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British Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton quickest in Silverstone qualifying

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Silverstone crowdThe crowds are back for the British Grand Prix – which is live on Sunday on BBC Radio 5 Live, with digital coverage on the BBC Sport website

Lewis Hamilton thrilled a crowd of 86,000 at Silverstone to take pole position for Saturday's new sprint race at the British Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver beat title rival Max Verstappen's Red Bull by 0.075 seconds to secure top spot for the new 17-lap race introduced this weekend.

Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas was third ahead of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

McLaren's Lando Norris was sixth and there was an outstanding display by Williams' George Russell in eighth.

"It has been such a difficult time for everyone and we finally have all the fans at the British Grand Prix and the desire to deliver for everyone is beyond belief," said Hamilton.

"We watched the England game the other day, you see how much passion there is in England. It was a difficult time for everyone and I was hoping I could do my part in bringing something positive. It is only the first step but, wow, what a fantastic way to end the day."

How British GP qualifying unfoldedQualifying times (external site)external-linkVerstappen on refusing to dream, dealing with pressure & learning from his dadWinning title a 'tall order' – Hamilton

Vintage Hamilton at Silverstone

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Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri BottasMercedes looked off the pace of Red Bull earlier on Friday but delivered when it mattered in Friday qualifying

Hamilton set the time that mattered on his first lap in final qualifying. He was on course for a quicker time on his final run but made a mistake, sliding wide at the penultimate corner, Vale, and losing time.

But while Verstappen did improve on his final lap, it was not enough to supplant Hamilton and the seven-time world champion sent the crowd into raptures.

Already this is the biggest crowd at a sporting event in the UK since the start of the pandemic – and there are more to come over the weekend, with 140,000 due to attend the Grand Prix on Sunday in predicted temperatures of close to 30C.

It was a vintage performance from Hamilton, helped by the Mercedes team's first upgrades since the Spanish Grand Prix in May, but it is not another pole position to add to his tally of 100 – officially the driver who wins Saturday's 'sprint' will be classified as the pole position winner.

And it was an important change in form after four wins in five races by Verstappen, who has opened a 32-point championship lead.

The crowd chanted Hamilton's name as he did his post-session interview and he basked in their adulation.

Hamilton said: "We have been missing this for a whole years, I have lost my voice a little. I am so grateful to see everyone here. To come to Silverstone and have a full crowd like this. You feel the energy. I was hopeful with the great work we did at the team and the energy of the fans would get us here. This is down to the fans.

"The first lap was great and the second was looking even better but I just lost the back end in the last corner and my heart was in my mouth as I crossed the line."

Verstappen said: "The car was handling quite well but just a lot of understeer so I couldn't really attack any corners, just waiting for the front to grip up. A weird feeling to drive, I don't think it was set-up or front wing related, we are still quite close so it's all right."

And the 23-year-old said the new format being trialled this weekend – and planned for a further two races at some point this season – was "a bit of a weird feeling".

"You do qualifying, you go flat out and it doesn't really mean anything in terms of pole feeling," Verstappen said.

"We have a strong race car but we need to fix the issues in qualifying. I am quite confident we can have a strong race."

There are three world championship points on offer for the winner of Saturday's sprint, two for second and one for third, and Hamilton has said he "needs" to win both that event and the Grand Prix to reduce his deficit to Verstappen in the championship.

Hamilton has the benefit of his team-mate also up in the top three with him, while Verstappen's partner Sergio Perez could manage only fifth in his Red Bull, beaten by the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, in another stellar qualifying performance by the Monegasque.

Sprint qualifying: F1's break with historyBritish Grand Prix radio & online coverage details

What a day for the home fans

Lewis HamiltonThe Silverstone crowd rose to acclaim Hamilton after he topped the qualifying hour

It was a day for the always dedicated Silverstone crowd to celebrate both the present and future of British motorsport at the highest level, with all three home drivers in the top 10.

Norris edged McLaren team-mate Daniel Ricciardo into sixth place, in a welcome return to form for the popular Australian, but the star of the session was Russell.

The grandstands cheered him mightily as he made it into the top-10 shootout, knocking out two-time world champion Fernando Alonso's Alpine in the process.

