The new sprint-race-qualifying format is making its debut at Silverstone for the 2021 British GP. The fact made the usual qualifying session move on to Friday afternoon and the show brought us a close battle for sprint race pole with Lewis Hamilton being the fastest with a 1:26.134 lap.
Q1 saw all drivers lapping with the softest Pirelli as there's no compulsory compound for the start of tomorrow's qualifying sprint race. Max Verstappen topped the table when he outpaced Hamilton for 1st place by just 0.035s. The final great laps fighting for salvation saw an impressive Daniel Ricciardo, George Russell and Antonio Giovinazzi qualifying for Q2, as both Alpines, Ferraris and Aston Martins got through the first cut. A complicated Sergio Pérez finally situated 4th on the standings after being P14 for a moment.
The elimination zone concluded Q1 with Tsunoda, Raikkonen, Nicholas Latifi and both cars from Haas ending their session. As it stands, the end of the grid for the sprint race will see these drivers lining last.
Hamilton topped Q2 on his way to fighting Max Verstappen by 0.292s for P1. Fight for P10 saw an exciting battle between Fernando Alonso, Pierre Gasly, Esteban Ocon and George Russell that ended with an impressive P7 for the Williams driver, edging both McLarens P9 and P10, with Alonso's Alpine out of Q3 by just 0.025s. Sebastian Vettel reached Q3 for Aston Martin as both Ferraris got into the final part of Qualifying.
Fernando Alonso, Gasly's AlphaTauri, Esteban Ocon, Giovinazzi and Lance Stroll will line up 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th respectively.
First attempt on Q3 was for Lewis Hamilton as he was 0.172 quicker than Verstappen, as the Dutchman reported a lot of understeering on his car. George Russell lapped alone on track getting out after everyone else and went faster than the first lap done by the Ferraris.
Lewis Hamilton finally beat Max Verstappen for 0.075s when the Red Bull driver was fighting on his second attempt but did not improve Hamilton's flying lap. Valtteri Bottas will start P3 and an impressive Charles Leclerc P4, ahead of Sergio Pérez. George Russell qualified P8 ahead of Carlos Sainz and Sebastian Vettel. Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo will start P6 and P7 respectively in another good afternoon for the McLaren team.
Action resumes tomorrow for FP2 before heading into the first version of the sprint qualifying race. Lewis Hamilton will start first but he'll just have the Pole Position on his statistics if he wins Saturday's race. Tomorrow afternoon's final results will set the grid for the ultimate race on Sunday at Silverstone, in a weekend with a full crowd back in the stands.