SILVERSTONE, England – Lewis Hamilton prevailed in a tight battle with Formula One leader Sebastian Vettel to snatch pole position for the British Grand Prix on Saturday.
It’s the fourth consecutive pole for Hamilton at Silverstone, his sixth overall on the track, and his 50th for Mercedes.
“I gave it everything I could, it was so close with the Ferraris,” said Hamilton, whose comeback after being behind Vettel set off celebrations among fans. “I’m so grateful for the support.”
Vettel, who leads Hamilton by one point going into the 10th of 21 races, was faster than Hamilton until the British driver went again to finish 0.044 seconds ahead in a track record at Silverstone.
“It felt like the most pressurized lap I’ve ever had,” Hamilton said. “I’m happy for the fans. I hope I can do it for them tomorrow.”
Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari finished third, followed by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, while Austrian GP winner Max Verstappen was fifth and his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo sixth.
Vettel was first to clock a track record and it kept falling as drivers took advantage of soft tires on the new asphalt track.
“This is the fastest track in the world,” Hamilton said. “We’re flat-out through Turn One, we’re flat-out through Copse, it’s insane, to turn in there at 300-and-whatever-it-is-kilometers we’re doing.”
Hamilton will be chasing a fifth straight victory and a record sixth overall in his home race on Sunday.
Both Mercedes drivers failed to finish in Austria due to team errors, and Hamilton was grateful the problems they had in Spielberg have apparently been overcome.
Now it seems the biggest challenge will come from the Ferrari drivers. Raikkonen was less than one tenth of a second slower in final practice earlier Saturday, while Vettel was fastest in Friday’s second practice.
Williams’ woes continued in qualifying when Lance Stroll lost control and crashed out early in the session, with teammate Sergey Sirotkin following suit shortly afterward. The Russian was at least able to drive back to the pit lane, where Williams deputy team principal Claire Harris held her head in her hands.
Williams has only four points this season and Harris acknowledged on Friday she had been “dreading” the team’s home race.
Brendon Hartley, who crashed spectacularly in the morning practice, did not take part in qualifying. The New Zealander was fortunate to emerge unhurt after losing his front left wheel due to a suspected suspension failure, pitching the car off at speed in a shower of sparks and dust before slamming into the barriers.
Sunday’s race is the last one in F1’s inaugural triple-header after the Austrian and French GPs over the previous weekends.
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