SILVERSTONE, England – Lewis Hamilton said all week he was uncomfortable in his car. When it mattered most at Silverstone, though, he delivered a blazing lap to take pole position for the British Grand Prix.
He won his 28th career pole, one less than Juan Manuel Fangio, with a time of 1:29.607 on his final lap, besting Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, who clocked the fastest time of 1:30.059 moments before.
Three-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel was third, just ahead of his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber.
“Storming job, Lewis, storming job,” the Mercedes team said over the radio as Hamilton crossed the line.
Fans, many waving British flags and holding signs in support of the home drivers, were on their feet cheering in a great homecoming for the 2008 F1 champion who made his name at McLaren but angered many supporters by switching to Mercedes this season. Critics predicted Hamilton would fail and McLaren’s Jenson Button would fill his shoes. Instead, Hamilton has earned three podiums compared to none for Button.
“It feels incredible to be on pole, just like it did back in 2007,” said Hamilton, who won the race here in 2008 on the way to the overall title.
“My lap in Q3 was a lap for the fans out there around the circuit,” Hamilton said. “I haven’t been feeling comfortable in the car all weekend, so I was really happy to find a good lap and this feels fantastic. The team has done a phenomenal job and it’s a great reward for the guys here at the track but also back at base, especially as our two factories are so close to the track. But we know that tomorrow is another day and our Sunday performance isn’t quite as strong right now.”
Rosberg, who was fastest in practice and had been strong in recent weeks in winning Monaco and earning pole in Spain, said he relished the competition with former karting rival Hamilton.
“It’s a big battle we have. Usually it’s close, not today,” Rosberg said. “It’s a really big push for the team that we are pushing each other all the time. It’s fantastic momentum we have at the moment.”
Vettel was full of praise for his rivals.
“They are bloody quick in qualifying. They seem to be in a different world on Saturday afternoon,” Vettel said. “They manage tires pretty well which allows them to get a good lap.”
The German believes he still has a good chance to win, noting that Mercedes struggles to transform its qualifying success into wins. Rosberg took pole in Bahrain but Vettel won the race.
“It’s a long race,” Vettel said. “I was very happy with the lap I did at the end, it was very close with Mark also. We did what we could for the team and it’s always nice to position well in qualifying, especially around here — qualifying is good fun and I’m enjoying the high-speed corners.”
With 12 races remaining, Vettel has a 36-point lead over Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.
The surprises of qualifying were Paul di Resta of Force India, who finished a career-best fifth, and Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo, who was sixth.
But di Resta’s joy was short-lived. His car was found to be underweight and he was excluded from qualifying. He will start at the back of the grid. Ricciardo moves up to 5th as a result.