And he did it again in the final session, beating the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel's Aston Martin to take eighth.

The crowd cheered as Russell started his lap, cheered him around it, and cheered as he crossed the line to set his time, as a new superstar had clearly been taken to the fans' hearts.

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And his performance sent a resounding message to Mercedes, who say they have still not yet decided whether to pick Russell or Bottas as partner for Hamilton next season.

Russell said: "Incredible. Damon Hill [1996 world champion] told me the crowd's worth a second. I thought he was lying but maybe he was right.

"Incredible support and amazing feeling, second Q3 with Williams on the bounce. We are on this roll at the moment and seeing everyone, everything together. It is just great. Buzzing, to be honest."

The performance gives Russell another chance to score his first points for Williams, after he was deprived of 10th place by a late pass by Alonso in Austria two weeks ago.

"It is only Friday," Russell said. "We have a long way to go, but to get into Q3 in front of my home crowd is amazing. We have real chance this weekend and we're going for it."

Fans hang a Lewis Hamilton flagThere was plenty of support for seven-time British Grand Prix winner HamiltonFans at SilverstoneFans were enjoying the good weather at Silverstone for Friday's qualifying sessionNew Around the BBC - GenericWho will find the best takeaway in town?: Game of Thrones' Hodor goes against Radio 1's Gemma Bradley'They're not fans, they're racists': Football, Racism and Social Media streaming now on BBC iPlayercommentsView Comments352

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Comment posted by Andy , today at 19:17Andy

19:17The crowd for George Russell, amazing!!!!826F

Reply posted by Funky, today at 19:44Funky

19:44to Andy "The crowd for George Russell, amazing!!!!"Funky replied: A crowd for all of them amazing too184More replies (2)downR

Comment posted by rufc_dean, today at 19:14rufc_dean

19:14Great lap from George Russell!. Should be exciting tomorrow with Lewis and Max side by side. Think Mercedes needed that result though as felt like Red Bull were running away with it.642T

Reply posted by The Spin Doctor, today at 20:42The Spin Doctor

20:42to rufc_dean"Great lap from George Russell!. Should be exciting tomorrow with Lewis and Max side by side. Think Mercedes needed that result though as felt like Red Bull were running away with it."The Spin Doctor replied: Looking forward to a great GP weekend.21D

Comment posted by Dagon, today at 19:15Dagon

19:15What about George, amazing and you will never get better fans than Silverstone. Amazing support.648L

Reply posted by Lets Agree To Disagree, today at 20:46Lets Agree To Disagree

20:46to Dagon"What about George, amazing and you will never get better fans than Silverstone. Amazing support."Lets Agree To Disagree replied: There are great racing fans everywhere. No need to be bias.45More replies (1)downO

Comment posted by Old Dog, today at 19:16Old Dog

19:16Great to see Russell at 8th. Real progress by Williams; just need to translate it into results on race day.544L

Reply posted by LoveSport, today at 20:00LoveSport

20:00to Old Dog"Great to see Russell at 8th. Real progress by Williams; just need to translate it into results on race day."LoveSport replied: Fingers crossed he doesn’t convert it into points this weekend.

And I really do hope Lewis Hamilton and his team can hold this pace for the rest of the season. If they do, I am hopeful he will win the championship.1214More replies (2)downT

Comment posted by TheEyebrowOfRodgerMoore, today at 19:20TheEyebrowOfRodgerMoore

19:20Staggering lap by Russell.4909

Reply posted by 9ja_scorpion, today at 20:099ja_scorpion

20:09to TheEyebrowOfRodgerMoore"Staggering lap by Russell."9ja_scorpion replied: It is!

But perhaps, the Williams is ‘not as bad’ an F1 car as some make out…

The Williams car has considerably improved over the past few seasons.

Who knows, perhaps just any other driver bar Lafiti will be able to get that Williams car into Q3 regularly….

Nobody knows!

Congrats to Russell still and to all involved for making this new Friday session exciting!!59G

Comment posted by guysie, today at 19:31guysie

19:31Well done Lewis, but wow what a lap from George russell brilliant without a doubt a future world champion462O

Reply posted by OmNom, today at 19:37OmNom

19:37to guysie"Well done Lewis, but wow what a lap from George russell brilliant without a doubt a future world champion"OmNom replied: I’d apply caution here. There have been so many “future world champions” throughout the years. Lando, Leclerc, Max and Russell are the obvious stand-outs in the current field, but there are “future world champs” who will graduate from F2 this year, as well.

