Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Silverstone Qualifying Notes: Hamilton on pole, Albon struggles again

Lewis Hamilton claimed his seventh pole at his home circuit this afternoon, in another dominant qualifying session from Mercedes in this odd 2020 Formula One World Championship. The six-time world champion has now extended his record to 91 pole positions, whilst smashing the Silverstone track record.

Going into the previous race, Mercedes had been in a class of their own in this delayed 2020 season, having an advantage of 41 points in the constructors’ championship. That was over double the tally of the 2nd placed team, McLaren.

Their figure now sits at 121 points, 66 points clear of the now second placed team Red Bull. Utter dominance from the Silver Arrows. That theme continued into this race weekend, the first of two at the legendary Silverstone Circuit.

Heading into the qualifying session we expected to yet again have a Mercedes front-row lockout, with a free for all behind them to make an interesting Qualifying 3. Valterri Bottas lead the timesheet in the final practice session this morning, with Lewis slightly behind him.

Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes

Red Bull’s Alex Albon made a mistake at Copse in FP2 on Friday Afternoon, which must have dented his confidence heading into this morning. It got worse throughout the day however, much worse.

Alex would have wanted to get out on track straight away, looking to get a few more laps in and regain confidence on a very difficult circuit. Unfortunately for Alex, that didn’t happen. He was out of action for pretty much the entirety of FP3 due to a problem with the ERS system in the Honda Power Unit.

There were more issues across the grid pre-qualifying, headlined by Sergio Perez’s positive coronavirus case. Racing Point drafted in Nico Hulkenburg on Thursday afternoon, flying the Monaco based German to Oxfordshire for a seat fitting until the early hours of the morning.

Hulkenburg was straight in the simulator at 8 Yesterday Morning, waiting for a negative test in order to enter the Formula 1 Paddock and Racing Point bubble. It was a rush, but everything was in place for Hulk to take part in FP1.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel had been struggling with a brake pedal issue all weekend, whilst Daniel Ricciardo of Renault had a new Chassis heading into this morning.

HOW IT HAPPENED – QUALIFYING – HUNGARORING

QUALIFYING 1

Let’s start at the back of the grid and Q1. Just like last week, both Haas and Alfa Romeo cars were eliminated and not surprisingly, didn’t show many signs of being close to those above the knockout zone.

The other unlucky driver in Qualifying 1 was Williams’ Nicholas Latifi who’s spin at Luffield in his second run planted him at the back of the grid. His car could have reached Q2 for the second week in a row. His teammate George Russell made it 3 Q2 appearances in a row but sadly will start alongside his teammate on the back row due to a grid penalty for ignoring yellow flags after Latifi’s spin.

Haas weren’t expecting to get into Q2 anyway, and both Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi were struggling for grip all weekend in the Alfa’s. Valtteri Bottas also went fastest in Qualifying 1, with Lewis Hamilton just a touch behind him in 2nd.


In his first run, Alex Albon was a touch wide at Copse, which cost him lap time. Max Verstappen placed 3rd, with Alex in 10th. Nico Hulkenburg remarkably almost matched Lance Stroll for pace. Coming in 4th and 5th respectively.

The Ferrari’s finished Q1 with Seb in 8th and Charles Leclerc in 9th. Whilst both McLaren’s of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz posted exactly the same time in their first Q1 run. They ended up in 15th in Lando’s case, just scraping through, whilst it was 12th place for Carlos.

The Renault package looks fast in Sector 1 but seems to lose time throughout the rest of the lap, placing 7th and 11th. Daniel Ricciardo has posted purple sector 1’s a couple of times this weekend.

Finally, both Alpha Tauri drivers changed their Gearbox this weekend, Danil Kvyat has taken a 5 place grid penalty ahead of Tomorrow, whilst Pierre Gasly doesn’t have one because of his DNF in Hungary. Both went through to Q2, although a little more difficult for the Russian.

QUALIFYING 2

Q2 is where the session always starts to get interesting, as you can see what strategy each team intends to run for their respective drivers. Both Mercedes, Red Bull, and Racing Point drivers went out on medium tires, which last longer than the soft, which don’t look like a good race tire.

Valterri Bottas set a lap record on the mediums in the first run, which shows just how good that Mercedes car is. That lap was 1 second ahead of the next best non-Mercedes car, Max Verstappen’s Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton had a spin at Luffield, very similar to Latifi’s in Qualifying 1. That sBinalla brought out a Red Flag for gravel on the track.

