independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Motorsport: Hamilton storms into pole

Lewis Hamilton had the Union Jacks flying around Silverstone as he grabbed pole position for today's British Grand Prix. Hamilton produced a storming performance, going quickest in all three sectors and finishing a stunning four tenths of a second faster than Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Following a wet, grey practice day on Friday, the Englishman emerged from his car bemoaning its lack of balance and claiming he could not recall the last time he was so uncomfortable. Overnight, however, it appears the car was transformed as the 28-year-old conjured the 29th pole of his Formula One career, and second with his new team this season.

On the second row, three-times world champion Sebastian Vettel just pipped Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber to third place, the Australian a winner here twice in the last three years.

Despite Mercedes's dominance on Saturdays this season, come Sunday it has been a different story as the team have predominantly struggled for race pace and slipped down the field. However, it is understood that they have made considerable strides in recent weeks to correct the car's faults when it comes to a race.

Behind the Mercedes and Red Bulls, Paul Di Resta produced the best qualifying performance of his career – the Scot will start fifth in his Force India. It was also a stunning performance from Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo as he will start sixth ahead of Adrian Sutil in his Force India.

Lotus's Romain Grosjean starts eighth, whereas title challengers Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso are a lowly ninth and 10th respectively.

McLaren's Jenson Button's hopes of ending his Silverstone podium hoodoo show no sign of coming to fruition, as he is down in 11th. Button has yet to finish in the top three in 13 attempts at this track.

"I'm higher than we expected to be. It's been very difficult this weekend, but we changed a few things for qualifying and it was much better, although still not quick," he said. "We should be positive, we've improved the car, and you never know what might happen."

Team-mate Sergio Perez, who suffered a punctured tyre in the final hour-long practice session that scuppered his running, will start 14th. Sandwiched in between are Ferrari's Felipe Massa and Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne, considerably behind the pace of Ricciardo as the duo battle for the upcoming vacancy at Red Bull.

Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg will line up 15th, with Pastor Maldonado 16th, the Venezuelan doing little to help Williams's 600th grands prix celebrations go with a swing this weekend. To add to Williams's woes, Valtteri Bottas could do no better than 17th.

Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez, like Bottas without a point so far in his rookie season, failed to make it out of Q1 for the sixth time in eight qualifying sessions this season.

Caterham's Charles Pic led the backmarkers and will start 19th, with Marussia's Jules Bianchi 20th, finishing 1.7secs ahead of team-mate Max Chilton.

Although Chilton posted the slowest time, the 22-year-old will move up to 21st as Caterham's Giedo van der Garde will drop to the final spot on the grid due to a five-place penalty incurred after running into Hulkenberg in Canada.

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