Home crowd favourite Lewis Hamilton claimed his fifth British Grand Prix pole position at Silverstone for Mercedes.
The British Grand Prix hero took the top spot early in the 12-minute Q3 session that decides the top ten on the grid with a lap of one minute, 27.231 seconds using the super-soft Pirellis that proved the tyre of choice for all.
That put Hamilton two tenths of a second ahead of world championship rival Sebastian Vettel, and on his second run he delivered a mighty lap of one minute, 26.600 seconds to provisionally seal his 67th pole position in F1 – now just one behind Michael Schumacher’s Formula 1 record.
Initially Hamilton was been investigated for a potential impeding incident at the end of his first run in Q3 when Haas driver Romain Grosjean complained of being held up by him at Club corner.
In the end, the race stewards came to the conclusion that while Hamilton had got in Grosjean’s way, he had not cost the Haas driver anything. So the qualifying results and pole position stands. Much to the relief of the racing fans.
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen jumped from fourth to second on his final lap, ending up 0.547 seconds slower than Hamilton.
Vettel struggled on the first two sectors of his final lap, meaning he ended up third and two-tenths off his team-mate.
Valtteri Bottas was fourth fastest, with a lock-up at Turn 3 among the places he lost time on his second run, but has to serve a five-place penalty for a gearbox change.
Max Verstappen was fifth quickest, with Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg sixth to earn his best starting position of the 2017 season for the Enstone-based team.
The Force India duo of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon were seventh and eighth, with Stoffel Vandoorne ninth on his first appearance in Q3.
Grosjean was tenth and slowest in Q3 after first losing three tenths behind Hamilton on his first run, then only making a small improvement on his second.
Renault’s Jolyon Palmer missed out on making Q3 by less than a tenth of a second, setting P11 ahead of Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat.
Fernando Alonso proved unable to join McLaren team-mate Vandoorne in Q3, with his final flier half-a-second off and only good enough for P13.
Alonso will start at the back thanks to a 30-place grid penalty for new power unit components being introduced.
Despite this set back, Alonso did set the quickest time in Q1 thanks to smart thinking from McLaren to use the slicks as the track conditions improved.
Carlos Sainz was P14 ahead of the Williams of Felipe Massa.
Williams driver Lance Stroll was fastest of those to be eliminated in Q1 thanks to a last-gasp effort by Alonso to jump from last to first.
It started to rain 12 minutes before the session, leading to a flurry of drivers going out at the start of Q1 using a mix of intermediate and slick rubber before it emerged it was too damp for the latter.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who was fastest early on using intermediates, then stopped at Luffield reporting a loss of power, leading to the session being red flagged for five minutes.
The session got going again with ten minutes remaining, with Alonso running on intermediates but opting to pit with just enough time to bolt on super-softs and complete his out-lap before the chequered flag.
He managed to do that, crossing the line moment before the flag, leading to him taking top spot by 1.3 seconds and relegating Stroll into the dropzone. Alonso was one of only two drivers, alongside Ocon, to use slicks in Q1.
Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was P17 ahead of Sauber duo Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson.
Ricciardo was quickly shuffled down the timing screens, ending up P20, but is current due to start one place higher despite his five-place grid penalty for changing a gearbox because of Alonso’s drop.
So a fantastic result for Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton. A popular pole position for the Silverstone crowd favourite. Championship leader Sebastian Vettel is third on the grid but the title fight is still on. Bring on the race.
Qualifying standings, Silverstone:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m26.600s
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m27.147s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m27.356s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1m28.130s
5 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m28.856s
6 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m28.902s
7 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1m29.074s
8 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Honda 1m29.418s
9 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m29.549s
10 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m27.376s
11 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m30.193s
12 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1m30.355s
13 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso-Renault 1m31.368s
14 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m31.482s
15 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1m42.573s
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m42.577s
17 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber-Ferrari 1m42.593s
18 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m42.633s
19 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m42.966s
20 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 1m30.600s