What the teams said – Qualifying in Great Britain

Special Contributor

Becky Hart
NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 16: Lance Stroll of Canada driving the (18) Aston Martin AMR21 Mercedes


What a turnaround. The Silver Arrows trailed Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by a huge margin in practice, but turned the tables superbly come qualifying. Hamilton pulled one of his best laps out of the bag on his first run in Q3 to pile the pressure on his rival, and looked set for an even better time on his next lap until losing the rear through the final corner. Nonetheless, that first effort was good enough to seal the P1 grid slot for the inaugural Sprint tomorrow. As for Bottas, he played the team game by towing Hamilton on both laps in Q3, with his final go good enough for a strong P3 on the grid.

Lewis Hamilton, 1st, 1:26.134

"I am so grateful to see everyone here - to come to the Silverstone Grand Prix and have a full crowd and see the energy is amazing. When I was coming into this weekend, I was hopeful that with the great work we have done together in the team, plus the energy of the fans, it would get us there.

"Red Bull were very quick in the practice session but we were just staying focused on our job and trying to layer up - I was in the sim this morning as a practice session because it's the first time ever we have had a morning free. I was just putting in the time, trying to give absolutely everything and leave no stone unturned.

"We've been working so hard, putting so much effort and time in - at the track, on the sim, in the factory - just trying to stay centred and squeeze every last thing out of this car. It's been such a difficult time for everyone and we finally got all the fans here at the British Grand Prix, and the desire to want to deliver for everyone is beyond belief."

Valtteri Bottas, 3rd, 1:26.328

"I think the last lap was really good, I was the first one out in free air with no tow so if I consider that, it was a good lap. As a team we are at the front in the fight which is great to see - Red Bull looked strong in Practice and it was a bit worrying but it's all to play for.

"Today was only Qualifying, we have the Sprint Race tomorrow with lots of opportunities and I'm looking forward to it - as a team we'll try to get the best result. It was great to feel the energy and the atmosphere of the crowd today, it's really cool to see the fans here."

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

"Well done to Lewis on another pole position; they haven't been easy to come by this year but it was a solid job throughout and a relief that his first lap in the final session was enough to secure the top spot. Our morning was focused on learning; there's simply too much work to fit into one hour but we managed to do a decent mix of long run and single lap work. Our single lap pace was uninspiring in Practice but we managed to find a direction to improve grip and balance going into Qualifying which showed in the timesheets. Valtteri's final run was a good lap but compromised by being first car out; we'll review our timing on that as we could have potentially secured the front row had we found him a car in front. Overall, the pace was strong from both cars and that's reassuring given that we've had a tough time in recent qualifying sessions."

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NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 16: Fastest qualifier Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 16, 2021 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Red Bull

Verstappen looked absolutely imperious in FP1, winding up nearly eight tenths ahead of the field. He looked equally strong in the opening segment of qualifying, but as the track cooled off, his pace started to waiver. Unable to match Hamilton’s opening effort in Q3, the Dutchman did everything he could next time around but wound up a tenth short as he had to settle for P2. Perez had his fastest lap time deleted in Q3 due to track limit infringements, which resulted in the Mexican losing fourth place on the grid. He’ll have a chance to make up for that when the Sprint gets underway.

Max Verstappen, 2nd, 1:26.209

“Of course I am disappointed because I wanted to start first tomorrow but we have the sprint qualifying race to decide the main grid and then Sunday as well so we will try and get them back. Overall, the car was handling quite well but we just had a lot of understeer and I couldn’t really attack the corners as I was waiting for the front to grip up. It was a bit of a weird feeling to drive and I don’t think it was set-up or front wing related, so maybe front tyres, but we will look at it and it’s nothing dramatic. To be this close is still very good for us on a track we expected Mercedes to be very strong and we know we have a good race car so I’m still confident for the rest of the weekend.”

Sergio Perez, 5th, 1:26.844

“I ran wide into Turn 15 and my best lap time was deleted which is a bit of a shame but those are the rules and luckily I only lost one place. P4 would have been a bit better but we have the sprint race to make it further up the grid for Sunday so still there is plenty to play for. We improved the car a lot as the day went on but I found a bit of a difference in the balance at the end of Q3 and couldn’t get the most out of the car. I’m looking forward to tomorrow as it will be interesting to see what happens with the new sprint format and how much progress we are able to make in that race.”

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NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 16: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda in the Pitlane during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 16, 2021 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)


With track characteristics that are more similar to Paul Ricard, Ferrari fans might have feared the worst today but the Scuderia instead defied expectations to manage a very strong Friday showing. Both cars made it to Q3 comfortably, but their first runs were on used soft tyres which cost them pace. On their second and final runs, Leclerc managed a stellar lap despite complaining about strange noises from his engine, but Sainz couldn’t match his team mate and wound up down the order.

Charles Leclerc, 4th, 1:26.828

"I’m very happy with today’s result. Going into qualifying with so little preparation makes things a bit more tricky, but also exciting. We did a good job in maximizing the potential of our car. Overall, I felt confident, especially in Q1. In Q2, I was not at the level that I wanted to be, but I regained my confidence and pace for the final session, finishing in P4. I think it was the best result we could have hoped for. In terms of expectations for tomorrow, we have to wait and see. We are all heading into an unknown – to battle it out in the first Sprint Qualifying in Formula 1. We will use FP2 to prepare as well as we can, and give it our all to bring home the best possible result."

Carlos Sainz, 9th, 1:27.007

"I’m not fully satisfied with this quali. I had a good feeling with the car from the start of the session, building confidence every lap up to Q2, where I put together a strong lap time to make it into Q3. In the very last attempt however, I struggled a bit more and a couple of small mistakes here and there meant I couldn’t match that lap from Q2, losing a tenth or so that unfortunately today was very costly, as it was extremely tight. It is a pity, because the car had the pace and the lap time was there. The Sprint Qualifying gives us a good opportunity to push tomorrow, though. Time to focus on that. The weekend is far from over yet and I will give it my all until the end."

Laurent Mekies, Racing Director

"A good qualifying for us on the very demanding Silverstone track. There was a very close fight throughout the session for those behind the top three. In Q3, the smallest of gaps meant the difference between being on the second or fifth rows and our drivers finished at either end of this group of six drivers. Charles did a very good job all day and fourth place was a nice reward. A shame for Carlos who had the speed to be a bit further up the grid for tomorrow. We had prepared carefully for this weekend, the first with the new format and I think we saw the fruits of our efforts. We know that here more than ever, race pace is more important than performance over a single lap and that on a track like this, it is the most difficult challenge facing us. Now we must concentrate on the second round, namely Sprint Qualifying, which presents new challenges to the teams and drivers. We will have to do a good job and make the most of the second free practice to be as well prepared for this major new element of the weekend, without forgetting that the Grand Prix is on Sunday."

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NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 16: Carlos Sainz of Spain driving the (55) Scuderia Ferrari SF21 during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 16, 2021 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)


Norris was on scintillating form in FP1, coming home second despite running the medium compound tyre. Ricciardo wasn’t too far back either, which boded well for qualifying. As the track cooled, the Aussie had to work hard towards the end of both Q1 and Q2 to progress to the top 10 shootout, and once there came agonisingly close to beating his team mate. In the end the two were separated by just 0.002s and look set to resume battle for intra-team honours tomorrow.

Daniel Ricciardo, 7th, 1:26.899

“On the whole it was a really positive day. I had really good speed all through qualifying, made some good steps and felt good with the car, so that’s important. I can’t help but feel frustrated because it’s so close to P4 and it’s always when you’re at the back of the close pack that you feel it most. But anyway, it’s progress, it’s good, it’s positive. It’s always easy to find that half a tenth with hindsight and I feel it probably was there.

“Sprint qualifying tomorrow, we’ll see what happens, get a good start, make some positions and get up to fourth, where I believe we could've been today. That’s the plan tomorrow.”

Lando Norris, 6th, 1:26.897

"Tricky day with this different format, just because of the time limits you have. With less track time than we're used to, it makes it much more challenging to know what decisions to make, and you take a couple more gambles based on the information you have. Saying that, I don’t think we could've done a lot better than sixth. Maybe there was something here or there, but at the end of the day I'm satisfied with where we are. We have FP2 tomorrow to prepare for the sprint, so we’ll see what we can do."

Andrea Stella, Racing Director

“Interesting day! The practice session this afternoon was intense, but we got through our programme and were well prepared for qualifying. Qualifying itself was very, very competitive, with several teams producing good lap-times, making getting through the sessions by no means a foregone conclusion. Ultimately, we managed to make it into Q3 with both cars, Lando and Daniel drove very well and we're very happy with the positions. It’s only the first step of a longer weekend, however, and we’re looking forward to sprint qualifying and the race.”

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NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 16: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren F1 Team MCL35M Mercedes during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 16, 2021 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)


Having propped up the field in practice, and at a windy track where their car was expected to struggle, not much was expected of George Russell here. He had to pull a last gasp lap out of the bag in Q1, demoting his team mate down the order in the process. He again needed a late effort in Q2, this time at the expense of Alonso who had been clinging on to P10. Into Q3 for the second straight race, the Williams man opted to run just the once, by himself, roared on by the crowd. He managed to set a time good enough for P8, beating a Ferrari and an Aston Martin in the process. But can he stay there come tomorrow?

George Russell, 8th, 1:26.971

"It was our best qualifying session, and to do it in front of a home crowd was such an amazing feeling. This morning in FP1 I had no confidence with the car, and here we are in P8! Following practice, we had a decision to make to try and improve the car or stick to our guns and hope the track came towards us, which it did. Everything got in a much nicer window and I felt confident and comfortable out there which allowed me to get that extra tenth or two. Ultimately, we did a fantastic job to get there and it is about tomorrow now. It is not going to be easy, but we need to be aggressive and get on the front foot."

Nicholas Latifi, 18th, 1:28.254

"The car was feeling good and I could have done a better lap if the car balance had been in a slightly better window but overall, I am quite pleased. When I finished the lap, I was happy and then frustrated. Happy as a I felt it was a good lap but frustrated that it was slow. We have both the Sprint Qualifying and the Grand Prix itself to move forwards and we have FP2 to try and see if we can improve the issue, so that’s what we are going to focus on."

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

"Today has been a busy but exciting day. We felt that we struggled a little in FP1, but we were happy that we had done the work that we needed to in order to set the car up ready for Saturday and Sunday. Going into Qualifying we made a few minor changes to the cars to suit the cooler track temperature and calmer wind conditions.

"From the first run in Qualifying, both drivers were happy with their cars and were confident to push harder each lap. Nicholas was losing time on the straights compared to George and this is something that we need to investigate because it wasn’t expected. George benefited from having five sets of tyres in the session and was able to improve with each lap. His final lap in Q3, at his home race and with the circuit to himself was great to see and he made the most of the opportunity with yet another excellent qualifying lap.

"With the cars now in Parc Ferme, our attention turns to finalising the plans for FP2 and tomorrow’s inaugural Sprint Qualifying session. We can’t change much on the car, but there are still a lot of decision to be made, which could determine the final grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix.

"There is still a long way to go this weekend, but we are pleased with our start and we are looking forward to seeing how the strategies unfold over the next two days."

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Williams' British driver George Russell gestures after the sprint race qualifying session ahead of the Formula One British Grand Prix at the Silverstone motor racing circuit in Silverstone, central England on July 16, 2021. (Photo by LARS BARON / various sources / AFP) (Photo by LARS BARON/AFP via Getty Images)

Aston Martin

Sebastian Vettel was the happier of the two Aston Martin drivers after practice, with his team mate needing far more set up changes between sessions. Ultimately that confidence proved important, with Lance Stroll dropping out in Q2 while Vettel made Q3. Once there though, the German lost a lap time to track limits which left him in a lowly P10 slot. Fortunately with the whole field having free tyre choice, he won't have better shod rivals in his wing mirrors come tomorrow's Sprint.

Sebastian Vettel, 10th, 1:27.179

“I would have liked to end Q3 higher up because the car has looked competitive and the pace came quite easily today. Overall, it was a decent session: I was happy with my best lap in Q2, but in Q3 I struggled to find more from the car. So I think we could have been a few places higher up. It was great to see the big crowd here today and I guess the new format made Friday more interesting for the fans.”

Lance Stroll, 15th, 1:27.665

“P15 is not how we wanted to start our home event, but there is an opportunity to improve tomorrow thanks to the Sprint Race format. I was not totally comfortable in the car during practice, but I think we made some progress in qualifying, although it was not enough to make Q3. It was a challenge to only have one practice session today before qualifying, but it is the same for everyone. We will go away tonight and learn from today to make sure we maximise the second practice session before Sprint Qualifying.”

Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO

“We had some technical difficulties with Lance’s car in Q1, which necessitated our having to make some changes to it for Q2. He did his best with that new set-up in Q2, but he was hampered by oversteer at Maggotts and Becketts, as a result of which he was not able to progress to Q3. Sebastian was happier with his car and, benefiting from a few tenths advantage of a fresh engine, duly made it through to Q3, although on his best Q3 lap he lost a small amount of time at Turns Six and Seven, and Turns 11 and 12. But what matters most now is converting today’s results into as good a performance as possible in tomorrow’s Sprint Race Qualifying, so as to optimise our chances of scoring solid points in Sunday’s feature race.”

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NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 16: Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Aston Martin AMR21 Mercedes in the Pitlane during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 16, 2021 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)


Esteban Ocon was the Alpine driver to come straight out the garage in practice and find the set up of his A521 to his liking, while Alonso was left to complain about unexplained understeer. They did look quick enough to make the top 10 though, so it was something of a surprise to see both drivers exit in Q2. Ocon at least made it out of Q1 for the first time since France, while Alonso’s view of narrowly missing out on Q3 thanks to Russell’s late improvement was that he had suffered at the hands of ‘karma’.

Esteban Ocon, 13th, 1:27.340

“Overall, I’m pleased with today even if the result is slightly disappointing. I’m happy to see that we’re back on the pace and getting the maximum out of the car. Thanks to everyone at Enstone, Viry and at the track for all their hard work over the last week. Qualifying was going well until the last run, when we had a messy out lap. That was a shame as we were quick enough for Q3 today. It’s all to play for tomorrow in Sprint Qualifying.”

Fernando Alonso, 11th, 1:27.245

“It was tricky today, but I think we had a little bit more pace in the car to get into Q3. The traffic was quite difficult to manage and the out laps in Q2 were a bit messy. It was unfortunate to be out before Q3, but it’s a new format this weekend. We have another opportunity tomorrow to gain places on the grid until we race on Sunday. Let’s see what we can learn and improve ready for tomorrow. The atmosphere was amazing today and it really felt like we were racing so I hope the fans enjoyed it.”

Davide Brivio, Racing Director

“It’s been a good qualifying; even if we didn’t go through to Q3. In reality, we were very close to it. We had the potential to be there, but a little bit of traffic was just enough to knock us out. So, we start eleventh and thirteenth on the grid, but we have another chance tomorrow with the Sprint Qualifying to improve our position for the main race. We need to go in with a positive approach, use it as an opportunity and try to use it to our advantage to gain some places.”

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NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 16: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) Alpine A521 Renault during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 16, 2021 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)


AlphaTauri normally start their weekends strongly, so it was something of a surprise to find neither driver in the top 10 in FP1. But that proved to be a genuine reflection of their pace or lack thereof, with Pierre Gasly failing to make the top 10 in qualifying for only the second time this season. As for Yuki Tsunoda, he fell at the first time of asking, the lack of practice time not aiding the rookie on his F1 Silverstone debut.

Pierre Gasly, 12th, 1:27.273

“Since FP1 we’ve struggled with the car balance, far more than usual. We made some changes for Qualifying, but it just wasn’t enough. I was happy with my lap in Q2 but as I crossed the line, I knew it wasn’t going to be enough, it was just so tight out there today. I think it’s going to be hard the next few days, because we can’t make changes to the car anymore. We only have FP2 to understand the tyre better ahead of the Sprint Qualifying and Sunday’s race, but we’ll fight as hard as always, it’s a different format and lots of things can happen, you never know.”

Yuki Tsunoda, 16th, 1:28.043

“After FP1 I’d started to get used to the circuit, but I had a lot of traffic and never managed to put together a perfect lap. So, going into Qualifying after just one session was always going to be difficult. It’s a shame to be out in Q1 today, but the field was really tight at the end and I struggled again with traffic on my final push lap. Starting tomorrow from P16 I think will be difficult, but I’ll give it everything I’ve got during Sprint Qualifying and we’ll see what I can do.”

Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer

“It’s been a tough day for us here in Silverstone. We haven’t been able to show the performance we expected or had demonstrated at previous races. With the new Sprint Qualifying format, FP1 was focused on normal Qualifying preparation and sustainable running. The performance on the mediums was aligned to our expectations, but when fitting the softs we struggled more than we expected.

"We analysed the data and made some changes for Qualifying, but without the usual sessions before entering Parc Ferme, we weren’t able to tune the car as much as we would do normally. The changes made did improve the car, but they were not enough to enter into Q3. Yuki was looking set to progress into Q2, but a traffic jam in the last corner when starting his final lap cost him nearly 0.2s before turn one – he did well to make most of this time back, but sadly it was not enough.

"Pierre’s laps were clean, but we just didn’t have the pace today, so we really need to work on understanding this, as it’s still not clear to us why we are struggling. We now have another practice session to focus more on long run performance and tyres, so I am confident we can extract more from the car in Sprint Qualifying and eventually the race.”

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NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 16: Pierre Gasly of Scuderia AlphaTauri and France during practice/qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 16, 2021 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Alfa Romeo

It was more of the same for Alfa Romeo, with kimi Raikkonen dropping out in Q1 for the fourth straight race. As for Antonio Giovinazzi, he made Q2 but had to run used soft tyres once there which didn’t help his cause. Winding up 14th, he needs a dose of luck off the line in tomorrow’s Sprint, after having contact at the last two race starts in Austria.

Kimi Raikkonen, 17th, 1:28.062

“We were hoping for more so to be out in Q1 is not great: there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with the lap, but there was simply no more I could get. Now let’s focus on the Sprint race: it’s a new format so let’s see what we can get from it. We need to do our best and make up some places as we have done in previous races to give ourselves a better shot on Sunday.”

Antonio Giovinazzi, 14th, 1:27.617

“It was quite a peculiar day, but it was fun to have just one hour of practice and then go straight into qualifying. Once again, we were strong enough to get into Q2, but that was pretty much as far as we could go. We were a bit too far from Q3 today. Let’s see how it goes tomorrow: the Sprint will be important for Sunday and we approach it with a simple strategy – get positions on lap one but try not to take too many risks. Making progress after the start won’t be easy with no stops, but we can still aim to gain ground in the opening stages.”

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal

“Every time we enter qualifying, we aim to place two cars in Q2 as a minimum objective: and even though we have made a big step forward compared to where we were when we raced in Silverstone last year, the margins are so thin that just a tiny gap means you miss out. Antonio did a good job in Q1 but unfortunately Kimi couldn’t make the cut. In Q2, we were able to leave one of the Aston Martins behind but that was as far as we could go. We remain confident, however: our race pace has been stronger than our single lap’s so far, and if we can make up some places in tomorrow’s Sprint, we can be in a good position to mount a challenge for the points on Sunday.”

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NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 16: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland driving the (7) Alfa Romeo Racing C41 Ferrari during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 16, 2021 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)


With only one practice session, it was always going to be a tough ask for the two rookies to make much headway in such a competitive field. They did both have a clean session, with Mick Schumacher in particular very happy with the handling of his car. He pipped his team mate once more, to keep his record of beating Nikita Mazepin over one lap in every qualifying they have both featured in intact.

Mick Schumacher, 19th, 1:28.738

“It was positive in one way because we made some changes that felt good, but obviously the pace we have is unfortunately all we’ve got. Of course, we could’ve improved here or there but generally it wasn’t possible to get into Q2. Still, the work is not done yet. We will keep on pushing, keep on trying and keep working on ourselves. It was interesting to see how everybody was excited to try something new and I’m excited to see how sprint qualifying will go. It’s a chance for us if some cars have issues, we might profit from that. As long as we are in the race, we’re in contention of starting a bit further ahead than we are now, so fingers crossed and let’s go forwards.”

Nikita Mazepin, 20th, 1:29.051

“It was one of our better qualifying performances in terms of the balance. I think after having a very frustrating second race in Austria, it was good to get that. It feels a little like Formula 2, where I came from. I have great memories from Formula 2 here last year when I won my first race. There’s loads of similarities and I have to say I really like this environment. I generally really like how the weekend goes and I think you just need to see how many people have come out on a Friday, I’ve never seen that before in my life – so it was really cool to be out there.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

“It was a great day today at Silverstone with the crowds back again and Lewis (Hamilton) going on pole for the Sprint – fantastic for the sport. We did our best and more was not possible. We didn’t damage anything, and now we’re getting ready for tomorrow for the new format of Sprint qualifying. We’ll see if there is something for us there. We will try our best.”

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NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 16: Nikita Mazepin of Russia driving the (9) Haas F1 Team VF-21 Ferrari during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 16, 2021 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)


Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing

"There was a lot for the teams to get used to with the new format, influencing the way in which they used their tyres, bearing in mind the half-hour sprint qualifying race tomorrow that the teams will want to run without pit stops. Considering the severity of this circuit, there's an important decision to be made about whether to run on the medium – which should be the most popular choice – or soft tyre tomorrow, keeping in mind also the mandatory tyres that will be needed for the grand prix on Sunday. As a result, there is quite a complex set of parameters for the teams to take into account with no previous experience to fall back on. And this is why many teams ran all three compounds in FP1 to gather as much information on them as possible. Qualifying was obviously much straightforward than usual with all the drivers running on the soft from start to finish, culminating in a fight for the fastest time that was extremely closely-fought at one of the most demanding tracks for tyres of the year."


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