The qualifying session was held without an audience due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Information from Alan Baldwin; edited by Edmund Blair and Ken Ferris; translated by Darío Fernández in the Gdansk newsroom)