Problem is, it’s not just about driving talent – it’s about grabbing opportunities and knowing the right time to leave a team.241More replies (1)downP

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Comment posted by planeteel, today at 19:15planeteel

19:15Maybe I’m biased but there’s something about British crowds that just can’t be matched. Amazing scenes. And well done Lewis!5518T

Reply posted by thenestofvipers, today at 19:28thenestofvipers

19:28to planeteel"Maybe I’m biased but there’s something about British crowds that just can’t be matched. Amazing scenes. And well done Lewis!"thenestofvipers replied: I should imagine the verstappen fans were saying exactly the same a couple of weeks ago about themselves.253More replies (5)downO

Comment posted by oobiedoobie, today at 19:13oobiedoobie

19:13OK, shame on me for doubting and thinking Mercedes have swapped focus to next year.
Congrats Lewis and Max for making an outstanding first ever Friday qualifying.395R

Reply posted by Rubeninho, today at 20:02Rubeninho

20:02to oobiedoobie"OK, shame on me for doubting and thinking Mercedes have swapped focus to next year. Congrats Lewis and Max for making an outstanding first ever Friday qualifying."Rubeninho replied: qualifying used to be on a friday as recently as the 90s60More replies (4)downJ

Comment posted by Jon, today at 19:38Jon

19:38Lots of teeth-gnashing from the anti- Lewis brigade. Grow up and start supporting a great British champion.5728T

Reply posted by Tommyshelby, today at 19:43Tommyshelby

19:43to Jon"Lots of teeth-gnashing from the anti- Lewis brigade. Grow up and start supporting a great British champion."Tommyshelby replied: No1933More replies (16)downB

Comment posted by Bosseyedness75, today at 19:27Bosseyedness75

19:27What is this BS they’re doing? What’s next, a 100m dash to the cars after arm wrestling a stoat?4112T

Reply posted by thundersnow, today at 19:36thundersnow

19:36to Bosseyedness75"What is this BS they’re doing? What’s next, a 100m dash to the cars after arm wrestling a stoat?"thundersnow replied: Sounds good. Sign Me up for the pay per view!121More replies (7)downD

Comment posted by Dreddy Tennis, today at 19:14Dreddy Tennis

19:14Mercedes upgrades doing the business! This season continues to intrigue and is easily the best since 2012.

Well done Russell as well – staggering that he can make Top 10 in the Williams. What more does he have to do to take Bottas’ seat?!324A

Reply posted by andyg, today at 19:24andyg

19:24to Dreddy Tennis"Mercedes upgrades doing the business! This season continues to intrigue and is easily the best since 2012.Well done Russell as well – staggering that he can make Top 10 in the Williams. What more does he have to do to take Bottas’ seat?!"andyg replied: I think Russell was originally supposed to take over from Lewis when he retired at the end of this season. Now that Lewis has signed a new 2 year contract Mercedes will have to give him Bottas’ seat or he will go elsewhere. I don’t think Mercedes will want 1 of the most talented but underrated drivers on the grid racing against them.170More replies (8)downV

Comment posted by vin, today at 19:31vin

19:31So fastest car comes second……slower car on pole…..driver makes the difference…3715N

Reply posted by Nico Rosberg, today at 19:35Nico Rosberg

19:35to vin"So fastest car comes second……slower car on pole…..driver makes the difference…"Nico Rosberg replied: which is why verstappen is 7 tenths quicker than perez. so yes driver does make a difference205More replies (5)downM

Comment posted by MrBounce, today at 19:31MrBounce

19:31Nice one George Russell. I think he’s already been signed by Mercedes…193B

Reply posted by BenRinnes, today at 19:41BenRinnes

19:41to MrBounce"Nice one George Russell. I think he’s already been signed by Mercedes…"BenRinnes replied: Personally i’d swap Bottas and him around.81More replies (2)downS

