What the teams said – Qualifying in Great Britain
In the cooler conditions, Mercedes headed the field in final practice, with Bottas looking the more composed of the two drivers. Roll on qualifying and that trend continued, as Hamilton even uncharacteristically spun in Q2, wrecking a set of tyres and having to run a second time. He did manage to make it through on the preferred medium compound though as did his team mate so both start on that tyre. That left the top 10 shootout and Bottas headed into it as favourite but couldn’t get close to Hamilton when it mattered. The reigning world champion put in another of his stunning qualifying performances to set a new track record in grabbing pole by three tenths, the seventh time he has started P1 at his home race.
Lewis Hamilton, 1st, 1:24.303
"This feeling never gets old, that's for sure! We made some changes to the car going into qualifying and it felt worse, so it was a real struggle out there in the first two sessions. At this track, there can be a headwind, tailwind and crosswind all at different parts of the circuit, so it's like juggling balls whilst you are on a moving plate. Qualifying is a lot about building confidence and after that spin in Q2, I had to take some deep breaths, compose myself and mentally reset - especially knowing Valtteri was putting in fast lap after fast lap. Q3 started off well, the first lap was nice and clean, but the second one was even better. A big thank you to everyone at the team, working at the track and at the factories not far from here, for all their tireless work and continuing to push us forward. I'm really proud to be a part of it. It's going to be strange racing out there tomorrow without any fans, we definitely miss them and it's just a completely different energy. I know they'll be watching from home and supporting us, so hopefully we can put on a good show for them."
Valtteri Bottas, 2nd, 1:24.616
"It's disappointing to be second but the reality is that Lewis found more time in Q3, I just couldn't quite catch him. He did a really good job today and deserves to be on pole. It was a pretty smooth session and I had some clean laps in Q1 and Q2 - the car felt pretty good out there. But I had a harder time in Q3 as I struggled to attack the slow-speed corners and the rear end was drifting more than before. But tomorrow is what counts and I think my long-run performance has been really good this weekend. I believe there will be opportunities, and everything is still wide open, so I'm looking forward to it."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"We can be very satisfied with our qualifying session today although I guess we're not making many new friends out there. Our car was working very well today, it was really in a league of its own and the performance shows all the smart work that has gone into it at the factories just down the road from here. Both Lewis and Valtteri really delivered today as well and were able to extract everything out of the car. We can be really happy the result today, but we know that the points are scored tomorrow, and our competitors will put up a hard fight. We're determined to give it everything and carry our momentum into the race to hopefully put on a good show for everyone supporting from home."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"Well done to the team and the drivers on this front row lockout, particularly to Lewis on his fantastic lap for pole. It's not been easy for him and Valtteri to put the laps together here; the wind has a big effect on the car balance and as soon as you start sliding, the tyre temperatures rise, and you lose grip. The conditions may have moved in our favour today, but we were also doing a better job of managing the tyre temperatures at the start of the lap. We're looking forward to the race tomorrow; we don't quite know where Red Bull are on pace. They looked very close to us on the long runs yesterday and have generally looked better in race trim than qualifying so we will be prepared for a fight and won't be taking anything for granted."
Albon lost further running in final practice with an electrical issue, and only managed a handful of laps as a result. Short on confidence and track time, he dropped out in Q2 for the second straight race. Verstappen seemed more comfortable in the RB16 and looked the most likely to push the Silver Arrows. He came home third in the end, albeit a staggering full second off Hamilton’s pole time. That was the bad news, but the good news is on race pace, Red Bull are much, much closer and he could well cause Mercedes some issues tomorrow.
Max Verstappen, 3rd, 1:25.325
“In general, I would say we had a good qualifying session and got everything out of the car that we could. My final lap in Q3 was good but you could see very early on that Mercedes were too fast, just like they have been for the past few races. I’m happy with P3 and it gives us a fighting chance for tomorrow, so I hope we can get a clean start and keep the pressure up. The wind is a big factor here and these cars are very sensitive to that. Yesterday it was really tricky with the low speed corners but we are still learning about the car and trying to improve it. I think we have found a good direction, it seems more predictable this weekend and it was a lot of fun to drive today. I don’t think there was much more I could do but let’s see tomorrow. We will try to score some good points, at least stay in third, but we always hope for a little bit more.”
