Hamilton on pole for British GP

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Lewis Hamilton may not have led a single session heading into qualifying for the British Grand Prix, but he delivered when it mattered, the Briton sweeping to pole position and fending off a stern challenge from Mercedes team mate and strongest championship rival Valtteri Bottas.

Reigning world champion Hamilton wasn’t too happy with the car after Friday practice and was unusually still making changes to his Silver Arrow ahead of qualifying.

He later admitted those tweaks subsequently made the car worse, and you could believe it when he made a rare mistake in Q2, spinning at Luffield and dragging gravel onto the track to cause a red flag.

But as he has done so often in his illustrious career, Hamilton regrouped, zoned everything else out, and pieced together the fastest lap of the weekend to nail a track record and put pole position out of reach. In doing so, he also became the first driver to take seven poles at his home event.

Bottas slotted into second, three tenths off the pace, with Max Verstappen in third for Red Bull, around one second adrift of Hamilton, such was the domination of Mercedes at the Northamptonshire track. They silver cars were 0.7s quicker than 2019, whereas Red Bull and Ferrari are both slower than they were in Q3 this time last year.

Ferrari opted to strip the downforce of their car here in a bid to make up for their power deficit, and that has helped their qualifying form, with Charles Leclerc taking a strong fourth, only a fraction behind Verstappen.

But team mate Sebastian Vettel’s miserable weekend continued, as he could only manage 10th, though he will at least start the race on the more durable medium tyre.

Lando Norris made it two British drivers in the top five, continuing his strong start to the season as he beat Racing Point’s Lance Stroll, with McLaren team mate Carlos Sainz two tenths further back in seventh. And both Renaults made it into Q3, with Daniel Ricciardo edging out Esteban Ocon.

But the day belonged to Hamilton, the Briton securing his 100th front row start for Mercedes in 144 races for the team. And pole sets him up perfectly for another win on home soil, given the last six Grands Prix have been won from P1. (F1)

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