Hamilton storms to Silverstone pole


This morning's session had all the makings of being something very special, and then the Weather Gods decided to have some fun.

With the threat of rain - or British summer as it's known locally - hanging over the second half of the session, the teams opted to some Q3 sims quite early.

It soon became clear that despite the obvious advantage enjoyed by Mercedes yesterday, Ferrari's latest engine upgrade appears to have closed the gap, despite the German team also having an upgrade.

The top three, Hamilton, Vettel and Bottas were covered by just 0.074s, but then the weather slowly began to take a turn for the worse.

An already intriguing weekend was given added spice overnight with news of grid penalties for Bottas and Ricciardo, both drivers in receipt of new gearboxes, while poor old Alonso's grid demotion is now almost a custom.

Even before the rain arrived conditions were difficult, with the wind almost literally blowing a number of drivers off course yesterday.

Behind the leading three, Raikkonen was fourth, albeit 0.7s off the pace, ahead of Hulkenberg - yes, Nico Hulkenberg - Ricciardo, Grosjean - yes, Romain Grosjean - Verstappen, Massa and Vandoorne.

While there has been so further rain between the session, due to the cool temperatures the track remains damp. Race Control suggests there is a 90% chance of rain over the next hour.

Ahead of Q1, the air temperature is 16 degrees, while the track temperature is 22 degrees.

This is England in July... and Zak Brown wants to do pre-season testing here... in February. Yeh, right!

In the final moments before Q1 it starts to rain... or "change in climatic conditions" as Race Control would have it.

Ahead of the lights, Verstappen and Ricciardo are already waiting, both on the Inters.

"Very fine drops," Ricciardo is told, "we expect it to be greasy". Nonetheless, a number of drivers - indeed quite a few, including the Mercedes duo - are on supersofts.

Asked what he thinks, Verstappen, so slouch in the wet, insists "it's Inters".

"It is very slippery," reports Bottas.

Some teams are gambling on a split strategy, one driver on slicks the other on Inters.

On Inters, Vettel reports: "Genuinely the way to go".

As those on slicks pit for Inters the rain increases in intensity. "It's raining, raining, raining," warns Raikkonen.

Ricciardo posts 42.966, Hulkenberg 43.027 and Verstappen 43.166 as Sainz is off at Copse. Raikkonen also struggling to remain on track.

As Hamilton runs wide in Village, Hamilton is told there will be two or three minutes of rain after which the track will begin to dry. Not at these temperatures it won't.

Vettel goes fourth (44.059) but nobody is getting close to Ricciardo's best.

Which is probably just as well as the Australian is off track at T8, the Red Bull driver reporting a turbo issue.

As Hamilton goes third (43.13), the session is red flagged as Ricciardo's car is recovered.

The clock is stopped with 10:07 remaining, Wehrlein and Ericsson still to post a time. The Sauber duo, along with Stroll, Magnussen and Palmer comprise the drop zone.

The turbo issue brings Ricciardo's run of 38 appearances in Q3 to an end.

The session resumes and as drivers head out they are all on the Inters.

"We're expecting around three more minutes of rain and then it will ease off slightly," Raikkonen is told.

Raikkonen improves from 14th to 5th with a 43.315 as Vettel and Hamilton both look set to go a lot quicker.

Indeed, the Briton posts 41.296 as Perez goes second (42.009).

A 42.196 sees Bottas go third, only to be demoted when Vetel bangs in a 40.056.

Ocon goes sixth (42.579) as Ricciardo plummets down the standings to 8th... 9th... 10th.

As Verstappen goes quickest in S1, Alonso slips to 20th.

Told there will be no more rain, Vettel reports that it is still very wet at a number of corners.

Verstappen posts 38.912 as Hamilton improves to 39.69.

"I'm thinking of stopping for dries," says Alonso. "OK, let's give it a go," he is told. Ocon makes a similar switch.
A late improvement for Stroll who goes 12th (42.573), as Alonso is confident he made it to the line to begin his flying lap before the chequered flag.

Ocon improves to 5th (39.738) on the slicks, while Alonso posts 37.598 to go quickest, much to the delight of the crowd. Brilliant, brave and typically Fernando.

Quickest is Alonso, ahead of Verstappen, Hamilton, Hulkenberg, Bottas, Ocon, Vettel, Vandoorne, Raikkonen and Sainz.

