Hamilton credits Silverstone crowd for qualifying result — he starts first in British GP sprint race


Lewis Hamilton starts first in this weekend's British Grand Prix sprint race, with the fastest lap in qualifying in front of a capacity Silverstone crowd

Lewis Hamilton celebrates after 2021 British Grand Prix qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton thrilled a capacity Silverstone crowd by setting the fastest time in qualifying to put him at the front of the grid in tomorrow’s British Grand Prix sprint race.

In an upgraded Mercedes, the defending champion finished 0.1sec ahead of Max Verstappen, despite a final lap snap of oversteer that cost him the chance to improve his time.

The Dutchman couldn’t overhaul Hamilton’s time and will start the sprint qualifying race second.

Hamilton benefitted from a tow by team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who finished third, and also credited the energy from fans for giving him the edge.

“We’ve been missing this for a whole year,” said Hamilton. “I’m so grateful to see everyone here. We’ve missed you for a whole year.

“I was hopeful the great work from the team plus the energy of the fans would get us there. This is down to the fans.”

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The crowd was also euphoric to see George Russell qualify eighth, behind Lando Norris who starts tomorrow’s sprint race sixth.


Hamilton began Friday with some last minute homework in the Mercedes factory simulator before heading to Silverstone for the first practice session, where he sounded bemused by his car’s lack of pace, compared with the leading Red Bull.

Verstappen could have been forgiven that he could walk the entire weekend, posting a practice time 0.7sec faster than anybody else.

When it came to the first round of qualifying, Verstappen took the theatrical approach, allowing most other drivers to post times before rolling out onto the Silverstone tarmac, where he was expected to comfortable post the quickest lap.

But it quickly became clear that the capacity crowd would be watching a much closer battle than anticipated, with Verstappen only 0.4sec faster than Hamilton after the first runs.

That was cut to 0.3sec later in the session. Further back, Yuki Tsunoda, Kimi Räikkönen, Nicholas Latifi, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin were eliminated.


Hamilton showed who now had the momentum, as he topped the times in Q2, more than 0.7sec faster than his quickest Q1 lap and 0.3sec ahead of second-placed Verstappen. Bottas was a further 0.35sec back.

The crowd cheered as Hamilton displaced the Dutchman from the top of the timing screen, but the biggest roar came moments later when George Russell secured his Q3 place with a lap that put him seventh.

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The Williams ended the session ahead of Sebastian Vettel and both McLarensLando Norris escaping Q2 by just 0.025sec over Fernando Alonso.

Both Alpines ended their qualifying session in Q2, along with Pierre Gasly, Antonio Giovinazzi and Lance Stroll.


Then came the session that really mattered, with Hamilton apparently nervous as he left the pitlane ahead of Verstappen, radioing in that he didn’t want to give the Red Bulls a tow.

There was drama from the start as Hamilton and Verstappen traded fastest sectors: Hamilton fastest in the first, Verstappen in the second and then a run to the finish line. The cheers left the result in no doubt: Hamilton ahead of Verstappen by 0.15sec — tow or not.

Verstappen complained of understeer on the radio but was still second, ahead of Bottas and Perez.

As the cars returned to the pitlane, Russell took the opportunity of an empty track to set his Q3 run. With a wave of cheers urging him around the circuit, it looked more like a lap of honour but the commitment showed it was nothing of the sort.

The stands erupted as he dipped under 1min 27sec to go seventh.

George Russell in 2021 British Grand PRix qualifying

Russell was cheered around Silverstone as he set the laptime that sees him start eighth in the sprint race

Michael Regan/Getty Images

There would be no second run for Russell, but the rest emerged for one final shootout. Hamilton set a purple fastest first sector, a purple second sector and…..a big snap of oversteer in the final stretch.

It was enough to cancel out the earlier gains and leave him on his earlier time of 1min 26.134sec, as Verstappen charged towards the line.

The championship leader gained — but it wasn’t enough to beat Hamilton, who was awarded the “Speed King” award, rather than pole position which will go to the sprint race winner

Mercedes’ relief was audible. Hamilton’s race engineer Bono has rarely sounded more emotional with his “Get in there” message to Lewis and Hamilton’s response — another “Get in there” was even more highly charged.

Bottas starts behind the title contenders, followed by Charles Leclerc after Sergio Perez had his lap time deleted. He starts fifth.

Lando Norris pipped Daniel Ricciardo to sixth, with positions four to seven all within a tenth of a second. Russell moved down to eighth after the final runs, ahead of Carlos Sainz and Sebastian Vettel.


2021 British Grand Prix qualifying results (ahead of sprint qualifying)

Position Driver Team Time (Q3)
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1min 26.134sec
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1min 26.209sec
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1min 26.328sec
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1min 26.828sec
5 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1min 26.844sec
6 Lando Norris McLaren 1min 26.897sec
7 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1min 26.899sec
8 George Russell Williams 1min 26.971sec
9 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1min 27.007sec
10 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1min 27.179sec
Q2 times
11 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1min 27.245sec
12 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1min 27.273sec
13 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1min 27.340sec
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1min 27.617sec
15 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1min 27.665sec
Q1 times
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1min 28.043sec
17 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo 1min 28.062sec
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1min 28.254sec
19 Mick Schumacher Haas 1min 28.738sec
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas 1min 29.051sec