F1 2021 British Grand Prix Qualifying Report – Hamilton roars ahead for P1 in front of a home crowd
It feels wrong – no, not wrong, odd – to report on qualifying at this time. It probably feels odd to the teams as well, given the re-configured timetable for this weekend, as sprint qualifying makes its debut tomorrow, the 3-stage format we’ve come to love moved to a Friday evening slot.
After a dominant practice, all 1 hour of it, Verstappen topped the times with Lewis Hamilton’s best practice effort outpaced by the Dutchman by nearly 8 tenths as well as a certain Lando Norris. At least it was 2 Brits in the top 3 at Silverstone.
Could anyone unseat mighty Max for P1, not pole, for tomorrow’s sprint race? Let’s find out.
Norris set the pace right off the bat, putting nearly a half-second between him and his team-mate in his first attempt. Hamilton quickly showed the fellow Brit what real speed was in his initial run, a second between the Mercedes and the McLaren, before Max’s Red Bull gave him the same treatment by 0.4 of a second. 0.4 is formidable even on a run when you don’t have to bail out the throttle at the last corner. Car 33 made it to Q2 on only a single set of tyres.
Leclerc was putting together a second lap faster than his first until it all fell apart at the last hurdle, a boot full of throttle taking him more towards Oxford than the finish line.
The Alfas were looking quick before the last runs, Giovinazzi in 9th and Raikkonen in 12th. Giovinazzi’s effort was good enough for 12th and Q2.
Russell was hanging around the drop zone with half a minute to go, before a lap good enough for 14th place maintained his status as Mr. Friday & Saturday? Maybe the nickname needs work.
Vettel banked his place in Q2 with a 5th place run, as Perez took P2 before being usurped by Leclerc and then Hamilton.
Eliminated: Tsunoda (16th), Raikkonen (17th), Latifi (18th), Schumacher (19th), Mazepin (20th)
The Mercedes were first out of the pits, perhaps putting on a show or maybe just wanting the heat from the rapidly cooling tarmac. Hamilton inevitably topped the times on his first run (Verstappen hadn’t completed his yet) though not without some notable understeer through a number of medium and low speed corners.
Verstappen’s first run was notable closer to the 7 time champion’s, only 0.098s ahead this time around. The Ferraris left their initial runs late, maybe trying to take the space available over a heap of traffic. That may have not been with the full agreement of one Monegasque, noting the need for a tow on his laps over the radio.
Last runs of Q2, all cars were on track, though the cheers came in particular for Hamilton, P1 with a 1.26.023. That was then immediately surpassed by Russell, showing his salt with a P7 in the Williams. Verstappen could only bring the gap to 0.292s on his last run, leaving it all to play for in Q3.
Norris and Ricciardo scraped into the shoot-out as Stroll became a notable exception, qualifying in only P15 at the team’s home race.
Eliminated: Alonso (11th), Gasly (12th), Ocon (13th), Giovinazzi (14th), Stroll (15th).
Given Q2’s result, it was all teed up to be an electric shoot-out for P1 in tomorrow’s sprint race.
A slight change to this last session of qualifying, the drivers only permitted 1 set of softs each for the final session.
Hamilton, perhaps giving away how he got the upper hand of Red Bull’s golden boy, mentioning how he refused to give Verstappen the tow. On the first runs it appeared he hadn’t got his wish though if the Dutchman had the tow, it appeared it wasn’t worth much, a tenth slower through sector 1. The middle sector was where his strength lay, 2 tenths faster, though it didn’t help as understeer in Club left him 0.172s down.
Cheers erupted for all 3 Brits as Russell, Hamilton and Norris were roared home as F1’s 3 lions. The Williams must have run on noise more than petrol, a jubilant crowd helping him to P8.
After the romantic image back to the main event, the prize fight, the slugfest. Hamilton versus Verstappen.
Hamilton was setting purple sectors all over his last run before a kick of oversteer slowed him down through Vale leaving him unable to improve. Vertappen’s ball. Maybe it was pressure, maybe it was going off tyres, but Max Verstappen couldn’t improve either as understeer hampered his efforts and put him only on P2. Lewis Hamilton takes P1 for the sprint and sets up a mighty qualifying race with his teammate Bottas behind.