Brilliant Bottas narrowly beats Hamilton to Silverstone pole

Qualifying top three in parc ferme (L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1, second; Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1, pole position; Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari, third.
© XPB 

Valtteri Bottas narrowly succeeded in beating Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton to pole position for the 2019 British Grand Prix.

The Finn was just six thousandths of a second quicker than the home favourite as the Silver Arrows pulled off another front row lock-out.

Ferrari looked to have the pace early on, but changing conditions appeared to put them on the back foot.

Charles Leclerc dug deep on his final run to salvage third place ahead of the two Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly, but Sebastian Vettel slumped to sixth place on the grid.

Circuit atmosphere - banners for Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.

After the scorching temperatures and high altitudes of Spielberg two weeks ago, it was back down to earth with a bump on both counts at Silverstone. The British summer served up cool, heavily overcast conditions on Saturday afternoon, although at least there was little sign of a recurrence of the light rain that had plagued final practice as the cars headed out for Q1.

Q1: Hamilton pips Leclerc, Magnussen and Kvyat miss the cut

Among the first cars to go out were the Alfa Romeos of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi, with the Finn edging his team mate with a first effort of 1:27.501s. This was swiftly bettered by Toro Rosso's Alexander Albon and then by Haas' Romain Grosjean and McLaren's Carlos Sainz in quick succession bringing the benchmark down to 1:26.689s. Sainz' team mate Lando Norris subsequently took a further six tenths off that figure.

Waiting for the track to 'rubber up', the top teams had held back while the others came out to play. Alone among all the teams, Ferrari opted to send their cars out not on the soft compound but on mediums: Sebastian Vettel was unable to beat Norris on his first push lap, but by contrast Charles Leclerc was immediately threw down the gauntlet with a new target time of 1:25.628s, already two tenths quicker than last year's pole.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W10.

Lewis Hamilton accepted that challenge and responded by shaving 0.115s off the Monegasque's time to go top on his own first run. His Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas wasn't quite so swift, but still good enough to slip into third place just ahead of Vettel's second run. Max Verstappen then put Red Bull into the top three, significantly faster than team mate Pierre Gasly who was only eighth quickest behind the two McLarens.

At the other end, it was no surprise to see the two Williams cars firmly mired in the elimination zone, George Russell and Robert Kubica over two seconds off Hamilton's current best. Both Racing Point drivers Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll were also looking at risk of missing the cut, but ahead of them there was only two tenths covering 12th to 16th in the battle between Grosjean, Raikkonen, Nico Hulkenberg, Kevin Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat to make it through to Q2.

Guarding against any major changes in the track conditions, all but the top three came back out for a second run. Grosjean was able to improve to ninth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, while further down Perez was able to claw his way to safety in 15th place which demoted Magnussen and Kvyat into the bottom five and onto the sidelines for the rest of the session alongside Stroll, Russell and Kubica.

Sergio Perez (MEX) Racing Point F1 Team RP19.

Q2: Ferrari goes soft to put Leclerc on top, as Vettel struggles

Conditions were growing darker and cooler - but paradoxically more humid - as pit lane opened for the start of Q2. Signalling their intentions for Sunday's race, which is supposed to be sunnier and warmer, Mercedes dispatched their drivers on the medium compound, as did Red Bull. Ferrari made the same choice for Leclerc, but Vettel was still sitting in the garage as the initial times were set.

First to complete laps were the Silver Arrows, Hamilton's 1:25.840s just half a tenth quicker than Bottas. However, it was slower than Leclerc had posted on the same compound in the first round and Leclerc hammered home the point by going top with a new run clocking in at 1:25.646s. Meanwhile Gasly was fourth fastest ahead of Verstappen, followed by the soft-shod Ricciardo, Norris and Sainz

Vettel had been late to join the party and came out on a used set of soft tyres from practice. As a result, his first flying lap was nine tenths slower than that of his team mate and only good enough for eighth place to split the McLarens, putting him at risk of dropping out.

Seemingly unconvinced with the pace they were getting from the mediums, the teams made a mass change to soft tyres for the second run - the sole hold-out being Hamilton. Leclerc actually improved his time on the soft tyre and went top on 1:25.548s ahead of Bottas and Hamilton, meaning he will start tomorrow's race on the red-walled compound.

A flurry of improvements further down the order briefly hustled Vettel into the elimination zone, before he finally completed a new push lap to put him safely into fifth place ahead of Verstappen. However Vettel set this time on the soft tyre, just as his team mate had, sealing the team's race strategy for both drivers.

Also safely through were Ricciardo, Norris, Hulkenberg and Albon, meaning that the five drivers eliminated were Alfa Romeo pair Giovinazzi and Raikkonen along with Sainz, Grosjean and Perez.

Sebastian Vettel (GER), Scuderia Ferrari

Q3: Bottas beats Hamilton, but Ferrari loses momentum

Hamilton and Bottas were straight onto new sets of soft tyres for the start of the top ten pole shoot-out round. Hamilton ran slightly deep into Brooklands during his run and duly lost time, allowing Bottas to claim provisional pole by a quarter of a second with a lap of 1:25.093s.

Verstappen followed up with the third-fastest time, but there was a puzzling sudden lack of pace from Ferrari with Leclerc only managing fourth fastest and Vettel checking into sixth behind Gasly. Ricciardo and Hulkenberg were next best, until Norris was able to split the two Renaults with his own run.

There was still time for one last run, with the rain still holding off but temperatures were notably warming up and increasingly humid. That seemed to impact the fortunes of many of the front runners, with neither Bottas not able to improve his time and Hamilton falling six thousandths of a second short of displacing his team mate for pole.

Instead the momentum appeared to be swinging back to Ferrari, with Leclerc finding more time in his final run - but not by enough to dislodge the all-Mercedes front row. Instead he had to settle for third ahead of Verstappen and Gasly, while Vettel found himself unable to find any extra time to improve on sixth ahead of Ricciardo and Norris. A late push from Albon saw the Toro Rosso displace Hulkenberg for ninth.

Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates his pole position in qualifying parc ferme

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