Lewis Hamilton set fastest time in qualifying for tomorrow’s British Grand Prix for Mercedes after a lap that saw him beat team-mate Nico Rosberg by 0.4 seconds. Ross Brawn hailed it as Hamilton’s ‘best lap of the season’, and it came despite claims from the Briton that he was not comfortable in his Mercedes on Friday.
Q1 saw the usual suspects eliminated, but it was particularly disappointing for Max Chilton who, even with the added pressure of his first British Grand Prix, slumped to 22nd position and was 1.8 seconds slower than team-mate Jules Bianchi. Valtteri Bottas was the first big name casualty, but his own self-recriminations were somewhat dampened when the sister car of Pastor Maldonado finished Q2 in 16th, a single place ahead of his younger rival.
McLaren (perhaps unsurprisingly) failed to qualify through to Q3 despite a strong effort from Jenson Button to wind up 11th, but Ferrari had equal cause for discontent as Felipe Massa also went out after managing just 12th fastest time. Jean Eric Vergne was 13th after a mistake on his final hot lap, but was still quicker than Perez and Hulkenberg.
Paul Di Resta put in a massive effort to take 5th for his home race, behind the Red Bull duo of Vettel and Webber, but the real surprise of the day was Daniel Ricciardo who continued his strong weekend with 6th place ahead of the Lotus pairing of Grosjean and Raikkonen. Fernando Alonso inexplicably struggled and could only manage 10th fastest.
“I’m higher on the grid than I expected after practice. Yesterday, I didn’t think we’d qualify ahead of one Ferrari and just behind the two Lotuses. But I was much happier in qualifying than I’d been all weekend – we should be positive that we’ve improved the car. I think 11th was the best we could have realistically achieved today. Even if we’d got into Q3, we’d probably have been 10th; so starting 11th means I’ll have a new set of tyres and will start from the clean side of the grid. After Q2 I walked down the pit lane to the FIA scales, waving to the crowd. There were so many Union Jacks and rocket-red caps out there, and the fans have been unbelievably supportive all weekend. You always want to do a good job in front of your home crowd, so I want to say a big ‘thank-you’ to them for their support. You never know what will happen tomorrow: starting 11th isn’t great, but we can race well from there. I will drive my heart out for a good result.” Jenson Button
“I’m over the moon with the qualifying result and I think the whole team can feel very satisfied with fifth on the grid. The morning practice session was quite difficult so it feels great to come through and end up just behind two Mercedes and two Red Bulls. This track takes a lot of commitment and you need to build up your speed, but I think we saved our best till last – and that’s when it mattered. For tomorrow our tyre wear looks healthy and we’ve given ourselves a good opportunity to get in some clean air during the race. I will sleep well tonight and hope that we can have a straightforward race, and come away with lots of points.” Paul Di Resta
“Today was a challenging day. We had some work to do this morning trying to get the balance right and it felt like we had made a good step forward, but so did everyone else. We still have quite a bit of work to do but our race pace yesterday looked more promising, so that’s what we’ll focus on now. We’ll do what we can to have a better race tomorrow.” Max Chiton
“This afternoon, I struggled a little with the warm-up of my tyres during Q2; I lost temperature when I was stopped and weighed at the FIA scales. We’ve been a bit unlucky all day. Still, we were a lot closer today than we were yesterday. Even if it’s not apparent, we’ve definitely made some improvements, and I think we might have had the potential to slip into Q3 if we’d been a little bit luckier. Our race pace should be better than our qualifying pace. Tomorrow is still going to be difficult, but I’m positive we can go forwards from here.” Sergio Perez
“I haven’t been feeling comfortable in the car all weekend, so I was really happy to find a good lap and this feels fantastic. The team has done a phenomenal job and it’s a great reward for the guys here at the track but also back at base, especially as our two factories are so close to the track. But we know that tomorrow is another day and our Sunday performance isn’t quite as strong right now. Our long run pace looked ok yesterday and we were able to manage the tyres quite well. It’s going to be tough to keep Seb behind but we will give it everything we’ve got.” Lewis Hamilton
“The team are doing a great job and we are keeping up the development so a big thank you to everyone at the factories, many of whom are here today watching. My lap was good and starting from the front row is great but Lewis did a fantastic job today. I hope we have improved our race pace; it will be all about tyre management tomorrow and keeping the others behind us. I’m confident that we can get a good result.” Nico Rosberg
“It’s a long race, but I’m happy with today. Either Lewis found a short cut or he has something special round here, it was a phenomenal lap and he wasn’t in reach today. I was very happy with the lap I did at the end, it was very close with Mark also. We did what we could for the team and it’s always nice to position well in qualifying, especially around here – qualifying is good fun and I’m enjoying the high speed corners. We’ll see how we get on with the tyres tomorrow and with looking after them. I’m happy for the team today, our factory is very close to this track, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.” Sebastian Vettel
“We were up against it to get on the front row against the Mercs, they’re on another level as they have been for the last few events. It was disappointing to get pipped by Seb there at the end by a hundredth, it was very close. I was happy with the first part of my lap, but I could have done better in the last sector. We have a good balance for qualifying and race pace in terms of where we prioritised things. It should be an interesting race, we can get a good result from there.” Mark Webber
“We can consider this the worst Saturday of the season so far, having never finished so far down, but now we must react immediately to try and return to the form we showed at the start of the year. We definitely expected a lot more here, because this is a track that suits our car’s characteristics better than others. In Q3, we hesitated a bit over tyre choice: we went out on the Hards because they had worked well in free practice this morning and in Q1. Then we switched to Medium with the idea of just coming back to the pits if it did not go well but then we decided to finish the lap and nevertheless our rivals were quicker.” Fernando Alonso
TIMES – QUALIFYING – BRITISH GP
|5||Di Resta||Force India||+1.129|
|21||Van Der Garde||Caterham||1:35:481|