Lewis Hamilton brilliantly recovered from a spin to demolish Silverstone’s lap record and claim pole position for his home British Grand Prix.
Hamilton had appeared on the back foot after losing control of his W11 in the second stage of qualifying but bounced back when it mattered most with two record-breaking laps in Q3 that would have been enough to beat Valtteri Bottas.
His final effort – 1:24.303 – secured his 91st career pole by three tenths of a second from his team-mate as Mercedes dominantly locked out the front row.
Max Verstappen finished third in all three sessions but admitted the Mercs were “way too fast” for Red Bull to keep pace with them in Q3 after lapping a distant one second adrift of Hamilton’s pole time.
“He did two laps that were good enough for pole position,” said Sky F1’s Martin Brundle. “Stunning, stunning laps from Lewis Hamilton.”
Charles Leclerc secured Ferrari’s first second-row start of the season with an improved showing from the SF1000 – at least in his hands – to get within a tenth of the lead Red Bull.
But team-mate Sebastian Vettel’s struggle from practice continued on into qualifying, with the four-time champion only 10th. He also has the disadvantage compared to Leclerc of starting with the more brittle soft tyres for the first stint of Sunday’s race.
From a second-row lockout in Hungary last time out, Racing Point achieved a best position of sixth this time with Lance Stroll their only participant in Q3.
Nico Hulkenberg, drafted in to replace Sergio Perez at the 11th-hour on Thursday after the Mexican’s positive COVID-19 test, had run in the top 10 throughout practice but dropped out here in Q2 on his F1 qualifying return.
There was also second-stage disappointment for Alex Albon, who missed out on Q3 for the second successive event.
The Red Bull driver, who qualified 12th, experienced a disrupted build-up to qualifying after a crash on Friday and then car problems in final practice.
British GP Qualifying: Top 10
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
3. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
4. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
5. Lando Norris, McLaren
6. Lance Stroll, Racing Point
7. Carlos Sainz, McLaren
8. Daniel Ricciardo, Renault
9. Esteban Ocon, Renault
10. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari