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Stunning Hamilton denies Bottas Silverstone pole

NEWS STORY
01/08/2020

Ahead of today's qualifying session the air temperature is 22.2 degrees C, while the track temperature is 38.1 degrees.

In addition to the fact that it is much cooler than yesterday, there is the threat of rain, though in all honesty the dark clouds that threatened earlier appear to be moving away.

The changing conditions over the past 24 hours mean that it is difficult to discern the true pecking order, though it would be ludicrous to write-off Hamilton at this stage in proceedings even if he hasn't topped the timesheets in any of the practice sessions.

Yesterday's heat didn't suit the Mercedes, while this morning the Briton appeared to be managing his tyres.

Though the local hero might not be threatened by Verstappen, he is going to face stiff opposition from his Mercedes teammate - and 2019 pole-sitter, Bottas.

Red Bull's cause hasn't been helped by the various issues Albon has encountered, though a strong performance this afternoon would give the youngster a much-needed confidence boost.

In referring to the pandemic, the word the sport likes to use a lot is "fluid", and that could certainly be applied to the midfield battle this weekend.

Indeed, fluid doesn't begin to change the ever shifting fortunes of the teams, not helped by yesterday's red flag in FP2, which meant a number of drivers didn't get to carry of their qualifying sims.

Add in today's changed conditions, and it really is a lottery trying to pick out who's hot and who's not.

Thus far, Vettel has had a stinker of a weekend, and on the evidence thus far will do well to make it to Q3.

Racing Point continues to look good, as do McLaren, Renault and AlphaTauri, while, sadly, Ferrari must be included in the midfield struggle... possibly for the foreseeable future according to the company chairman.

Other than the battle to get through Q2 it will be interesting to see who falls at the first hurdle, with Raikkonen, Russell and the Haas pair in with a chance of causing an upset.

In the moments before the session gets underway, the wind becomes just a little bit more gusty, having caused major wobbles for Vettel and Hamilton earlier.

Furthermore, as more clouds appear in the distance, race control warns of a 60% chance of rain.

Grosjean, Kvyat, Giovinazzi, Magnussen and Raikkonen are first out, all sporting softs.

Raikkonen posts the first time of the afternoon, a 1:27.941 but this is instantly beaten by his teammate who posts 27.924.

Magnussen posts 27.814 and Grosjean 27.890, but both are demoted when Kvyat crosses the line at 26.819.

More and more drivers head out, though Ocon and the Bulls sit tight.

A big wobble in Beckets for Hulkenberg as Gasly goes quickest in S1.

Stroll is on a hot lap as Hulkenberg picks up pace.

Gasly goes quickest with a 26.657, but is demoted when Stroll posts 26.555 and Leclerc 26.550.

Vettel can only manage 6th, the German posting 26.951.

As Hamilton goes top (26.431), Norris goes for a long off-track excursion. Moments later Bottas posts 26.092.

Ocon and the Bulls head out.

Ricciardo goes ninth, ahead of Sainz, Russell and Magnussen.

Albon posts 26.643 to go fifth, but is demoted when his teammate takes second with a 26.115.

Shades of Monza 2019 as the drivers are backing one another up in an effort to get some clear track.

Raikkonen improves to 15th (27.569), but there's a long way to go.

Norris asks his crew to "keep an eye" on his floor following his off, the Briton admitting that he "bottomed badly".

He subsequently posts 26.855 to go tenth - exactly the same time as his teammate.

Having improved to 15th, Grosjean has his time deleted and drops back to 20th.

Bottas raises the bar with a 25.801 while Hamilton improves to 25.900.

Sainz complains of being impeded by Albon.

With less than three minutes remaining, eleven, twelve... drivers head out for the final assault, among them Vettel.

Currently, Magnussen, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Latifi and Grosjean comprise the drop zone.

Hamilton also heads out, though probably simply to scrub a set of tyres.

As Raikkonen looks set to improve, Latifi is off at Luffield after appearing to apply too much power too early, thereby bringing out the yellows.

Gasly improves to fourth, but is then demoted by Hulkenberg.

Magnussen improves but misses the cut, unlike Russell who goes ninth with a 26.732.

Vettel goes seventh but is demoted when Ocon goes eighth.

Quickest is Bottas, ahead of Hamilton, Verstappen, Stroll, Hulkenberg, Gasly, Ocon, Vettel, Leclerc and Albon.

We lose Magnussen, Giovinazzi, Raikkonen, Grosjean and Latifi.

Russell is under investigation for failing to slow under the yellows brought out following his teammate's off. "I definitely backed off," declares the Williams driver, "you'll see it on the trace."

As is ever the case, the lights go green for Q2, but there is no mad rush to get to work.

After a couple of minutes, Hulkenberg breaks the deadlock along with Albon. Both are on mediums.

They are joined by the Mercedes pair and Verstappen.

Leclerc is also on mediums while Vettel is on softs, as are Ricciardo, Sainz, Russell and Norris.

Albon posts 26.580 with Hulkenberg crossing the line at 26.645 moments later.

No sooner has Verstappen raise the bar with a 26.144, than Bottas knocks it out of the park with a 25.015.

A big, big 360 spin for Hamilton at Luffield, and in the process he dumps a load of gravel on the track.

The session is red-flagged.

The red flag is more bad news for the world champion who was about to try another hot lap.

Under the red flag, it's: Bottas, 1.129s ahead of Verstappen, Leclerc, Ocon, Sainz, Norris, Vettel, Stroll, Albon and Hulkenberg.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Silverstone, here.

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