Lewis Hamilton Q&A: I enjoyed qualifying pressure:
The first of his two Q3 lap times was deleted for exceeding track limits, but the second was good enough to give Lewis Hamilton pole position for the 2016 Formula 1 British Grand Prix, as he and Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg dominated Saturday’s qualifying.
Hamilton was over three-tenths quicker than Rosberg, but no one else could get within a second of the world champion. Red Bull were the Silver Arrows’ nearest rivals, with Max Verstappen third and Daniel Ricciardo fourth.
Kimi Raikkonen out-qualified Ferrari team mate Sebastian Vettel in fifth and sixth respectively, with the latter set to drop five grid places for a gearbox change. Valtteri Bottas was seventh for Williams, with Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso completing the top ten.
Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson did not participate in qualifying following his heavy crash in final practice. The Swede climbed unaided from his wrecked car and was taken to hospital for routine medical checks. Though he was subsequently declared okay by his team, he did not return to the circuit in time for the session.
The afternoon’s opening Q1 phase saw Jenson Button’s hopes dashed right at the end of Q1. As the British driver sat helpless waiting for McLaren to remedy a loose rear wing, faster runs by Renault’s Kevin Magnussen and Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat eased him down to 17th on 1m 32.788s, just 0.059s slower than the Russian.
Button’s compatriot Jolyon Palmer also failed to make it through to Q2, the Renault racer’s 1m 32.905s being two-tenths off his Danish team mate’s time. Rio Haryanto just edged out Manor partner Pascal Wehrlein, with 1m 33.098s to 1m 33.151s, as Felipe Nasr struggled to 1m 33.544s in the sole Sauber to run.
As Hamilton headed Rosberg by 0.727s in Q2 and Raikkonen made a meal of taking sixth place after a spin at Club and an off at Turn 3, Sainz’s late improvement to eighth pushed Sergio Perez out of Q3. The Mexican had lapped his Force India in 1m 31.875s. Behind him, Felipe Massa struggled to 12th on 1m 32.002s for Williams, just ahead of Romain Grosjean on 1m 32.050s for Haas. His team mate, Esteban Gutierrez was next on 1m 32.241s, followed by Kvyat on 1m 32.306s and Magnussen on 1m 37.060s.
Hamilton again beat Rosberg on their first runs in Q3, with 1m 29.339s to 1m 29.606s, but then came sensation as the stewards decided that two wheels over the kerb at Copse was a track limits violation and docked the Englishman’s time. It all came down to the last runs.
And Hamilton rose to the challenge, going faster still with 1m 29.287s as Rosberg’s response was a slower time, 1m 29.715s. The crowd were very happy.
Verstappen again bettered Ricciardo, 1m 30.313s to 1m 30.618s – the Dutchman had a slower lap of 1m 30.925s deleted for a track limits violation in Copse – as Raikkonen took fifth with 1m 30.881s ahead of subdued partner Vettel, on 1m 31.490s. Bottas was seventh on 1m 31.557s, ahead of Hulkenberg on 1m 32.172s (a 1m 31.920s was deleted for running wide at Copse), Sainz on 1m 31.989s and Alonso on 1m 32.343s after the Spaniard had a lap of 1m 31.687s disallowed, again for exceeding track limits at Copse.
Thus with penalties applied, the provisional grid lines up as follows: Hamilton, Rosberg; Verstappen, Ricciardo; Raikkonen Bottas; Hulkenberg, Sainz; Alonso, Perez; Vettel, Massa; Grosjean, Gutierrez; Kvyat, Magnussen; Button, Palmer; Haryanto.
EXTREME CONVERSATION WITH LEWIS HAMILTON:
Having been quickest in every session leading up to qualifying, it looked like Lewis Hamilton might have lost his grip on pole position when his first lap time was deleted for exceeding track limits. But under intense pressure – and with an expectant home crowd watching on – the world champion pulled together a superb lap to beat team mate Nico Rosberg to P1. Afterwards he explained how he did it…
Q: How much pressure was on you today in qualifying to pull off this last fast lap after your earlier time was deleted?
Lewis Hamilton: As much pressure as you can possibly imagine, and that is basically it; so it was a lot of pressure. I quite liked it for some reason. I feel like I have been under pressure all my life in different scenarios, as we all have, and I do feel comfortable in that scenario. It is not that kind of pressure that you have if you are in an argument with somebody, as I do not like confrontations and I feel uncomfortable. In the car it has got to do with confidence and the belief in your ability. For example in Austria last year I think I got a lap taken away in qualifying and then the pressure was on as I was behind on time. Usually I try to bank a lap in, and then the next lap you can push a little harder to find more time. So if you are behind on time and you want to go for pole you have to go out and do two tenths more or even three, because the other guys will go faster too. So generally I have the feeling that I do things the harder way, and I do not know why, but I guess this is how it has been in my life.
Q: Your fast laps in Q2 and Q3 were 1.5 seconds quicker than you went in Q1. Were you saving up some time? Where did it come from?
LH: It was a really nice lap. First of all I had not put all three sectors together throughout the weekend, so I knew I had three tenths somewhere. So I was very close to Nico (Rosberg). But I knew that if I could pull all three sectors together I’d be three or even four tenths ahead. I also found quite a bit of time in Maggotts and Becketts as I got the line perfect – I’d never had so much speed there before. I could go flat out, which is normally not the case. It felt like a pinball machine! If you hit the right spots you get the maximum points. (laughs)
Q: Do you have the feeling that the race will be decided at the first corner?
LH: Not at all! It is not so easy to overtake here, that is for sure. So I hope it is decided already after the first corner: in my favour! But it never is a sure thing here, as the conditions always shift and the tyre management will be key tomorrow. This is such a hardcore circuit and my appreciation has grown so much over the past few years. Especially when you are on the old turf, you see what the old drivers have been driving, and you feel as if you are part of the history. The new part doesn’t feel like it has any history, but as soon as you get onto the older stuff, such as Brooklands and Copse, it is just perfect. I hope that they will never change any of those.
Q: Do historic tracks like Silverstone inspire you more than others to drive great laps, although you are pushing one hundred per cent everywhere?
LH: There are definitely tracks that have corners and combinations of corners that are more thrilling and require more commitment, opposed to other tracks that have somewhat easier corners. Generally it is the older tracks that hold those corners, although I don’t know why that is the case. It is probably about the character. I compare it to old cars: the new ones are maybe built more efficiently and budget orientated, but the old ones are built with much more character. I cannot wait to get to Hungary for example. That is a circuit with great character and amazing corners; the same goes for Spa and Monza!
Q: Now with pole position in your pocket, what are your plans for this evening?
LH: I’ll still try to think of what to do. I have got my motorhome here, which I love. I had it built, and it is amazing. There is everything in there that I ever wanted in a home. From the outside it is pearl white – it matches my road car. I intended to do it red, as I do most of my things, but that was really expensive and if it got damaged you would need to repaint the entire thing. I also might hop into London, I really don’t know. Then again I think I will have my dogs come up. So plans, plans, plans…
CONGRATS TO LEWIS HAMILTON ON THE NUMBER 1 QUALIFYING POLE POSITION.