Lewis Hamilton delighted the British crowd today taking pole position at Silverstone in what was a curious close to qualifying. A session headlined by the stewards new-found values regarding track limits at Copse and strong winds, Hamilton managed to keep composed, despite his second attempt in Q3 being scrapped after the second sector. Ultimately, this was just one instance building to an anti-climatic end to the qualifying hour, as the winds picked up in the final moments to prevent all but Felipe Massa from improving.
Just when it appeared that the Brit was again feeling the effects on Rosberg’s mid-season surge in form, he found another gear. Yesterday, Hamilton struggled to find a balance and was clearly uncomfortable. Rosberg had handfuls of understeer, but could cope better than his teammate in FP1 and FP2. From the outside looking in, both have appeared to have made an improvement today, coupled with the improvement that the team always make courtesy of a higher engine setting, but Hamilton’s gains have outweighed Rosberg’s.
However, it would be unfair to lament another ‘second-best’ performance from the man sitting second in the championship. Sure, Lewis has taken his eighth pole position of the season today, but he only narrowly edged out his chief rival by a tenth. Given that Rosberg demonstrated a clear advantage over Hamilton in Friday’s long runs, the Briton’s task to claim a second consecutive victory on home soil is far from complete.
As has been critical in the Mercedes duels so far in 2015, the start will be important tomorrow. Hamilton does enter the race with a new clutch setting, with the aim of correcting the defects which he believes proved decisive in Austria, where he lost the lead to Nico before the first turn. So far, he has reported that the clutch matches the feeling he had with the setting that propelled him to four wins in the first three races.
Home advantage may be considered a myth, or at least a placebo, but Williams are certainly enjoying being on home turf. The team targeted Silverstone as a location at which to capitalise on the FW37’s traits for grip in high speed corners and it’s pre-eminent Mercedes powertrain. More positive for Williams today was the way in which the car dealt with the high wind speed – something with which the team struggled last season.
Third for Felipe Massa and fourth for Valtteri Bottas gives Williams their best chance of the season so far to steal a march on Ferrari. The past two races have seen them close the gap to the Scuderia, but ultimately, this was a product of opportunism. This weekend, Williams are simply faster and on the basis of today’s running, would be good value for a podium appearance.
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 0.113
3 Felipe Massa Williams 0.837
4 Valtteri Bottas Williams 0.901
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1.131
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1.299
7 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1.388
8 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1.401
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1.425
10 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1.695
11 Sergio Perez Force India
12 Romain Grosjean Lotus
13 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso
14 Pastor Maldonado Lotus
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber
16 Felipe Nasr Sauber
17 Fernando Alonso McLaren
18 Jenson Button McLaren
19 Will Stevens Manor
20 Roberto Merhi Manor