LONDON • An emotional Lewis Hamilton outpaced Sebastian Vettel in a keenly fought record-breaking qualifying contest yesterday to claim his fifth consecutive British Grand Prix pole position.
The world champion, who trails Vettel by a point in the drivers' championship, increased his record total of career poles to 76 with a dazzling record lap under pressure in the closing seconds.
Hamilton in a Mercedes and Ferrari's Vettel traded fastest laps until Hamilton clocked 1min 25.892sec in his final lap to outpace Vettel by 0.044sec.
Kimi Raikkonen was third in the second Ferrari and the other Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas fourth, ahead of Max Verstappen and his Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
It was Mercedes' sixth consecutive pole position at Silverstone, but came after a close battle that, Hamilton said, was decided by the support of his army of fans.
"These guys are the best," said the Briton, pointing to the grandstands. "I gave it everything I could and it was so close between these Ferraris. They pulled something out for Q3!"
Vettel was contented with the outcome after overcoming neck problems in practice.
"It was very close," said the German. "I was very happy with my last lap, but I lost a lot of pace on the straight. I am happy with second and it gives us a chance tomorrow."
BRITISH GP GRID
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 2 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari
3 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari
4 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes
5 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull
6 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull
7 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas
8 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas
9 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Sauber
10 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India
13 Fernando Alonso (Esp) McLaren
In spite of his neck, Vettel, on softs, went fastest on the opening runs ahead of Hamilton and Bottas, on medium tyres.
In Q2, lap records tumbled as the leaders clocked times inside Hamilton's 1:26.600 last year, Vettel leading the way until Hamilton, on softs, took over again despite a grassy excursion at Becketts.
They were out quickly for Q3, Hamilton breaking his record only for Vettel to beat that by 0.057sec in 1:25.936.
Hamilton's response was dramatic, another record lap in 1:25.892 and a pole that gives him a perfect chance to claim a record sixth home win today.
Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda, however, is concerned by the threat Ferrari pose.
"Lewis did a special lap and it's all down to him," told Sky Sports. "My worries are where the Ferraris are. They are really close. The Ferraris are really quick in the straight and really quick through the corners."
F1 BRITISH GP
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