In a shock end to qualifying for the British Grand Prix, it was Nico Rosberg who secured pole position. Mistakes were made by drivers throughout qualifying with surprises springing up all the time, and a miserable end for Ferrari, Williams and Hamilton. Whilst delight for McLaren and Rosberg.
Ahead of qualifying, neither Mercedes set a timed lap in the wet third free practice session. But across the practice sessions for the British Grand Prix, drivers have found themselves exceeding the track limits, especially at Copse (turn 9) and Club (turn 18). Back in Austria, drivers had their times excluded in qualifying for exceeding track limits at the final corner and that will be the case here.
Come the start of Q1, the track was still wet in areas so intermediates were the tyres of choice for drivers heading straight out. As times started to be placed on the board, the early pace was being shown by Lewis Hamilton who flew to the top with a 1:43:676. Lewis’ time put him over a second faster than Ricciardo at the top, with reports of more rain on its way.
After drivers completed their first stint of times, some drivers felt conditions on track were actually sufficient for dry tyres. Some of the early changers were the cars fighting it out at the back but were also joined by Jenson Button.
Unfortunately for Kamui, without setting a timed lap on the medium compound tyres, he was back in the pits with an issue in his Caterham. But for Chilton, whilst out on the medium tyres he was able to improve his time to send him top of the time sheets.
But not so soon after, Jenson Button pushing hard fought for control of his McLaren around the final corner, sending himself over the run off. With the race stewards saying cars exceeding track limits will have their times disqualified, this actually Jenson’s time that took him to the top removed.
With track conditions improving, drivers were pushing hard to see themselves get into Q2 but a disaster for Ferrari and Williams who saw all of their drivers out of qualifying in Q1.
Fernando Alonso was his own qualifying enemy as he ran wide and span at Luffield. Meaning he was unable to improve on his lap time. But from their disaster to joy for Marussia who saw both of their drivers get into Q2. For Red Bull, they almost saw their drivers out in Q1 as well as they only just survived in 15th and 16th.
So joining Alonso out in Q1 were; 17) Bottas [1:45:318], 18) Massa 19) Alonso 20) Raikkonen 21) Ericsson 22) Kobayashi
Come the start of Q2, there were only 15 cars competing as Adrian Sutil was unable to return to the pits as he got stuck in the gravel at the end of Q1. But looking ahead to Q2, the track conditions had changed once more. Resulting in drivers opting for intermediate tyres.
As the competing drivers set their early Q2 times, it was once again Hamilton topping the time sheets. This time with a 1:44:639, which actually created a two and a half second gap to third, with Rosberg in second.
Despite loosing time in the middle sector on his next flying lap, Sebastian Vettel jumped to the top with a 1:44:085. Possibly prompting Hamilton to change to the slick tyres. But not so soon after, Vettel’s time, like Button’s, was deleted for exceeding track limits, sending him to 14th.
When the drivers set their times on the slick tyres, the times were tumbling with Sauber rocketing to the top. Followed by the Marussia’s and Red Bull’s. But with the times continuing to tumble, the Mercedes pair found extra time to secure another one-two.
But for Gutierrez, his Q2 session came to an end in the barrier at Luffield after a spin. As Gutierrez entered Luffield, he dipped a wheel onto the kerb. And thanks to the rain, it sent his Sauber spinning into the barrier.
Joining Sutil out in Q2 were Romain Grosjean, who finished in 11th with a 1:38:496, followed by Bianchi (12), Chilton (13), Gutierrez (14) and Maldonado (15th).
Due to their respective penalties however, Max Chilton will not start tomorrow’s race from 13th, instead he will fall to 18th and Esteban Gutierrez will fall from 14th to last.
But now moving on to the top 10 shoot-out, all drivers opted to start on new medium tyres with the Toro Rosso’s first out on track. But as a few drivers started to finish their first timed laps the rain returned at Stowe.
Vergne, Kvyat and Perez were able to get in their laps in the 1:40’s but when Button finished his lap he was a second off the pace and Magnussen another four seconds back.
When the two Mercedes cars hit the line, they had managed to break into the 1:39s to get another one-two, headed up by Hamilton. But with the rain returning, teams brought their drivers back to the pits. For Vettel, he hadn’t set a time so far in Q3.
Now into the final two minuets of qualifying all but Ricciardo, Kvyat and Vergne returned to the track in a late push for a better qualifying position. But as the clock ticked down to 0, Rosberg felt he was being held up by Hamilton, who in turn was behind Perez.
The Mercedes pair managed to pass Perez before the finish line and just beat the chequered flag to start their timed laps. Perez unfortunately did not beat the flag and failed to start a timed lap. But As the lap unfolded Hamilton backed out of his lap and allowed Rosberg passed. Which in turn through pole position away.
As the drivers out on track, minus Lewis and Perez, pushed hard, it didn’t seem that anyone would improve on their times after the first sector. But they all kept pushing hard and found loads of time across the remainder of the lap from Stowe onwards thanks to the dry track.
As the drivers began to cross the line to post their new lap times Hulkenberg stormed to the top of the board, giving him provisional pole. But it didn’t stay like that for long as Vettel jumped the fellow German. Surprisingly this was not the way it would end as another German in Rosberg took the top spot to secure pole position at the British Grand Prix.
Now after Hamilton backed out of his lap he fell down the time sheets to finish in sixth place, leaving Jenson Button as the only British driver out pushing at the home of British motorsport. Even though the McLaren does not appear to be a strong car, having a strong driver in the wet like Jenson meant he was able to cause a huge surprise and finish in third place.
So the provisional grid for tomorrow’s British Grand Prix will be:
|2||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:45.086||1:36.410||1:37.386|
|4||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:41.271||1:37.112||1:38.329|
|7||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:42.146||1:37.350||1:40.457|
|8||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:44.710||1:38.166||1:40.606|
|Q1 107% Time||1:47.406|