Valtteri Bottas beat Lewis Hamilton to pole position for Formula 1’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, as Nico Hulkenberg stunned Max Verstappen to take third for Racing Point.
The softer tyres for this weekend’s race at Silverstone led to an intriguing and unusual qualifying session, with all the top 10 runners making it through to Q3 on the medium tyres, apart from Verstappen who will now start the race on the hard rubber.
Mercedes also switched the rubber on its cars midway through the final segment of the session, after Hamilton had led the way on the first flying laps with a 1m25.284s on the soft tyres.
But after the leaders switched back to the medium rubber for their final efforts, Bottas turned things around, beating Hamilton to pole by 0.063s.
Although Hamilton ended the session with the fastest first and third sectors – and neither Mercedes drivers set the fastest time in the first sector on their final laps – Bottas purple effort in the second sector gave him the upper hand as he roared to his first pole since the season-opening Austrian GP.
Hulkenberg claimed third with a sensational final run to start third – as he again competes in place of Sergio Perez at Racing Point.
Verstappen did the opposite to the Mercedes drivers and switched from the mediums to the softs for his final run in Q3 and he improved but not by enough to take third from Hulkenberg.
Daniel Ricciardo was third after the first runs in Q3 as he completed the final segment of qualifying on the mediums throughout, but he did not improve on his second lap and was shuffled down to fifth.
Lance Stroll took sixth in the second Racing Point, ahead of Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Red Bull’s Alex Albon finished ninth and Lando Norris in the McLaren rounded out the top 10.
Esteban Ocon qualified 11th despite setting a personal best on his final lap in Q2 but the Renault driver faces a post-qualifying investigation for blocking George Russell as they ran onto the Wellington straight mid-way through Q1.
Sebastian Vettel tried to use the unfancied soft tyres in a bid to squeeze into the top 10 for Ferrari, but he wound up P12 saying on his team radio “that was all there was in this car”.
Carlos Sainz Jr was another runner to improve with their final Q2 effort but not go through as he wound up 13th – the first time a McLaren driver has not made it through to Q3 in 2020.
Romain Grosjean took 14th for Haas ahead of Russell, who made it out of Q1 for the fourth race in succession for Williams.
Russell only completed on run in Q2, an effort on the soft tyres that left him 15th and last in that segment.
In Q1, Daniil Kvyat was knocked out by Ocon’s late improvement at the last moment in the opening segment after he had had his final flying lap deleted for a track limits infringement at Stowe.
But that lap was not Kvyat’s personal best of the session, and he reported “something broke” on his slower – and subsequently deleted – final tour.
Kevin Magnussen and Grosjean set their initial times in Q1 on the mediums, as did Russell, before all the rivers switched to the soft tyre.
But while Grosjean made it through to Q2, Magnussen was knocked out in the final flurry of laps, with Nicholas Latifi for Williams and the Alfa Romeo duo of Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen bringing up the rear of the field.
70th Anniversary GP – Qualifying Results
|3||Nico Hulkenberg||Racing Point/Mercedes||0.928s|
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Honda||1.022s|
|6||Lance Stroll||Racing Point/Mercedes||1.274s|
|9||Alexander Albon||Red Bull/Honda||1.515s|
|12||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren/Renault||1.929s|
|19||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||3.279s|
|20||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||3.339s|