Alex Albon, 12th, 1:26.545
“We were looking pretty strong this weekend and yesterday was a lot better than today but it’s not a weekend to forget yet and there is still a race tomorrow. We were on the back foot slightly heading into qualifying after missing the track time in FP3 and I just struggled getting up to speed. It was tricky out there, the wind is changing all the time and the balance changes with that so we needed a bit of fine tuning. The times in Q2 are also obviously very tight out there so a small amount of time was worth a lot of grid positions and we just lost out. It is what it is but tomorrow we have free tyre choice so hopefully we can do something special with that and get some good points.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“I would be lying if I said today hasn’t been frustrating, especially with the kind of margins we are looking at to Mercedes. We know this track always suits their car but they are incredibly quick at the moment but we have to keep the pressure on them as much as we can. The wind has a massive impact on the aero of these cars and their performance which can unsettle the car and in turn the driver. It was disappointing for Alex and the team not to make it to Q3 but losing the track time in FP3 hurt him, especially after yesterday’s off. Max did a great job to wring everything out of the car to line up on the second row which is actually our best qualifying here since 2016. The gap to the front remains our focus and clearly there is work to do for us as a team, but we won’t stop pushing. Our race pace is often more competitive compared with qualifying so hopefully we can maximize our points haul tomorrow with both cars.”
Vettel suffered more reliability woes today, complaining again that something was loose with his pedals. He didn’t look comfortable in the SF1000 and even had to use the soft tyre in Q2 in contrast to his team mate, who made it through on the medium compound. In Q3 it was Leclerc who impressed, running Verstappen close and grabbing his best qualifying of the year. Vettel ran wide on his push lap and had the time deleted as a result, and will line up in P10.
Sebastian Vettel, 10th, 1:26.339
"I have struggled a little bit the whole weekend so far and qualifying was a bit up and down. It was not ideal, as I found it difficult to get the car working for me, even though it was not too bad. I had trouble getting into a rhythm. So, it was not a good session and although we made it to Q3, we were not on the ideal tyre and didn’t make enough progress."
Charles Leclerc, 4th, 1:25.427
"A much better quali than we had hoped for. I am very very happy with the job we have done and with my final lap, where I think I got everything together and the car was feeling pretty good in terms of balance. I don’t think there was anything more to extract from the car and I am very pleased with P4. Also, I had a great lap in Q2 on the Medium tyres, which got us through to Q3. It was a really good decision.
"We have been struggling yesterday with race pace so realistically it’s going to be difficult tomorrow, but we have changed the car a little bit overnight, which didn’t affect our quali pace apparently, and with a good strategy, I hope we’ll manage to get some advantage from our tyre choice. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully we can score some good points."
Laurent Mekies, Sporting Director
"It was a very intense qualifying that ended with one driver fourth and the other tenth. Charles’ performance was magisterial, not just to get on the second row, the best we have done during this difficult start to the season, but also because he made the cut to the final part of qualifying on the Medium tyres, which is the best choice for the first stint of the race.
"Sebastian has had a rather troubled weekend so far and all the time he lost because of various technical issues certainly didn’t put him in the best possible shape for qualifying. Tenth place is essentially a logical consequence of that. Of course, we can’t be satisfied with this result, especially when one looks at the gap to pole position. We know we have a lot of work to do to close this gap and that’s what we are working on. Tomorrow’s race will be difficult, especially when it comes to tyre management. As usual, our aim is to bring home as many points as possible."
