Lewis Hamil­ton storms to record Bri­tish pole

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Lewis Hamil­ton stormed to a fifth pole po­si­tion for the Bri­tish Grand Prix with a dev­as­tat­ing lap in a tense and rain-af­fected qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion

Sil­ver­stone, UK - Lewis Hamil­ton stormed to a fifth pole po­si­tion for the Bri­tish Grand Prix with a dev­as­tat­ing lap in a tense and rain-af­fected qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion on Satur­day.

The three-time world cham­pion thrilled the home fans with a stun­ning lap of one minute 26.600 sec­onds in the clos­ing stages to out­strip his ri­vals by more than half a sec­ond with Kimi Raikko­nen of Fer­rari tak­ing sec­ond.

"You al­ways try to save the best till last," said Hamil­ton, who faced a stew­ards' in­quiry for al­legedly block­ing Ro­main Gros­jean. "I felt very com­fort­able in th­ese con­di­tions – they are the con­di­tions we grew up rac­ing in here in Eng­land."

Hamil­ton drew level with Jim Clark's 50 year old record of five Bri­tish poles and regis­tered the 67th of his ca­reer, one shy of the out­right record held by Michael Schu­macher. He said he was un­aware of block­ing any­one dur­ing the ses­sion. "I apol­o­gise if I did, but I had no idea if I had and the team didn’t say anything to me about a driver com­ing up be­hind," added Hamil­ton.

He will be seek­ing his fourth suc­ces­sive vic­tory at Sil­ver­stone and record-equalling fifth over­all in Sun­day’s race. He also be­came the first man to reel off three suc­ces­sive poles at the Bri­tish race since 1996 cham­pion Da­mon Hill.

"This is def­i­nitely the best po­si­tion to start from," said Hamil­ton. "But I need to do it to­mor­row for th­ese fans here. They are amaz­ing."

Cham­pi­onship leader Se­bas­tian Vet­tel was left frus­trated in third in the sec­ond Fer­rari ahead of Valt­teri Bot­tas in the sec­ond Mercedes, although the Finn faces a five-place grid penalty for an un­sched­uled gear­box change.

"It felt ok, but the con­di­tions were not easy, changing a lot," said Raikko­nen. "The car felt the best it had this week­end, but not quite fast enough for first place."

Vet­tel said, "The car came alive this morn­ing and that was re­ally good. It’s a shame there that in the last run in Q3 there was not more time!"

Max Ver­stap­pen was fifth for Red Bull ahead of Nico Hulken­berg of Re­nault, Ser­gio Perez and his Force In­dia team-mate Este­ban Ocon. Stof­fel Van­doorne took an en­cour­ag­ing ninth for McLaren ahead of Gros­jean of Haas.

The ses­sion be­gan in cool con­di­tions with rain in­ten­si­fy­ing.

Daniel Ric­cia­rdo clocked an early lap in 1m:42.966s to set the pace, but his luck soon ran out when he suf­fered a turbo fail­ure and parked on the Luffield exit road. This prompted a red flag for a five-minute de­lay to re­move his ve­hi­cle be­fore the ac­tion re­sumed, this set­back leav­ing him 20th and last be­fore a five­place penalty for an un­sched­uled gear­box change is ap­plied.

As the cir­cuit dried, the times tum­bled with wild move­ments of po­si­tions. Hamil­ton, Vet­tel and then Ver­stap­pen topped the lists be­fore Alonso, af­ter a late switch to slicks, clocked the best time for McLaren. It was thrilling for the crowd, and ap­pre­ci­ated, but af­ter his penal­ties he will start from the back of the grid.

Out with Ric­cia­rdo went rookie Lance Stroll, 16th for Wil­liams, Kevin Mag­nussen of Haas, Pas­cal Wehrlein and his Sauber team-mate Mar­cus Eric­s­son.

In Q2, Raikko­nen set the pace be­fore Hamil­ton, Hulken­berg and then Bot­tas trimmed the time con­sid­er­ably as the track dried.

(AFP)

Mercedes' Lewis Hamil­ton (cen­tre) cel­e­brates af­ter win­ning the pole po­si­tion as Fer­rari's Kimi Raikko­nen (left) and Se­bas­tian Vet­tel look on at Sil­ver­stone, UK on Satur­day

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