Comment posted by S_1iM, today at 19:20S_1iM

19:20Get in Lewis!… and George Russell, wow.. nicely done!2410T

Comment posted by twita, today at 19:30twita

19:30Payback time – well done Sir Lewis.
Hopefully that will shut Horner up!3320S

Reply posted by SLOPPY, today at 19:34SLOPPY

19:34to twita"Payback time – well done Sir Lewis.Hopefully that will shut Horner up!"SLOPPY replied: My view entirely.169More replies (5)downN

Comment posted by Neil Leeds, today at 19:39Neil Leeds

19:39That has probably kept Bottas his seat, but Hamilton had to deliver the lap and he did. Awesome job from the Silver Arrows because tomorrow the sprint race will be a precession as the drivers will not risk a spin for the race.131S

Reply posted by Sunny, today at 20:00Sunny

20:00to Neil Leeds"That has probably kept Bottas his seat, but Hamilton had to deliver the lap and he did. Awesome job from the Silver Arrows because tomorrow the sprint race will be a precession as the drivers will not risk a spin for the race."Sunny replied: Just hope the Mercs get their starts right74K

Comment posted by Kac83, today at 19:20Kac83

19:20I wonder what that time would have been had he not nearly dropped it going into the final corners. That was electric pace.

I hope Merc take notice, that aero development is the way to go, at least this year, rather than engine upgrade, good job by the team.

Oh and an honourable mention to Valteri, ever the loyal soldier, I hope his time comes one day, he’d deserve it165R

Reply posted by Realist_fan, today at 20:07Realist_fan

20:07to Kac83"I wonder what that time would have been had he not nearly dropped it going into the final corners. That was electric pace.I hope Merc take notice, that aero development is the way to go, at least this year, rather than engine upgrade, good job by the team.Oh and an honourable mention to Valteri, ever the loyal soldier, I hope his time comes one day, he’d deserve it"Realist_fan replied: Looked to be a mega lap time coming if the tyres hadn’t let go with him pushing a bit too hard there at the end. I think today was more about the track conditions being right to allow Mercedes to switch the tyres on for a change, rather than their upgrades bringing a significant amount of lap time. Who knows how Mercedes will perform from one weekend to the next11O

Comment posted by OmNom, today at 19:14OmNom

19:14Hamilton was on course for one of the all-time great Silverstone laps before drifting at the end. Lost 0.350 according to the commentators.

Still, an outstanding qualifying performance from the 🐐.2718S

Reply posted by Sunny, today at 19:58Sunny

19:58to OmNom"Hamilton was on course for one of the all-time great Silverstone laps before drifting at the end. Lost 0.350 according to the commentators.Still, an outstanding qualifying performance from the 🐐."Sunny replied: I agree and I hope he starts to remove such mistakes, it would have been great to see that lap finish…+ three tenths23More replies (3)downX

Comment posted by xenosys2005, today at 19:15xenosys2005

19:15Top notch from Hamilton. Should have improved upon his time by a couple of tenths but grip slipped off at the end.

Feels strange knowing there’s still another race before THE race, but it’s good to know Mercedes have the pace to go toe to toe with Red Bull this weekend, and we may see a proper fight for the win.1911J

Reply posted by Jack Dominiak, today at 20:07Jack Dominiak

20:07to xenosys2005"Top notch from Hamilton. Should have improved upon his time by a couple of tenths but grip slipped off at the end. Feels strange knowing there’s still another race before THE race, but it’s good to know Mercedes have the pace to go toe to toe with Red Bull this weekend, and we may see a proper fight for the win."Jack Dominiak replied: He messed up the last run, how can you call that top notch? He simply messed up a little less than Max!…it’s not even the pole yet 😂 Still it’s brought back a bit of excitement, however I have a feeling Max has Hamiltons number in both races!35I

Comment posted by iDominic, today at 20:28iDominic

20:28First of all

Max is a fantastic, fast driver, and has matured a lot over the last couple of years

Lewis is also a fantastic driver, which he proved back at McLaren in 2007 faced with Alonso as his team mate

and then won in 2008

Some people do not like the fact that Hamilton got there by Merit

and this is blatantly obvious on posts on these BBC HYS comments

Be absolutely fair81More commentsBack to topunknown
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