Sainz had looked the better of the two McLaren drivers all weekend, but Norris is making a bit of a name for himself in qualifying of late. The youngster turned things around and managed a very credible fifth at his home race with the Spaniard winding up seventh. Norris has now out-qualified his team mate 3-0 this season in the dry and will fancy his chances of good points tomorrow, especially with a potentially struggling Ferrari ahead.
Carlos Sainz, 7th, 1:25.965
“It was a very strong day for the team. For me in particular I’ve had a better feeling with the car as the weekend has gone by, so we made some progress on the balance and the set up. In general, I would say there’s still some work to do, but I’m happier with the car and we’re in a good position for tomorrow. My last lap in Q3 wasn’t exactly as I wanted though. I lost some time in the exits and with traction coming onto the long straights but, still, P7 and a good starting position for the race.”
Lando Norris, 5th, 1:25.782
“First of all, the team did a great job getting the car ready for quali because we had to make some big changes so we didn't quite get out on time – but we got out, so thanks to the team for their hard work. It was a messy qualifying: I made mistakes on a couple of my runs, especially the first one. I went off the track, compromised myself and lost a bit of confidence throughout the first half of qualifying, which wasn’t ideal.
“I was trying to play catch up and get in a good rhythm and I didn’t really do that until the final session. On the old tyres I matched what I did on the new tyres before, so I felt a bit more confident going onto the new set that had more grip, and I could push that little bit more. It’s a great result, especially here at my home race. Tomorrow’s the important day where we have to convert it into a good result.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal
“This is our fourth qualifying session of 2020 and we’ve got both cars into Q3 on all four occasions. Well done to the team here at the track and back home for making that possible, and also to the drivers who pulled out the laps when it mattered most.
“FP1 and FP2 were challenging, but the team worked hard overnight to improve the car which helped us maximise the performance of the new components we brought to the track on Friday. Both drivers were a lot happier with the balance in FP3, which gave us a lot of confidence going into qualifying. We had some extra work to do on the cars after P3 and both car crews did a great job to finish just in time. With the yellow flags, red flags, blustery wind and traffic management, there were a lot of variables in play this afternoon, but the team focused, worked hard and got through the challenges. Starting the race tomorrow in P5 and P7 is an excellent return and puts us in a position to fight for good points. We now need to switch our focus to preparing for the race tomorrow.”
A disappointing day truth be told. The Pink Panthers didn’t have the same pace in the car once the heatwave broke, and both nearly exited in Q2. As it was, Hulkenberg fell by the wayside first despite only trailing his team mate by 0.065s in Q2, with Stroll incredibly lucky to make Q3 after recording the exact same time as Gasly. He was given P10 as he had set his lap time earlier, and so moved into the top 10 fight. But once there, the Canadian struggled to make inroads and wound up sixth, somewhat unexpectedly behind a McLaren and a Ferrari. They do have good race pace though, and Hulkenberg will be one to watch as he’ll have free tyre choice…
Nico Hulkenberg, 13th, 1:26.566
“We were so close to making it to Q3, and I'm happy with that considering I've come in from the cold this weekend! It's a big ask after eight months away to come back and jump into a completely different environment – and into a Formula 1 car I've never driven before and immediately perform. Especially when Silverstone is such a high-speed challenge and the conditions were changeable throughout the day. That meant it was a little bit of a shock to the system today, and it was tricky to hook up the laps perfectly – especially in the first sector. It was a challenge to use both the soft and medium tyre in Q2 and maintain the rhythm, but we almost made the strategy work – which shows the team and I are working well together. I'm also starting to get an understanding of the car, so the goal is to keep learning and adapting quickly. We'll do our homework tonight and aim to score good points tomorrow."
Lance Stroll, 6th, 1:25.839
“The positive today is that we're starting P6 tomorrow and our strategy worked out – meaning we have the advantage of starting on the medium tyre and that should help us fight some of the cars around us. We're definitely in a position to fight for another good bunch of points, and that's the goal. We looked stronger in practice yesterday, so we need to go away and understand how we can come back stronger tomorrow. It was difficult to find the optimum balance of the car today, and that affected us in the first sector - we lost a little bit of time there in qualifying. The temperature and wind conditions were different today and were quite changeable, so that was a challenge to work around as well. Overall, I'm happy with our position and tomorrow is another day. I'm confident we can make some positive steps overnight and be in good shape for our home race.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO
“We took an aggressive approach to qualifying today with Lance running on the medium tyres in Q2. It was a difficult call, but we felt the strategic benefits for the race made the risk worthwhile. Lance made it work and progressed to Q3. Nico didn’t quite make the top ten – which is understandable given that he’s been thrown in at the deep end and only drove the car for the first time yesterday. From P13, with competitive race pace, I’m confident he can score points tomorrow. Lance wasn’t totally happy with his Q3 lap, but sixth place on the grid sets us up nicely for our home race. The margins were very close today – which shows how competitive the entire grid is this year – and it will be the same tomorrow. I think we can take the fight to the teams around us and come away with another strong result.”
Both drivers looked comfortable today in the R.S.20 and made Q3 with ease. They couldn’t get the beating of their rivals McLaren over one lap, but Ricciardo won the intra-team battle by exactly two tenths to line up eighth. Ocon found himself in hot water after the session after being called to the stewards to explain an incident with Raikkonen from Q1 where the Frenchman appeared to impede the Finn. Luckily for him, they opted to take no further action.
Daniel Ricciardo, 8th, 1:26.009
“I’m happy with eighth place today, especially in quite tricky conditions. It was a clean lap, no mistakes, nothing too spectacular, but good enough for eighth and just short of seventh. It was pretty close there with a few of us within half a second of each other. We’ve been in and around the top 10 all weekend, so we can be pleased with today’s performance. Tomorrow’s race will be interesting, especially in the battle for sixth or maybe fifth position. We’re starting on the softs, as are most people around us, so we’ll see what we can do. Taking home good points is the target.”
Esteban Ocon, 9th, 1:26.209
“It’s been a good qualifying overall. It was a very positive session, especially Q1 and Q2, where we were quite comfortable. We lost it a little bit in Q3, so we’ll review what happened there. I’m happy with the progress from Hungary and we need to keep going. We seem to have better pace on Sundays, and qualifying has been the area where we’ve needed to find the most improvements. I think tomorrow will be good, we’re in amongst the top 10 and we have a good opportunity for some decent points.”
Alan Permane, Sporting Director
“It was a tricky session with the conditions as the wind was picking up between Q1 and Q2, which made it difficult and often unpredictable, especially in the very high-speed corners here. We’re very happy to have both cars in Q3, of course, and we have promising starting positions on the grid. Now, we look forward to a trouble-free race tomorrow. Our race pace, as ever, looks very strong from our Friday simulations, so we will look to capitalise on our start positions and make sure we score decent points in the race.”
Not much has been said about AlphaTauri this weekend with all eyes on their midfield rivals. But they have quietly and efficiently worked their way up the field and looked an outside bet for Q3. As it was Gasly was incredibly unlucky after setting the exact same time as Stroll’s Racing Point to the thousandth of a second, but as the Canadian had lapped first, he took P10 and the coveted Q3 slot. That does leave the Frenchman with free tyre choice in 11th though. Kvyat wound up 14th but has a five-place grid drop for the race tomorrow for fitting a new gearbox.
Pierre Gasly, 11th, 1:26.501
“I’m happy with my qualifying today! We had the pace for Q3 again and matching the lap time of Racing Point, which is at the moment one of the top cars on the grid, is really positive and it means we did a pretty good job on our side. Starting the race from P11 tomorrow gives us a free tyre choice and I think we have the chance for a good result in the race. We made progress since the start of the weekend so hopefully, we can finish within the top 10 tomorrow and bring home some points.”
Daniil Kvyat, 14th, 1:26.744
“My lap was really good and I’m quite satisfied with it. We changed a few things and I felt more comfortable in the car today, I had more confidence going through certain corners, which felt great, and the only place where I was losing a bit of time compared to Pierre was the straight line. I’m starting five positions further back due to my penalty, so I know it won’t be easy tomorrow, but I generally feel strong during the race. I will push as hard as I can, as scoring points still remains my goal.”
Jody Egginton, Technical Director
“What we learned yesterday and today in FP3 suggests that the new parts we have introduced at this event, combined with the new set up direction investigated during Friday, have combined into an improved package here in Silverstone which both drivers are managing to exploit, and this is positive. However, the midfield is very competitive, so we need to continue on this trajectory.
“Q1 itself was as expected, we navigated the session without incident whilst Q2 was interrupted by a red flag when both cars were out for their first run. As such, there was only the opportunity for a single run at the end of the session, which wasn’t ideal. Pierre set an identical time to Stroll on his final run but later in the session, so he qualified P11 and not P10, whilst Dany qualified 14th, but unfortunately has a five-place grid penalty due to a gearbox change.
“Although in some respects it’s disappointing not to make it to Q3, having one car in 11th position provides some extra strategy options, so we should feature in the midfield fight from lights out. As for Dany, we are probably going to have to be more creative to try and get him into the same position.”
Haas were slightly unlucky – both drivers went out early in Q1 to try and improve, but had their flying laps scuppered by yellow flags. Nonetheless, they have been off the pace so far this weekend so wouldn’t have expected much more than P16 and P19. The team did turn lowly grid slots into a point last time out though, so there is always a chance.
Romain Grosjean, 19th, 1:27.643
“I felt really good in FP3, I was happy with the car, especially with the balance. We made a few changes for qualifying, but the car just didn’t behave the same. That’s really something we’ve been suffering with – session-to-session it’s not quite the same. It was complicated. We had three attempts in Q1 but none of them were really good. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow. We’re in England, lots can happen with the weather. It was supposed to rain for qualifying and we’ve got blue sky. Maybe tomorrow will be the opposite and we can take advantage of it.”
Kevin Magnussen, 16th, 1:27.158
“We saw this coming. It was our expectation coming into this race weekend, but we did the job that we could in qualifying ahead of the Alfa Romeos, who are our main competitors. That’s all we can do at the moment. There’s a bit of a jump to the next group. As long as we make sure we get the most out of qualifying, even though we’re a little weak there, that’s what we have to focus on – being as high up there as we can. There are a few guys now that might have some penalties, so that might push us a little bit further up the grid. Who knows, that might move us closer to hopefully scoring points again.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“I’m not really happy with the result, but it’s not unexpected after the free practices we’ve had at the circuit. It’s just so difficult for us to get out of Q1, that’s where we are now. There’s nothing else to do than to go through it, and hopefully tomorrow our starting slots will be a bit better once penalties are applied to the grid. We’ll try to get the race pace together like we did in Hungary and hopefully we can make something out of it.”
After both drivers spun yesterday, Alfa would have hoped for a quieter day but it was far from it. First Raikkonen was impeded by his team mate in final practice, causing the Finn to utter several expletives at the team. But worse was to come when he was again impeded, this time in qualifying by a dawdling Ocon. Both drivers wound up exiting in Q1 yet again and remain the only team yet to feature in Q2 this season.
Kimi Raikkonen, 18th, 1:27.366
“The car has been stronger this weekend, I had a good feeling with it and the handling was good, but it’s obvious we are still missing something. I could have been a bit higher up on the grid but I got held up at the last corner, although in fairness the end result wouldn’t have been too different. We have things to work on as a team, we made an improvement but we need to keep going in this direction. Tomorrow’s race should be interesting: I expect us to be better and we should be fighting for a place in the top 10.”
