Max Verstappen will start the team’s second home grand prix in seven days from fourth place on the grid but Daniel Ricciardo will have to slug it out from the back of the Silverstone grid after a suspected turbo failure in Q1 left him in 20th place at the end of qualifying.
In the quarter of an hour before the start of qualifying, light drizzle began to fall across Silverstone and with track greasy and damp, inters were required across the board as Q1 got underway, and in light of a strong risk of conditions worsening there was a flurry of activity early on as drivers went of 'banker' laps.
Daniel set the first time of the session, a lap of 1:42.966, with Renault's Nico Hulkenberg slotting into P2 ahead of Max.
Daniel's time as Q1 pacesetter was shortlived, however. Seven minutes into the session he slowed dramatically and though he attempted to limp back to the ptilane he was forced to pull over at the edge of the track at Luffield, reporting that his car was suffering a turbo issue. With Daniel's RB13 stranded just off track the red flags were shown and all cars returned to the pit lane while the Australian's stricken car was removed.
When the action resumed it became clear that the track was drying rapidly and as drivers found more grip the time dropped dramatically. Max appeared to profit most from the improving condition and late in the session he posted a time of 1:38.912 to vault to P1.
- 20th is not Daniel's lowest Silverstone starting spot. That came on his F1 debut in 2010 with HRT when he started from P24.
- Tomorrow will be the eighth time Max will start from P4.
- There is precedent for a Daniel recovery from P20. In 2014 he started the Abu Dhabi GP from P20 and finished in P4!
There was more drama to come, though, as at McLaren, Fernando Alonso was gambling on a set of slick supersoft tyres. Right up against the clock, there was a suspicion that he might not cross the line to begin a flying lap before the chequered flag was shown, but he made it by the tiniest margin. Then, on the drying track, the McLaren driver vaulted from P20 to P1 with a time of 1:37.598 set on supersoft tyres.
Daniel, meanwhile, was sliding down the order and as the session ended he sat at the foot of the timesheet, in P20. Also eliminated at this stage were Williams' Lance Stroll in P16, followed by Haas' Kevin Magnussen, and the Saubers of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson.
With conditions getting better by the minute and slick tyres now the order of the day the early part of Q2 saw more time gained. Max was quickly in P1 with a time of 1:33.917 but over the following minutes the P1 time dropped massively, to the extent that as the session entered its final minutes Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton held sway with a time of 1:29.097.
In the closing moments Hamilton then powered away from the pack, setting an untouchable time of 1:27.893, eight tenths ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas. Vettel was third ahead of team-mate Raikkonen, while Hulkenberg took fifth in front of Max, who eased into the top 10 shootout with a time of 1:29.431.
This time there was no escaping the drop zone for Alonso. While his McLaren team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne scraped through to Q3 in P10, edging P11 man Jolyon Palmer of Renault by eight hundredths of a second, Alonso was eliminated in P13 behind Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat. The Russian's team-mate Carlos Sainz was also ruled out in P14, while Williams Felipe Massa qualified in 15th place.
In Q3 what Max later described as a "lonely" session was perfectly illustrated. After the first runs, the Dutchman sat in fifth place with a lap of 1:28.301 that put him over six tenths clear of sixth-placed Hulkenberg, but six tenths behind the fourth-placed Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.
And in the final runs Max stretched his advantage over Hulkenberg to 0.726 as the Red Bull man improved. However, the gap to fourth place, now occupied by Bottas had also risen to over seven tenths of a second.
At the front Hamilton claimed his fifth career British Grand Prix pole ahead of Raikkonen with Vettel third ahead of Bottas.
Bottas, though, is set to take a five-place grid penalty for tomorrow's race due to an unscheduled gearbox change and thus Max will line up on row two of the grid. Behind him Hulkenberg will start sixth ahead of the Force Indias of Perez and Esteban Ocon, McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne, Bottas and Haas' Romain Grosjean.