We lose Stroll, Magnussen, Wehrlein, Ericsson and Ricciardo.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Silverstone, here.

The lights go green and Verstappen, Bottas, Kvyat and Grosjean head out, all on slicks. The Finn on softs the rest of supers.

An early wobble for Verstappen in T9, the Red Bull driver doing well to keep it all under control.

Alonso advised that it will remain dry, apart from a little drizzle, for the next ten minutes.

Verstappen posts 33.917 with Bottas positing 35.824 moments later.

A 33.172 sees Grosjean go top, only to be demoted by Raikkonen's 32.171.

Vettel makes it a Ferrari 1-2 with a 32.186, only to be toppled by Hamilton (31.145) and then Hulkenberg (31.085).

Perez takes fourth with a 31.455 moments after Bottas took third with a 31.258. The Finn subsequently improving with a 29.687.

Vettel goes second (29.907) and Verstappen third (3.252), only to be demoted when Hamilton responds with a 29.097.

With 6:52 remaining, we've yet to see a timer from Sainz.

Stewards have noted an incident involving Perez and Vettel at T9.

"What the hell was Perez doing," asks Vettel, "that's the second time now, he needs to watch his mirrors, he did it in Austria as well."

As Sainz heads out, along with Perez, Grosjean, Palmer and Massa, he makes up the drop zone.

The stewards feel no further investigation of the Perez incident is warranted.

Grosjean improves to ninth, but will it be enough?

Verstappen improves to second with a 29.431 as Bottas is put off by Massa and runs wide.

Raikkonen goes quickest in the first two sectors, finally crossing the line at 28.992. Moments later, teammate Vettel posts 28.978.

Vandoorne posts 30.940 to go ninth.

As the chequered flag is waved, all 15 drivers are on track.

Vandoorne improves to eighth and Ocon sixth.

Hamilton is quickest in the first two sectors, as Palmer improves to tenth.

Hamilton crosses the line at 27.893 as Perez improves and thereby demotes Palmer.

Quickest is Hamilton, ahead of Bottas, Vettel, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg, Verstappen, Ocon, Perez, Grosjean and Vandoorne.

We lose Palmer, Kvyat, Alonso, Sainz and Massa.

Q3 gets underway and Hamilton leads Bottas and Ocon out on to the track.

Soon all but Verstappen and Grosjean are on track, all on the supers.

As the Mercedes duo begin their first flying laps, Hamilton has the edge. Bottas posts 27.580 but the Briton responds with a 27.231. Ocon posts 29.525.

A 29.238 sees Perez go third, thereby demoting his teammate, while Vettel posts 27.430 to go second and Raikkonen posts 27.622 to take fourth.

A gain Hulkenberg impresses, the German posting 28.920 to go fifth.

Verstappen takes fifth from Hulkenberg with a 28.301, but is 1.070s off the pace.

The drivers return to the pits, where tyres will be changed for the final assault.

Grosjean complains that he was blocked by Hamilton. "Unbelievable," declares the Frenchman. "Mercedes need to get a better GPS!" he adds.

Vandoorne and the Pink Panthers get the final assault underway.

The Stewards are investigating the Hamilton/Grosjean incident.

A mistake at T3 means Bottas' lap is ruined before its really begun, the Finn backs off and aborts the lap.

Meanwhile, Hamilton goes quicker in S1 and again in S2. He crosses the line at 26.600.

Raikkonen improves to 27.147 while Vettel can only manage 27.356 having made a mistake in S2.

Verstappen consolidates fifth and Hulkenberg sixth, while Bottas will start ninth due to his penalty.

"What was that on the out lap," complains Vettel. "What a **** spot to be in!"

A typically blistering from Hamilton, that left his nearest rival over half-a-second adrift and averaged over 152 mph.

However, there's a cloud hanging over the Briton in the shape of that incident with Grosjean.

To recap, Hamilton starts from the front row tomorrow alongside Raikkonen, with Vettel third, ahead of Bottas, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Perez, Ocon, Vandoorne and Grosjean.

Palmer will start eleventh, ahead of Kvyat, Alonso, Sainz, Massa, Stroll, Magnussen, Wehrlein, Ericsson and Ricciardo.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Silverstone, here.

Article from Pitpass (http://www.pitpass.com):

Published: 15/07/2017
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