A weather-affected F1 British GP qualifying saw Red Bull and Ferrari still ahead and the pecking order not change as much with few surprises.
The Saturday in F1 British GP saw the weather play a big role with qualifying taking place under wet conditions. It didn’t change the pecking order by much as Ferrari and Red Bull still took centerstage, with Carlos Sainz taking pole from Max Verstappen.
It was a surprising lap from Sainz to get ahead as yellow flag disrupted Verstappen, while a moment for Charles Leclerc dropped him to third. The Dutchman’s teammate Sergio Perez was fourth which was a good result of disaster of a Friday.
Sainz: “Honestly, I had no idea where I was going to qualify because the conditions were so changeable that I didn’t even know what was the lap-time to beat in Q3. I didn’t know what lap-time I had to do on that lap to go pole. It didn’t feel amazing, because I did a small mistake in Turn Three, which threw me out of line into Turn Four, then I remember going through the high speed and thinking I should have maybe pushed a bit more, then running out of battery into 15 and 16. And I said, well, I have the lap on the board which through the corners, which is not too bad, but missing the battery and everything in the last couple of straights, I was convinced that maybe it was not going to be enough. But then, it turned out to be enough. And I was pretty happy to hear that.
“But that’s what I meant: that the lap wasn’t perfect because of all these couple of things. But in the end in these conditions, a lot of times it’s about putting it together, or putting a decent lap on the board. Not the most optimal, perfect love of your life. Confidence is high. If I look back to FP2 the pace was there and I was feeling at home with a car and I’m pushing well on the tyres. I don’t know, if the feeling is like in FP2 then I’m confident that I can hold on to a lead and try to do my own race, pushing from the beginning. If the balance and the car is like FP3 then I think it could be a bit more tricky, but we’ve changed a few things since FP3, because we found ourselves with some issues that we didn’t expect and it looked like in Quali we improved a bit, so hopefully the car is back like it was in FP2 and I can do my own race.”
Verstappen: “Q3 was fine. Just my final lap, I had the yellow flags, I lifted, not to have any issues and then you end up just being behind in qualifying but overall the car was good. So, it doesn’t matter. Of course, a shame to miss a pole position but I also know that tomorrow are the points and that’s what I like on a Sunday, to go racing, and especially when you have a good feeling with the car. I was warming the tyres. That’s why I did the 360° as well. To put a bit more heat in them. As for the race, I think it’s going to be good. The car was very nice in FP3, better balanced than FP2 and that’s, of course, important that you find that right balance. Tomorrow, it’s a bit of a question mark. The track will probably be quite green, because of the rain. How the tyres are going to last, but I have good confidence that our cars should be quick.”
Leclerc: “I actually felt very good. Unfortunately, I did the mistake in that last lap in Q3, where I knew it was the lap I had to put together and I just didn’t do a good enough job. I lost it in Turn 14, I think it was. There was quite a lot of standing water and lost it there. But apart from that, I think the car was quite competitive in those conditions, which is important to see because obviously, I keep repeating it every time we drive in those conditions this year, but the last few years, weren’t easy in those conditions. So, it’s good to see that we found a bit of a consistency in rainy conditions.”
Perez: “Certainly there was there was more on the table. It wasn’t ideal at the end, I had Zhou right behind me for my final two laps. It wasn’t ideal, but still I think P4 is not the end of the world. I think we can play from there. And as long as we have a competitive car tomorrow, I think we should be able to make good progress. The car was quite different to what I had yesterday, but I think it shouldn’t be the end of the world, and should be easy to get up to speed and yeah, I think as long as we have a good strategy, and things work on our favour, we should be we should be strong. It was an aerodynamic issue with the car.” “No, the fitting of the parts, how they were fitted. So that was the problem.”
Behind the Top 2 F1 teams, Mercedes looked good but they have two cars a bit apart with Lewis Hamilton in fifth and George Russell in eighth. The former felt pretty good but just missed on his final lap, while the latter admitted to making a mistake too.
This allowed McLaren’s Lando Norris and Alpine’s Fernando Alonso to get ahead of Russell, as the duo were very pleased to be able to get in the mix with the Mercedes pair who were looking to have a better pace all-weekend long.
The Top 10 had further surprise with both Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu and Williams’ Nicholas Latifi making it in by beating their teammates. For the latter, it is his first Q3 especially at a weekend where Alexander Albon has all the updates.
Hamilton: “The team have worked incredibly hard with some upgrades for this weekend, we had a bunch of parts around the car and the car has improved but we still have bouncing in the corners which is where, particularly the Red Bull, was pulling away from us. But in the rain we were fighting for the front row and it was all the way up to the second to last lap we were up, but I was asked to back off and wait for the last lap but then it rained. So that was a bit unfortunate. I wanted to go to a more racy power mode for the last lap, charging the battery etc, and as we did that it rained a bit more on the last lap.
