Nico Rosberg snatched a crucial pole position for the British Grand Prix in a strange conclusion to Q3 at Silverstone. Drizzle early in the last session looked to have settled the issue in Lewis Hamilton’s favour but a dry final sector turned everything on its head with the home favourite relegated to sixth in the dying seconds.
The rain began in the opening minutes of Q3 and initially Toro Rosso looked to be in the box seats having sent their drivers out immediately. The Mercedes pair had just enough time to get a dry lap in and regained control of the front row with Hamilton a tenth quicker than Rosberg and that, it seemed, was that.
Despite the drizzle, most drivers opted for a final run although Rosberg nearly missed the chequered flag on his out lap, complaining that his teammate was too slow up ahead. Even two thirds of the way through everyone’s final laps, the grid looked to be set and Lewis Hamilton clearly took that view, pitting without completing the final sector, but the final sequence of bends was drier than everybody thought and the grid received a serious reshuffle.
Nico Hulkenberg was the first to light up the timing screens, going fastest on a 1:38.329, but Sebastian Vettel snatched top spot away immediately by almost a second. To compound Hamilton’s misery still further, Rosberg had stayed on course and clocked a magnificent 1:35.766 to claim his fourth pole of the season. Hamilton also lost the honour of leading Briton with Jenson Button grabbing third, well behind Vettel but a fraction ahead of Hulkenberg.
Kevin Magnussen took fifth in the second McLaren with Hamilton relegated to sixth ahead of Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo and the two Toro Rossos who were also caught out when conditions unexpectedly improved.
The constantly changing conditions kept all of the teams on their toes in the two knockout sessions. Q1 kicked off with a damp circuit but as conditions improved, drivers quickly recognised that slicks were the best option but Williams and Ferrari didn’t realise early enough. With both of their drivers in the drop zone, both teams were stranded when the drizzle returned at Brooklands in the final minute while yellow flags for Adrian Sutil’s beached Sauber confirmed their elimination. As a result, the times set on intermediates remained as their fastest with Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa seventeenth and eighteenth, a row ahead of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.
Q2 was similarly chaotic with intermediates the order of the day for the first run but the fast drying surface prompted a change of strategy for the second. Marussia were sensing an almighty upset, having already reached Q2, with a spot in Q3 up for grabs but Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton narrowly missed out in twelfth and thirteenth, just behind Romain Grosjean’s Lotus. Esteban Gutierrez joined his Sauber teammate in the barrier with a spin at Luffield, keeping him back in fourteenth with Pastor Maldonado between him and Sutil on tomorrow’s grid.
|FORMULA 1 SANTANDER BRITISH GRAND PRIX – QUALIFYING CLASSIFICATION|
|1||6. NICO ROSBERG||MERCEDES||MEDIUM||1:35.766|
|2||1. SEBASTIAN VETTEL||RED BULL RACING RENAULT||MEDIUM||1:37.386|
|3||22. JENSON BUTTON||McLAREN MERCEDES||MEDIUM||1:38.200|
|4||27. NICO HULKENBERG||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||MEDIUM||1:38.329|
|5||20. KEVIN MAGNUSSEN||McLAREN MERCEDES||MEDIUM||1:38.417|
|6||44. LEWIS HAMILTON||MERCEDES||MEDIUM||1:39.232|
|7||11. SERGIO PEREZ||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||MEDIUM||1:40.457|
|8||3. DANIEL RICCIARDO||RED BULL RACING RENAULT||MEDIUM||1:40.606|
|9||26. DANIIL KVYAT||STR RENAULT||MEDIUM||1:40.707|
|10||25. JEAN-ERIC VERGNE||STR RENAULT||MEDIUM||1:40.855|
|ELIMINATED IN QUALIFYING 2|
|11||8. ROMAIN GROSJEAN||LOTUS RENAULT||MEDIUM||1:38.496|
|12||17. JULES BIANCHI||MARUSSIA FERRARI||MEDIUM||1:38.709|
|13||4. MAX CHILTON||MARUSSIA FERRARI||MEDIUM||1:39.800|
|14||21. ESTEBAN GUTIERREZ||SAUBER FERRARI||MEDIUM||1:40.912|
|15||13. PASTOR MALDONADO||LOTUS RENAULT||MEDIUM||1:44.018|
|16||99. ADRIAN SUTIL||SAUBER FERRARI||MEDIUM||NO TIME|
|ELIMINATED IN QUALIFYING 1|
|17||77. VALTTERI BOTTAS||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||INTER||1:45.318|
|18||19. FELIPE MASSA||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||INTER||1:45.695|
|19||14. FERNANDO ALONSO||FERRARI||INTER||1:45.935|
|20||7. KIMI RAIKKONEN||FERRARI||MEDIUM||1:46.684|
|107% QUALIFYING TIME: 1:47.406|
|21||9. MARCUS ERICSSON||CATERHAM RENAULT||INTER||1:49.421|
|22||10. KAMUI KOBAYASHI||CATERHAM RENAULT||INTER||1:49.625|