Lewis Hamilton starts 2018 British Grand Prix from pole position at Silverstone
- Credit: Sean Ramsell
Reigning Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton will start the 2018 British Grand Prix from pole position at Silverstone.
On a great day for British sport, with England also beating Sweden 2-0 to reach the World Cup semi-finals in Russia, Hamilton recorded his own bit of qualifying history as he stormed to his 50th pole position with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport.
The four-time F1 world champion from Hertfordshire claimed his 76th career pole position, beating Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in P2 by 44 thousandths.
It was Hamilton’s sixth pole at the Silverstone Circuit and his fourth of the 2018 season.
Cheered on by his loyal home fans, Hamilton clocked a flying lap of 1m 25.892s in Q3 to pip Vettel to first place on the grid.
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Lewis said: “That lap took everything out of me, it was the toughest lap I’ve ever had to do in a qualifying session.
“I had to go over the limit to get that time out of the car and I could have easily not pulled that lap together, so I’m thankful that I was able to do it.”
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Hamilton also acknowledged the fanatical F1 supporters at Silverstone on a scorching hot afternoon.
“I knew that the fans were right there with me; every time I go out I see them cheering,” said the Mercedes driver.
“The support I get at this track is phenomenal; it means the world to me and it really lifts me up.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s race, Hamilton added: “The start and the tyre management will be key for the race.
“I’m going to see my guys tonight and tell them to keep pushing so that we’re as good as we can get tomorrow.”
Hamilton’s Silver Arrows colleague Valtteri Bottas will start tomorrow’s British Grand Prix from fourth place on the grid behind the Ferrari’s of Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.
However, Bottas felt he could have challenged Hamilton for a front row start.
Bottas said: “I’m disappointed – our pace was good today and it was all going well for me, but I lost it in the last two corners.
“I went a bit too deep into Turn 16, lost a few tenths there and dropped to fourth.
“Without that mistake I think I would have been fighting for pole today.”
The Finn added: “The Ferraris looked strong yesterday and it was very close today between us and them, so I expect a similarly close fight tomorrow.
“It’s not going to be easy to pass them tomorrow, but we’ve seen overtaking on this track before, so there’s still opportunity for more.
“We saw blistering last week in Austria, so keeping the tyres in good condition is going to be the key tomorrow given the high temperatures.
“It is going to be a long and hot race, a tough battle, but I’m looking forward to it.” Both Mercedes drivers will start Sunday’s Grand Prix on the Soft tyre.
Red Bull pair Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo were fifth and sixth respectively in the provisional qualifying results.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said: “You probably can’t ask for anything more from a qualifying session than to have three cars within a tenth of a second at the front.
“The atmosphere this afternoon was incredible: every time Lewis passed, you could hear the crowd cheering above the noise of the cars, and that support probably made the difference today.
“In the end, he was just 44 thousandths ahead of Sebastian – and Valtteri could have been right in the mix as well, apart from a mistake in the last corners that cost him over two tenths.”
As for Mercedes’ chances on Sunday, Wolff added: “We know already that it will be a tough race tomorrow, and especially so with two Ferraris starting right behind Lewis.
“There is everything still to play for and we will have to be at our very best as a team if we wish to come out on top.”
Mercedes technical director James Allison said: “Yesterday’s free practice running proved an extremely accurate portent of what we saw today.
“It looked very tight at the front on Friday and so it proved in qualifying: it needed a very good lap from Lewis to put the car on pole and, save for an error in the final corners, Valtteri would have been just behind.
“If Friday’s running proves as accurate a gauge of tomorrow’s relative performance as it did for today’s, then we are in for a tight and tough afternoon, when strategy and tyre management will play vital parts in who gets to the lift the silverware at the end.
“The car performed well in the heat on the long runs and we hope we can achieve the same level of performance, or more, when it counts.”