Red Bull continued their qualifying domination as they took Pole position and a 1-2 in the British Grand Prix’s Saturday Qualifying. Sebastian Vettel will start on Pole Position ahead of his teammate Mark Webber. Fernando Alonso will start from P3 as he matched Ferrari’s best qualifying position. This is Red Bull’s 9th pole out of 10 races and their fifth one-two of the season. Incidentally, Webber was the first driver to break the 1 Min 30s barrier but was immediately eclipsed by Vettel as he wheeled round his Red Bull in 1:29.695 and then scored a 1:29.615 on his second run to grab pole position.
Lewis Hamilton managed P4 in an underperforming McLaren, which was shorn of its new diffuser and other updates after they didn’t bring the needed advantage. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg will start on P5 with Renault’s Robert Kubica in P6. Felipe Massa will start P7 with the Williams of Rubens Barrichello beside him on P8. BMW Sauber’s Pedro de la Rosa and Michael Schumacher complete the top ten.
The British Grand Prix is back at Silverstone after it was thought to be going to the Donnington Park circuit but after the latter failed to secure the necessary funding & the Silverstone owners made some modifications to the circuit, it is now back for the next 17 years. And with two British drivers in the team, McLaren’s home race will be all the more important. But they got off on the wrong foot as they had to ditch their plans of the ‘blown rear diffuser’ after it slowed them down considerably in the Friday and Saturday practices.
Q1 was dominated by the Red Bulls as initially Mark Webber and then Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheets with the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso and the Force India of Adrian Sutil following. Lewis Hamilton managed a fifth-fastest time with Jenson Button further down in eighth. Mercedes also had a tepid start to their weekend with Nico Rosberg tenth-fastest and Michael Schumacher fifteenth. The drivers failing to make it past Q1 were the Toro Rosso of Jaime Alguersuari, the Lotuses of Heikki Kovalainen, & Jarno Trulli, the Virgins of Timo Glock and Lucas Di Grassi & the HRTs of Karun Chandhok and Sakon Yamamoto.
Q2 started brightly for McLaren as Hamilton set a quick time but he steadily tumbled down the charts as others went quicker and steadied at seventh fastest. Button had complaints with the rear of the car and couldn’t make it out of Q2 as he could only manage the fourteenth fastest time. Mark Webber topped the timesheets ahead of Vettel with the Ferraris of Alonso and Massa right behind. Both the Force Indias failed to make it into the top ten for the first time this year, Sutil getting bumped down to 11th at the last possible second and Liuzzi in 15th. They’re joined by the BMW Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi, Williams of Nico Hulkenberg, Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Buemi and Renault’s Vitaly Petrov.
With the McLarens no longer a factor, it was upto Ferrari to take the challenge to Red Bull. But the Bulls were not to be cowed down and they continued their rampage in some style – both of them dipping under the 1 Min 30s barrier. Massa faded out after few initial quick runs and had to settle for P7 with Alonso seemed to be held up by traffic ahead of him in his run to P3. Mercedes tried a rather bizarre strategy of limiting Schumi to just the one run on super soft tyres but that didn’t pay any dividends as he ended up 10th. Hamilton managed to salvage a decent starting position from a wreck of a weekend, which could yet get better come tomorrow’s race.
The question on everyone’s minds is one: how to beat the Red Bulls. And as the commentators’ said, it is Red Bull’s race to lose and if they trip over each other as they did in Turkey, Alonso and Hamilton will be lurking right behind to take advantage. With Button down the grid in what still is a fast car & also the Force Indias down there, expect few daunting overtaking moves. My bet for the win is Vettel with Alonso sneaking into second ahead of Webber
First to crash out: Rubens Barrichello
Drive of the Race: Fernando Alonso
Fantabulous Overtaking: Jenson Button
Fadeout of the Race: Lewis Hamilton
Backend Performer: Kamui Kobayashi