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Hamilton lights up Silverstone as F1 runs Friday qualifying for first time in 18 years

Hamilton lights up Silverstone as F1 runs Friday qualifying for first time in 18 years

F1 News

Hamilton lights up Silverstone as F1 runs Friday qualifying for first time in 18 years

Hamilton lights up Silverstone as F1 runs Friday qualifying for first time in 18 years

Lewis Hamilton will start F1's first sprint race from the top spot on the grid as a sun-bathed Silverstone ushered in a new format across the British Grand Prix weekend.

It was qualifying but not with the ending as we know it for while Hamilton thrilled his home crowd by setting the fastest time across the hour-long session, the FIA has decided it will not count for his pole position tally.

Instead, Hamilton will simply lead away the field in his Mercedes on Saturday for the 17-lap sprint race, the outcome of which will then set the grid for Sunday's grand prix, and with the winner claiming the official pole.

Hamilton beat Red Bull driver Max Verstappen by just 0.075s in what was F1's first Friday qualifying since 2003, and that after making a sizeable mistake in the final sector, with the Briton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas claiming third.

Verstappen complained bitterly about his RB16B over the radio as he said: "The car is good but she's understeering to the moon, and the front wing is doing nothing."

With three points for the winner on offer for the sprint race, two for second and one for third, Hamilton has a chance to close the 32-point cushion that has grown to Verstappen in the recent races.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc starts fourth ahead of Red Bull's Sergio Perez, with Lando Norris sixth in his McLaren followed by team-mate Daniel Ricciardo as the Australian finally found form over one lap.

George Russell starts from the highest grid position of his career, starting eighth to follow up the 10th he claimed a fortnight ago in Austria.

After remarkably finishing seventh quickest at the end of Q2, that drew huge cheers from tens of thousands of British fans around the circuit.

"Did we make it?" enquired Russell at the end of the 15-minute second session. When informed he had, the response was euphoric as he said: "Come on! Yes, boys!"

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz and Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel line up on the fifth row in ninth and 10th.

Alpine would have felt disappointment at the end of Q2 as neither Fernando Alonso nor Esteban Ocon made it into the top 10 shoot-out, with the duo to start 11th and 13th, sandwiching AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly.

Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi will line up 14th followed by Aston Martin's Lance Stroll who failed to find any comfort in his car during the sole practice session prior to qualifying.

The bottom five carried a relatively predictable air, with AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda 0.026s away from a place in Q2 to Stroll.

The young Japanese driver will start 16th ahead of Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen, whose qualifying struggles continue as the 41-year-old has now been out-qualified eight times in 10 races this year by Giovinazzi.

Williams' Nicholas Latifi, beaten by Russell for the 27th consecutive race, starts 18th ahead of the now customary back row of Haas pair Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.

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