Formula One: Hamilton eyes record win

Feuding Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton (left) and Nico Rosberg after yesterday's dramatic qualifying session at Silverstone. Hamilton, who first won the British Grand Prix in 2008, also won his home race in 2014 and again last year.
Feuding Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton (left) and Nico Rosberg after yesterday's dramatic qualifying session at Silverstone. Hamilton, who first won the British Grand Prix in 2008, also won his home race in 2014 and again last year.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

Pole-sitter could equal Jim Clark's feat of three consecutive victories in his home Grand Prix

LONDON • Lewis Hamilton held his nerve to grab pole position ahead of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg for today's British Grand Prix with a spectacular lap in the final seconds of an intense qualifying session.

The defending three-time world champion, who had his first flying run in Q3 deleted because he ran off the track, outpaced championship leader Rosberg with a lap in one minute and 29.287 seconds.

This lifted him clear of the German by three-tenths of a second and ensured they will start together on the front row again, a week after their last-lap crash in Austria, where Hamilton seized a controversial victory.

It was in-form Hamilton's fourth pole at the British Grand Prix, his sixth this season and the 55th of his career.

"I had touched the kerb and the car bottomed and that pulled me wide," Hamilton, who is closing in on the 11-point gap to Rosberg at the top of the championship, explained of his disqualified lap.

  • BRITISH GRAND PRIX GRID

  • 1ST ROW

    1. Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes

    2. Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes

    2ND ROW

    3. Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull

    4. Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull

    3RD ROW

    5. Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari

    6. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari

    4TH ROW

    7. Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Williams

    8. Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Force India

    5TH ROW

    9. Carlos Sainz Jr (Esp) Toro Rosso

    10. Fernando Alonso (Esp) McLaren

    SELECTED

    17. Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren

    REUTERS

"So there was a lot of pressure on that last lap and I just knew I couldn't let the guys - or the fans - down."

Rosberg was called to see the stewards and could be hit with a grid penalty for taking an unduly slow lap during qualifying.

He is alleged to have breached the sporting regulations for lapping in a leisurely two minutes and 26.444 seconds during the first qualifying session.

The German could face a grid penalty, a reprimand or a fine.

Dutch teenager Max Verstappen was third fastest ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo of Australia, Finn Kimi Raikkonen and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, both of Ferrari, with Finn Valtteri Bottas of Williams seventh.

Vettel, however, will start 11th after taking a five-place penalty for a gearbox change.

Hamilton could today equal Jim Clark's record as only the second British driver to register a hat-trick of consecutive British Grand Prix victories.

After a week of accusation and recrimination - and the threat of draconian punishment - the main business, though, is erasing that 11-point lead in the title standings held by Rosberg.

Bookmakers are offering odds of 5-1 that one of them will be suspended after a crash today.

The threat from Toto Wolff, the head of Mercedes Motorsport, to drag the next driver to cause a collision out of the car as punishment was not an idle one.

But Hamilton is arguably the best overtaker in the business and if he has to do it again here at Silverstone, he will.

"I will be giving it everything I have got but that's how I race anyway," he said. "If you look at the overtaking manoeuvres since I was eight years old, I guess 99 per cent have been clean, which in 23 years is pretty decent.

"As Ayrton (Senna) said, 'If you are no longer going for a gap, you are no longer a racing driver.' I live by that."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 10, 2016, with the headline 'Hamilton eyes record win'. Print Edition | Subscribe