“I was really so hopefully because we have got this incredible crowd and all of a sudden I was in the fight so I was feeling great, going second by 0.02s or something, so I thought I could definitely go quicker. I think I was two tenths up so I backed off to go again on the next lap but it wasn’t to be. It makes it a little bit harder tomorrow but still we have got a good race car and will be continue to work, it is not the worst position to start of course, and in the past races I would’ve been super happy with that. But of course it is the British Grand Prix and you are hopeful for something more. I think I was on course for that but anyway, we move forwards and I will try to pull something special out for tomorrow.”
Norris: “I’m very happy with today. It’s so easy to miss a lap in conditions like this, especially on the inter when conditions are getting better and better and then suddenly getting worse or vice versa, they are getting worse and suddenly getting better. You need to know when you can really push and when you can really go for your laps. I think that is what we did today. In Q2, you had to do that right at the beginning, in the first two laps. If you didn’t, it got too wet. In Q3, it was all about doing it in the last two laps. I understood that inside the car, knew when I needed to push and when I didn’t need to push. But to be ahead of a Mercedes as well, and almost two I would say, is a very good job by us – considering they have a much quicker car by a good six or seven-tenths – I’m very happy to be ahead of at least one of them.” No chance [of staying ahead of Russell], but I have a chance with the rest of them, so hopefully just staying behind them [Mercedes] is the target.”
Alonso: “I thought OK, this is going well! But then obviously, you need to start timing to cross the line as late as possible in the session, but with the battery full as well, so you need to recharge on the lap before. We didn’t have that much margin. We went for a push on the lap before. In the end, we managed to cross the line with three seconds of margin, but with no battery any more. So effectively, my best lap was like two laps before the red [means chequered] flag. So it was very early in the session to really perform better. We lost maybe a couple of places because of that. I think if you qualify in front of Lewis or George or Norris or something, maybe tomorrow, you end up in your natural position. So in the end, P7 I think is where we will fight tomorrow, it’s OK. I did just one out-in in Q2 with that set, so we didn’t know if to fit another set. We just kept that one, and we kept that one because we felt that it was OK. Tomorrow you don’t know if it’s going to rain or not, so it’s always good to have one new set in case.”
Guanyu: “Qualifying was a challenge, but I would say I didn’t do too bad for a rookie! It was my first time driving in F1 in Silverstone in the wet, the conditions were very different from yesterday but today has been good, I felt like I was progressing and improving my time lap after lap. It was particularly tricky out there between Q2 and Q3, when it was getting damp and there was a lot of standing water, but I managed to keep the car on track and reckon I was able to maximize everything I had today, so I can consider myself satisfied of the job done. It feels amazing to score two back-to-back Q3 appearances, I feel like I’m growing as a Formula 1 driver and I am really happy about that. I am looking forward to tomorrow, the track conditions should be dry, and I think we have the opportunity to score some points, which is always our main target. We have good potential, the grid will be super close, but I reckon we are looking good and both cars will be able to challenge for points.”
Latifi: “Yes, obviously a very positive qualifying session. I mean I think just getting to Q2 was already great and Q3 definitely more than we could’ve hoped for. When it does rain you obviously hope that there is opportunity. Overall, satisfied with that for sure and I think what was really key as well was being in the right place at the right time and the team did a great job with that, with the track positioning. And yes, we got the lap when we needed to. That was obviously really positive and naturally there’s a little bit of frustration with the off I had in Q3 but at that point, I’m so far out of position and I think to be any further than that was always going to be tricky. And I must have had some damage after that, so the car was really squirrely. My car’s not the 10th-fastest car, clearly, on the grid. But with the rain we managed to do a great job as a team and put ourselves there. Tomorrow, for the race, it’s most likely going to be dry, we’re going to have a lot of faster cars coming from behind. We have to see what we can do; at the end we have to focus on our race and whatever the result is going to be, it’s going to be.”
Outside the Top 10, AlphaTauri pair found it well to be in Q2 after practice struggles. Pierre Gasly ended up 11th but was fine with the results as he needed rain to do well. Teammate Yuki Tsunoda was a bit disappointed with a dry set-up on his.
With rain falling harder, it gave no chance for others like Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon to improve on their time. Larger disappointment was for Williams’ Albon who blamed cooldown lap for his Q1 exit, while Aston Martin and Haas pair were left disappointed too.
Gasly: “It’s been extremely hard this weekend in the practice sessions. We came here knowing we’d struggle on this track, we haven’t been able to find many solutions, but our Quali was well executed, and we need to be content with P11. Obviously, we can’t be fully happy with such a performance, we want more than that, but that’s where our car is currently on this kind of tracks. I’ll be doing a rain dance tonight and hoping we can have anything other than dry conditions to help us out the most in the race tomorrow.”
Vettel: “Maybe we could have, but I don’t think it was really what hurt us today. We just didn’t seem to be quick enough. We lost a lot of time. And I guess everywhere around the lap, I mean, balance-wise, I had a lot understeer in the car, and was waiting for the car to rotate. But I don’t think that’s the main issue. For some reason, we weren’t able to generate the grip that we should have had, I guess. But yeah, it’s now tough for tomorrow. I had an issue with the visor actually, I had to change the helmet for early stop. So it wasn’t planned. And no, we had we had plenty of time after, so it didn’t bother me.”
Here’s how F1 British GP qualifying panned out