Carlos Sainz claimed the first pole of his career at the British Grand Prix with a superb lap at Silverstone in extremely tricky wet conditions. The Ferrari driver beat Red Bull’s Max Verstappen into second with his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc in third. Sergio Pérez was fourth for Red Bull.
Mercedes’ hoped for resurgence is still to quite manifest itself, with their car certainly improved but still six-tenths back from pole, Lewis Hamilton in fifth and his teammate George Russell in eighth.
Heavy rain had begun just before qualifying began and intensified as the session continued but Sainz delivered a superlative run under the looming gray clouds at Silverstone in the first wet running all weekend. With the track still very wet but the rain abating to open the final shootout the drivers started by putting in repeated laps looking for the optimal conditions as the times came down.
Verstappen looked to have the early advantage pushing so hard on an early lap that he spun in the final sector, just holding the car on track but it looked to be a fine sighting run. He followed it with repeated quicker laps as he and Leclerc exchanged the lead in a thrilling fight. The Dutchman appeared to have the edge only for Sainz to time his best lap of the day to perfection, with a time of 1min 40.983sec. Verstappen roared in behind him giving it his all but could not match him and was seven-hundredths of a second back.
This first pole was a deserved result for the Spaniard who has promised much in the past and delivered some superb runs over a single lap but this season has struggled to master his car. It has been some time coming with this his 151st grand prix and he was understandably delighted at having finally broken his duck.
Remarkably it is Ferrari’s first pole for a decade at the British GP, their last being in the hands of Fernando Alonso in 2012.
A debut win for Sainz is well within his grasp on Sunday with his race execution having proved to be strong in the past when he is not trying to overdrive his car.
Verstappen took the championship lead in Spain and extended it further with wins in Baku and Canada, while Ferrari suffered from reliability problems. Leclerc now has a 46-point lead over Perez and is 49 points clear of Leclerc. Ferrari must consider how best to balance Sainz’s ambition for his first win with Leclerc’s clear need to claw back points on Verstappen. Sainz is 73 points off the lead and may well be expected to give way to his teammate should it make a difference.
Lando Norris was sixth for McLaren and Fernando Alonso seventh for Alpine. Williams’ Nicholas Latifi did very well to make Q3 for the first time in his career with a strong run in the wet and finished in 10th. Guanyu Zhou was in ninth for Alfa Romeo.
Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda were in the 11th and 13th for AlphaTauri. Valtteri Bottas was in 12th Alfa Romeo, Daniel Ricciardo in 14th for McLaren and Esteban Ocon in 15th for Alpine.
Both Aston Martins of Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll went out in the 18th and 20th. Alex Albon was in 16th for Williams and Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher finished in 17th and 19th.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism