Hamilton has won at Silverstone four times in all and, should he triumph on Sunday, he would join Clark and Alain Prost with the most victories at the British Grand Prix. He would also equal Clark’s achievement of winning four British GPs in a row.
“The support from the fans really means a lot to me,” said Hamilton. “That energy inspires me to do laps like that. The track feels incredible and the engineers worked really hard to get the setup where we needed it. I grew up in these wet and chilly conditions so I felt at home. The final lap felt fantastic, I didn’t expect to have a gap like that but that was the target.”
Mercedes continue to show they have the edge over Ferrari over a single lap, the team have secured the top spot in eight of the 10 meetings thus far this season. Bottas finished in fourth but will take a five-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox, which had taken damage in the same way that affected Hamilton’s before the last round in Austria and resulted in the British driver taking the same penalty. The team opted to use a similar tyre strategy to that of Hamilton’s in Austria, having the Finn qualify on the harder soft rubber in Q2 – with which he will now start the race, able to go longer in the first stint. He will start from ninth on the grid.
Hamilton had led the first hot runs in Q3 and was two-tenths in front of Vettel but wanted more, concerned he was losing time through the first corner, and he absolutely nailed his second run, with a time of 1min 26.600sec, over a second clear of Raikkonen and Vettel.
The second session opened with the track just dry enough to take the slick rubber, if remaining a little greasy; conditions that were testing as the drivers looked for grip. Hamilton came out on top, running the supersoft tyre, and he looked menacingly good, a full second clear of Vettel in third.
In damp, drizzling conditions, the cars had gone out on the intermediate wet tyres for Q1. The first session was red-flagged when Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull came to a halt with a turbo failure. He will also take a five-place grid penalty due to a gearbox change and start from 19th on the grid.
Max Verstappen in the other Red Bull was in fifth and will start from fourth, followed by the Renault of Nico Hülkenberg, the two Force Indias of Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon, with Stoffel Vandoorne in ninth and Grosjean’s Haas in 10th.
Renault’s Jolyon Palmer went out in 11th in Q2, followed by the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat and his team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr.
It has been a difficult weekend for Williams on their 40th anniversary, with Felipe Massa eliminated in Q2 in 15th and his team-mate Lance Stroll out in Q1 in 16th. The Canadian was followed by the Haas of Kevin Magnussen and the Saubers of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson finished in 18th and 19th.