The Racing Point team were yet again taking a risk with the mediums, one that looked risky after the first run. In the end, Stroll scraped through in 10th place, whilst Hulkenburg just missed out on Q3 in 13th.

Going back to Red Bull, Alex Albon in his first run was 10th but was first to set a lap. He did however suffer back to back Q2 eliminations, coming in 12th. 0.4 seconds separated him from Verstappen, showing the tiny gap behind Mercedes. Extremely unlucky for Alex, who yet again wasn’t put out at the right time.

The Ferrari’s originally split strategies, with Charles on mediums and Seb on the soft tire, both setting decent lap times in 3rd and 7th. With both safely through, Vettel went out on the harder medium compound and set a faster lap, so both start on that tire.

McLaren and Renault weren’t quick enough to go out on the mediums, so all four drivers went out on the soft tire. All of them made it to Qualifying 3. That meant that both Alpha Tauri drivers and George Russell joined Albon and Hulkenburg in being eliminated. Pierre Gasly actually set the same time as Stroll but missed out due to crossing the line later than the Canadian.

QUALIFYING 3

Now, Q3, the business end of qualifying, at one of the tracks where quali position means more than at others. As expected, a battle between the two Merc’s was on the cards.

Lewis Hamilton was the clear favourite, having taken pole at Silverstone 5 of the past 6 years. Past the Mercedes and perhaps Max Verstappen, I’d say it was looking pretty unpredictable for how the grid would shape up.

And, as mentioned in the introduction it was another vintage Qualifying 3 performance from Lewis, ensuring his 91st pole position. In the first run, the six-time world champion broke Valtteri’s track record from the previous session with a 1:24.616.

That wasn’t it, Lewis went another three-tenths of a second faster on his final run. The time was a 1:24:303, which Valterri Bottas was 0.313s off.

Max Verstappen is in a chasing pack of his own, which has got Adrian Newey looking worried. What happened to the Red Bull favoured calendar, eh? Max was still 1 second off of Lewis in 3rd place.

The Ferrari’s had looked better than expected throughout the day, and that theme occurred again in Q3. They were 5th and 6th in the first run. But it didn’t stop there, Charles improved to 4th with a stunner of a lap in a slow Ferrari. Seb, however, was 10th, 0.9 of Charles after having one of his lap times deleted due to exceeding track limits.

As for Racing Point, Lance Stroll placed 4th in the first run, after going wide at club corner. His second lap wasn’t as good, and placed lower than expected, in 6th.

Finally, McLaren and Renault. Lando had a very impressive first lap, placing 7th on used soft tires. The Glastonbury boy seems the stronger McLaren driver over one lap and proved that by not only out qualifying Carlos Sainz but also Lance Stroll of Racing Point.

They really are in and amongst it with the Silverstone based team (RP), Red Bull and Ferrari. A great turnaround. As for the French constructor, Daniel Ricciardo went wide at Chapel and was 2.4 seconds off Valterri on the first run. In the 2nd run, Danny Ric was 8th and Esteban Ocon 9th, as probably expected.

For more on the British GP and all things F1, visit our dedicated F1 page here. Meanwhile, follow us on Facebook for more opinions and analysis right to your timeline.

The full Qualifying Classification is available below.

PosDriverCarQ1Q2Q3
1Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:25.9001:25.3471:24.303
2Valtteri BottasMERCEDES1:25.8011:25.0151:24.616
3Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA1:26.1151:26.1441:25.325
4Charles LeclercFERRARI1:26.5501:26.2031:25.427
5Lando NorrisMCLAREN RENAULT1:26.8551:26.4201:25.782
6Lance StrollRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1:26.2431:26.5011:25.839
7Carlos SainzMCLAREN RENAULT1:26.7151:26.1491:25.965
8Daniel RicciardoRENAULT1:26.6771:26.3391:26.009
9Esteban OconRENAULT1:26.3961:26.2521:26.209
10Sebastian VettelFERRARI1:26.4691:26.4551:26.339
11Pierre GaslyALPHATAURI HONDA1:26.3431:26.501
12Alexander AlbonRED BULL RACING HONDA1:26.5651:26.545
13Nico HulkenbergRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1:26.3271:26.566
14Daniil KvyatALPHATAURI HONDA1:26.7741:26.744
15George RussellWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:26.7321:27.092
16Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI1:27.158
17Antonio GiovinazziALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:27.164
18Kimi RäikkönenALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:27.366
19Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI1:27.643
20Nicholas LatifiWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:27.705

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