LONDON • Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for the British Grand Prix, putting in an almost untouchable performance in his Mercedes yesterday that his championship rival, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, could not match.
Hamilton was half a second quicker than Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and his time of 1min 26.600sec was so outrageously quick that there were gasps before the crowd erupted.
Vettel caught traffic on his final hot run and was beaten into second place by his team-mate Raikkonen.
Hamilton had to face an investigation for potentially blocking Romain Grosjean in the Haas during his first quick run in Q3 but the Mercedes driver was cleared.
This is his sixth pole of the season and the 67th of his career, one short of Michael Schumacher's total of 68, the most any driver has achieved.
The Briton now has five poles at Silverstone, matching Jim Clark's tally, including at the last two races here, both of which he converted into victories following one from sixth place in 2014.
Hamilton has won at Silverstone four times in all and, should he triumph today, he would join Clark and Alain Prost with the most victories at the British Grand Prix.
Poles Lewis Hamilton has earned at Silverstone, joint top with Jim Clark.
BRITISH GP GRID
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes
2 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari
3 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrar
4 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull
5 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault
6 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India
7 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India
8 Stoffel Vandoorne (Bel) McLaren
9 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes
10 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas
14 Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams
19 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull
20 Fernando Alonso (Esp) McLaren
He would also equal Clark's achievement of winning four British GPs in a row.
He took a grid penalty at the last race in Austria and started from eighth but, in front of the home crowd, he is in the best place to convert it into the win he needs.
Hamilton (151) currently trails Vettel by 20 points in the world championship and is only 15 ahead of his team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
"The support from the fans really means a lot to me," said Hamilton.
"That energy inspires me to do laps like that. The track feels incredible and the engineers worked really hard to get the set-up where we needed it. I grew up in these wet and chilly conditions, so I felt at home. The final lap felt fantastic, I didn't expect to have a gap like that but that was the target."
After examining the incident with Grosjean, the stewards opted to take no further action against Hamilton.
A statement from the FIA, F1's governing body, read: "The stewards examined video and telemetry evidence and concluded that, while Grosjean may potentially have been affected by the presence of Hamilton at turn 16, he was not impeded."
Hamilton had said: "I was starting my lap and I was trying to get the space. As I was about to get on the gas, I looked in the mirrors and there was a car coming. If I was in the way, I apologise. I had no indication from the team but I don't think he was that close when I had pulled away."
Mercedes continue to show they have the edge over Ferrari over a single lap, the team have secured the top spot in eight of the 10 meetings this season.
Bottas finished fourth but will take a five-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox, which had taken damage in the same way that affected Hamilton's before the last round in Austria and resulted in the British driver taking the same penalty.
Vettel said of Mercedes: "There is always opportunities in the race but they have been quick all weekend. On the last run I was a bit compromised in the first sector, they should have seen that on the out lap I was a bit in traffic, it was not ideal but it is a decent result."
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PTRESSE
BRITISH GRAND PRIX
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