In the week it was announced that Silverstone would host the British Grand Prix for five more years, the iconic track played host to another close qualifying session.
I’ve written many times over the course of the season about track evolution, and it was a factor once again this afternoon, particularly because the track has been recently resurfaced. However, unlike in previous qualifying sessions, the teams were well aware that lap times would get quicker as the session went on.
One team for which track evolution couldn’t help, though, was Williams, and they will line up on the back row of the grid tomorrow. It was an especially disappointing performance for the team given they are celebrating the 40th anniversary of their first victory at Silverstone.
Haas were another team who didn’t perform well. Romain Grosjean will start 14th and Kevin Magnussen 16th tomorrow – a big difference compared to their last qualifying performance in Austria, where Magnussen qualified fifth.
Racing Point, whose factory is across the road from the track, didn’t do well either, with Lance Stroll eliminated in Q1 for the 14th time in a row. His teammate, Sergio Perez, just about squeezed into Q2 but couldn’t progress any further, qualifying 15th.
With the exception of George Russell, all of the British drivers were involved in Q3 – in this I include Alexander Albon, who races with a Thai licence but was born in London and so can claim the British Grand Prix to be his home even.
Both Lando Norris and Albon managed to outqualify Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, but it was Daniel Ricciardo who got the coveted best-of-the-rest spot, outqualifying his teammate for the first time at Silverstone in the turbo-hybrid era.
Out front the gap between pole and second place was just 0.006 seconds. Valtteri Bottas held onto his provisional pole position to take his fourth pole of the season ahead of his teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton did make a mistake with his first lap in Q3, going wide through Brooklands and therefore forced to take a tighter line through Luffield, which lost him 0.3 seconds to his Bottas. He was able to claw back some of this deficit back the second time around, but he just couldn’t take what would have been his seventh pole position at Silverstone.
Bottas told David Coulthard, “I knew the first lap was good but it was not perfect. I should have improved in the second run but I’m glad that it was enough.”
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 13, 2019
Sunday could bring a good battle at the front as Hamilton will most definitely try to get past his teammate as he aims to claim a record-breaking sixth win at Silverstone.
Whatever the result, it’s going to be a fantastic day for British sport, with England seeking to win their first cricket World Cup final against New Zealand, Lewis Hamilton attempting to win his sixth British Grand Prix and Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer battling it out in the Wimbledon men’s singles final.
Whichever one you choose to watch, enjoy what’ll be a super Sunday.