The Friday in F1 British GP was new for everyone with qualifying done and dusted, where Mercedes edged out Red Bull eventually.
The changed format for Friday in F1 British GP saw qualifying done with, where Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton ended up on top with a 0.075s margin over Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who didn’t look fully in control of his car, with Valtteri Bottas ending up third behind.
The Dutchman still has a chance to revive himself and start the Sunday’s F1 race from pole but it will be a task as Mercedes looks sharp and some extra sim time for Hamilton in the day at Brackley helped in the juices flowing and get the extra time in.
For Verstappen, he felt the balance was a miss as he was having understeer because of the front wing set-up, which didn’t give him enough grip. His teammate Sergio Perez had a decent run but never looked to push himself into the Top 3 fight.
He ended up fifth after his best lap was deleted, whereas Valtteri Bottas was happy with his work, even without a tow. The Mexican F1 driver now hopes to recover the lost place from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, while the Finn is hoping to dislodge Verstappen from P2.
Hamilton: “I’m over the moon. That first lap was great, the second was looking even better but I just lost the back end in the last corner, so my heart was in my mouth as I came across the line. But I could see the crowd and it was really reminiscent of my first pole here in 2007… I couldn’t have done it without all these guys here so big, big thank you.
“I said we had this morning free and I was like, ‘Look, instead of being stood around and wasting time, let’s get to it’. So we did a practice session this morning and I was just trying to develop it, trying to give the guys as much information as possible so as we’re developing the car, we’re squeezing absolutely every ounce of performance from this thing.”
Verstappen: “It just didn’t feel, it just felt weird. I think the car was quite competitive and I had a lot of grip, but the corners where you had to attack I just didn’t have the front grip. I didn’t really feel like it was front wing or set-up related, so a very odd feeling with the front tyres. They just didn’t give me the grip, so we need to have a look at what’s happening there because we tried a few things, but it was not really improving my feeling throughout qualifying. Understeering in qualifying is slow.”
Behind the front-runners, Leclerc managed to end up fourth but Carlos Sainz couldn’t put together a lap to be only ninth, while both the McLaren drivers had a better run with Lando Norris sixth and Daniel Ricciardo seventh – where the latter would only gain confidence.
The biggest ‘win’ among the lot was for Williams’ George Russell, who once again made it into Q3 in eighth ahead of Sainz and also Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel. Talking about fourth, Leclerc said he was pretty happy with how all three of his sessions went.
He had one moment, but it was fine in the end and crucial for him to be ahead of the two McLaren F1 drivers. For Norris, he admitted that he was a bit down to Ricciardo after they ended up 0.002s aloof, where both didn’t improve on their second run overall.
Norris said he was surprised with sixth even on his off day, while Ricciardo was happy that he managed to be close to his teammate and was generally excited about the format, which will allow him to gain places – if possible – for Sunday’s F1 race.
For Russell, though, it was another step up in his stride, whereas his teammate Nicholas Latifi rued the time loss on the straight-line, which cost him a Q2 spot. Another teammate situation was at Aston Martin, where Lance Stroll struggled to get the most from the car.
Ricciardo: “I’m mixed right now, because it was actually good. We had a good feeling and good pace and just the last run, I think there was some time on the table. I see how close it is and when you see fourth so close… right now I feel like I know where that time is. It’s been a good day – I’m obviously just frustrated with such small margins. Looking at the last two qualifyings, seventh is great, but I feel it’s also a slight missed opportunity. I think we could have looked a lot better – I say a lot better, obviously as tight as it is, all we needed was that last little bit and it’s a few more spots up the grid.
“You’ve got to be a little bit smart about the main points [being] on Sunday, so you don’t want to ruin yourself for Sunday if you know what I mean and do something silly. But I see it as an opportunity to start further up the grid on Sunday. I’m excited for the format. I like having one practice straight into quali, I think that’s kind of fun.”
Russell: “I went out first lap in Q1 and knew we were in a good spot. I’m buzzing to be honest. Also my family are here – they haven’t been to a race since Abu Dhabi 2019, so that’s great for me as well and so nice to do it in front of them. I think a lot of guys will be playing it a bit easy because they want to get a good starting position for Sunday.
“But we’re going for it. It’s another race for me and I want to go forward, I want to fight with these guys around me and get the best possible starting position for Sunday. I’m treating it like any normal race and just going for it.”
Latifi: “I was happy because I felt it was a good lap, frustrated that it was very slow. I got out of the car and I saw why. I’m not sure why it is, what caused it, but I’m losing six-tenths in the straights. Just in the straights. So that’s easily Q2, even if I get some of that. We have to understand why. I felt that from the first lap in qualifying it just didn’t seem like I was getting as much top speed as I should have compared to practice.
“As soon as I finished the lap I though I wasn’t pulling as much speed as I should have been into the corners. It just felt slower than it should be. I’m not going to start guessing what it was but I’m losing six tenths in the straights and that easily puts me into Q2 quite comfortably. So I’m very frustrated, obviously. But I think car set-up-wise, driving-wise, it was a decent job.”
Outside the Top 10, the Alpine duo had mixed feelings, where Fernando Alonso only missed Q3 by 0.025s. The Spaniard thought they had enough pace to be in the Top 10 but it wasn’t to be. At the same time, Esteban Ocon was pleased to bounce back.
After awful time in Austria, Ocon was happy to make it into Q2 and generally feel better with the F1 car after changes. He was disappointed to not make it into Top 10, but was overall pleased to be there in 13th and with a chance to fight for points.
At AlphaTauri, it was more struggle all-around, with Pierre Gasly noting that he just didn’t feel the balance all day long. Teammate Yuki Tsunoda couldn’t put together a lap, while Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen stated that there was nothing more he could have done.
His teammate Antonio Giovinazzi made it into Q2, but admitted that there was no more pace to go beyond. At Haas, both Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin had trouble-free outing and felt in a good space for the Sprint Race – reviving some F2 memories.
Gasly: “Since FP1 we’ve struggled with the car balance, far more than usual. We made some changes for Qualifying, but it just wasn’t enough. I was happy with my lap in Q2 but as I crossed the line, I knew it wasn’t going to be enough, it was just so tight out there today. I think it’s going to be hard the next few days, because we can’t make changes to the car anymore. We only have FP2 to understand the tyre better ahead of the Sprint Qualifying and Sunday’s race, but we’ll fight as hard as always, it’s a different format and lots of things can happen, you never know.”
Raikkonen: “We were hoping for more so to be out in Q1 is not great: there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with the lap, but there was simply no more I could get. Now let’s focus on the Sprint race: it’s a new format so let’s see what we can get from it. We need to do our best and make up some places as we have done in previous races to give ourselves a better shot on Sunday.”
Here’s how F1 British GP qualifying panned out