Antonio Giovinazzi, 17th, 1:27.164
“We have made a few steps forward so we can be happy about this: there is still a lot of work to do, of course, but we are a bit closer to the others and we are moving in the right direction, which is giving us a lot of motivation. I am very happy with my lap, I feel it was as good as it could have been but it was just not enough for a place in Q2. As in the previous rounds, our race pace looks a bit better so I think we have a chance to battle for some points. We will try to have a good start, put up a good fight and we’ll see what happens.”
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
“We are still far from where we want to be, but we are heading in the right direction. We are getting closer to a place in Q2 and we have to take this as motivation to progress further. Antonio’s and Kimi’s laps were as good as they could be, except for some traffic at the end of Kimi’s, and we can look positively at the small gap we had from the top 15. Our task now is to convert these starting positions into points: our race pace has been considerably better than what we have shown on Saturday, so we need to maximise the opportunities it will offer us to claim a place in the top 10.”
Williams didn’t look to be as competitive at their home race as in Hungary, but Russell did make Q2 for the third straight race. He found himself in hot water after the session, though, with the stewards ruling that he'd failed to slow sufficiently for yellow flags, and demoting Russell five places on the grid for Sunday's race. Those flags were out for his team mate Latifi, who spun off at the end of Q1, but fortunately kept his FW43 out of the barriers.
George Russell, 15th, 1:27.092
"We have got to be pleased with our performance. It is three races in a row now we have been faster on Saturday and slower on Sunday, and so we tried to set the car up more for Sunday, so I was quite surprised with the performance we had today. The car felt great it was really fun driving around the track. Once we made it to Q2 we always want more, but our realistic goal was to out qualify the Haas and the Alfa, because the next team, AlphaTauri were just too far ahead. I was pleased with the job I did, and we will see what happens tomorrow."
Nicholas Latifi, 20th, 1:27.705
"We made a big reset with the car overnight to be more competitive. The car was feeling much better and I had a lot more confidence. I am very disappointed with myself and the mistake I made on my final lap. I got too greedy on the throttle, and just spun the car around. I think if I had actually done the lap, I probably could have done a lap good enough for Q2 that George showed was possible. We had some doubts coming into this weekend about the potential of the car in qualifying relative to how it was in Budapest. So it shows that the gains still carry over to a track like this. There are some positive signs, I am just a bit frustrated from my side of the garage."
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
"The pace of the car today was quite good and confirmed that we did a good job yesterday and overnight. After FP3 both drivers felt that the car had improved since Friday and were looking forward to qualifying. The gusty conditions this afternoon made driving a little difficult and unfortunately Nicholas succumbed to the wind on his final timed lap. The resulting yellow flag forced George to slow down and lose time on a rapidly evolving track. His time was still good enough to qualify for Q2 for the third race in a row, but unfortunately the stewards considered that he did not react appropriately to the yellow flag and consequently has been awarded a five-place grid penalty for tomorrow’s race.
"Cooler conditions are expected tomorrow, but Silverstone remains a demanding track for the tyres and a variety of strategies can be expected during the race. We have tried to rebalance our qualifying and race pace this weekend having recently found races a little more difficult than qualifying. We will see tomorrow if we have made progress in this regard.
"Whatever happens tomorrow, both drivers did well today with Nicholas quickly adapting to the test items that George looked at yesterday, and George showing strong pace throughout the day. The pace of the car continues to improve and our ability to adapt the set-up from the high downforce demands of Hungary to the high efficiency of Silverstone bodes well for the rest of the season, especially when we look forward to the next triple-header which begins in Spa in a few weeks’ time."
Mario Isola, head of F1 and Car Racing
"With temperatures being quite a lot cooler than they were yesterday, the teams needed to confirm the data collected so far ahead of qualifying, which made FP3 in the morning particularly important. The key point of qualifying was the medium tyre, used by half the top 10 to get through Q2. The top four starters will begin the race on this compound, which isn’t the fastest way on paper, but does offer more options and a longer first stint on a circuit that’s renowned for taking a lot out of the tyres. The circuit got progressively faster throughout the qualifying session, with a new track record set twice in Q3".