Silverstone (United Kingdom) (AFP)
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) crushed the competition again on Saturday in qualifying for the British Grand Prix and will start from pole position on Sunday for the race alongside teammate Valtteri Bottas.
The six-time British world champion and title holder thus won his 7th pole position at Silverstone and the 91st of his career. He will also aim for a 7th victory on Sunday in his national Grand Prix which would bring him closer to a 7th world title which would make him the equal of the legendary Michael Schumacher.
But the British driver says he doesn't look at the records: "I don't really look at them and it's not necessarily the number that catches my attention. What matters is the position," he said after his feat.
The two Mercedes, dominant since the start of the season, are ahead of Red Bull of Max Verstappen and Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.
Hamilton however experienced a small fright with a spin during the 2nd portion of qualifying (Q2) which caused an interruption due to the gravel with which he had strewn the track.
But he recovered well in the third and final portion (Q3) by smashing the circuit record, set last year by Bottas.
The GP of Great Britain, 4th round of the season, takes place like the first three behind closed doors while Silverstone is usually famous for the animation provided by its fans.
"It's very empty here. Usually there are the sirens, the flags, the smoke bombs and the atmosphere is intense. We miss them (the fans) very much. But I hope they are happy with the result, "Hamilton said.
Bottas had an illusion until Q3. "Lewis did a lap that was close to perfect and I couldn't compete," he admitted. "It's tomorrow that counts and the car is very good," he was reassured, however.
The Finn, who won the first race of the season, is currently 2nd in the world championship with five points behind Hamilton who won the next two.
As for Verstappen, he again showed that Red Bulls are Mercedes' most serious rivals but conceded Hamilton more than a second.
"It's a big gap but we are trying to do the best we can. I hope for a good start tomorrow and I will try to follow them," said the Dutchman, resigning himself to the current domination of the "black arrows" .
- Good surprise for Leclerc -
The surprise came from Leclerc who managed to place his Ferrari in 4th position while the Italian cars had a difficult start to the season.
The Monegasque is well ahead of his teammate Sebastian Vettel (10th). The German driver already knows that he will leave the Scuderia next year to be replaced by Carlos Sainz.
The latter achieved the 7th fastest time on his McLaren on Saturday, ahead of his teammate Lando Norris (5th), the orange cars showing themselves very fast again after a slump during the previous Hungarian GP.
The Renaults both finished in the top 10 with 8th place for Australian Daniel Ricciardo and 9th for French Esteban Ocon, showing a return to form for the French team as they released modifications at Silverstone. The young Frenchman also hopes to be able to bring back "good points on Sunday", which would be welcome for the French team.
Canadian Lance Stroll took 6th place on his Racing Point. His teammate of the day, Nico Hülkenberg, had to settle for 13th place on the grid. The German replaces the Mexican Sergio Pérez, the first F1 driver to test positive for the coronavirus. Forced to go into quarantine, "Checo" will miss this event and probably the next one which will be held on August 9 at the same Silverstone circuit.
The F1 world championship calendar has been completely shaken by the coronavirus pandemic and many events have been canceled as others stand a week apart on the same circuits.
© 2020 AFP