Lewis Hamilton put in his best qualifying lap in a Mercedes as he claimed pole position at Silverstone ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg....
The 2008 World Champion produced a stunning final lap of 1:29.607s, which was more than four tenths better than Rosberg, to take his second pole of the season. World Champion Sebastian Vettel, secured third place while his team-mate Mark Webber was fourth. However Championship rivals Raikkonen and Alonso will only start in 9th and 10th respectively.
The wind that had been catching drivers out in FP3 had faded as the session started (something Ross Brawn would later admit was to Mercedes' advantage). The ambient temperature at Silverstone in sunny conditions was 18C - no chance of rain - and the track up at 32C.
Felipe Massa had been given a precautionary engine change after metal fragments were found in the oil of his F138 after final practice.
Nico Hulkenberg was out first to set the initial P1 time of 1:35.806. With sixteeen minutes to go, a relaxed Lewis Hamilton had time to stroll out of his garage and onto the pitwall and wave at the fans in the grandstand opposite.
Esteban Gutierrez moved P1 down to 1:33.697, Romain Grosjean reduced it to 1:32.586, Fernando Alonso re-set it at 1:32.266 before Grosjean reclaimed it with a 1:31.964.
Nico Rosberg then set the intra-Mclaren team battle going with a 1:31.355 which was immediately bettered by Lewis with a 1:30.995.
The Red Bulls were out very late in the session with Mark Webber taking P3 and Sebastian Vettel making himself safe in P4. With four minutes left in the session the danger zone was: 15.Bottas, 16.Massa, 17.Hulkenberg, 18.Pic, 19.Bianchi, 20.Chilton, 21.Button (no time), 22.Van der Garde (no time).
Jenson Button duly made himself safe with P7 and Hulkenberg jumped forward to P10. This now left Bottas in P17 and Massa in P18. As cars ahead of them improved, Felipe Massa found his team-mate dropping towards him, as Fernando Alonso fell to P14.
So when Massa finally put in a convincing lap he jumped up to P14 demoting Alonso down to P15 - though neither Williams driver or Gutierrez looked like threatening Alonso's time. Bottas escaped briefly into P16 demoting Maldonado to P17 and then Pastor returned the 'favour'.
So out went: 17.Bottas, 18.Gutierrez, 19.Pic, 20.Bianchi, 21.Van der Garde, 22.Chilton.
Bianchi was a massive 1.7 seconds faster that Chilton at Max's home grand prix while exiting in Q1 is becoming a familiar experience for Gutierrez.
Qualifying 2The two Mercedes cars had used medium tyres in the first session, unlike the rest of the top runners who had gone for the hard tyre. At the beginning of the next session they both went out on this used set to see if they could get away with using just one set of tyres in two sessions.
Mark Webber had a similar idea on his set of hard tyres and took the first P1 with a 1:31.341. Nico Rosberg edged in front of that with a 1:31.028 while Lewis Hamilton had to settle for P2 this time round.
There was an unusual intensity and focus on the two Toro Rosso drivers this weekend after Mark Webber had announced he would be retiring and Daniel Ricciardo looked to be winning the qualifying battle. After the first runs he was safely inside the top 10 while Jean-Eric Vergne was on the cusp.
With four minutes to go the danger positions were: 7.DiResta, 8.Grosjean, 9.Raikkonen, 10.Vergne, 11.Button, 12.Massa, 13.Maldonado, 14.Vettel (no time) 15.Perez (no time), 16.Hulkenberg (no time).
Perez had already run and come back in without setting a time, but Vettel was leaving it perilously late considering his team-mate had been out first. When he did get out on circuit he scorched round with a 1:30.990 and P1.
Romain Grosjean crept forward to P7, Vergne (now in P11) looked to be half a second up on his own time but ran wide in the Becketts sweeps, possibly put off by a slower car in his vision. He lost the best of that set of new tyres. Unlike team-mate Ricciardo who suddenly popped up in P3!
Raikkonen looked to be struggling in P10 and was pushed out by Jenson Button who put his best lap together by far to claim P10. In the dying seconds of the session Raikkonen jumped back up from P12 to P10 eliminating the McLaren driver. Massa could only stay P12 on his final run.
So out went: 11.Button, 12.Massa, 13.Vergne, 14.Perez, 15.Hulkenberg, 16.Maldonado.
Despite failing to make Q3, Button was happy with the handling of the car, though was forced into a slower outlap than he would have liked by the Force India in front. Vergne knows he could have done better whereas Massa had struggled all weekend to get to grips with the car - not helped by his early accident in FP2 on Friday.
Daniel Ricciardo came out on his used set of mediums to get a 'sighter' and set provisional pole at 1:31.579 - tellingly, that was still faster than Vergne in the previous session.
Mark Webber gave the Mercedes cars a more realistic target with a 1:30.508 in his final Silverstone F1 qualifying session. Nico Rosberg reduced that to 1:30.231 and then Lewis Hamilton gave the crowd something to cheer by taking the P1 slot with a 1:30.096.
So after the first runs it was: 1.Hamilton, 2.Rosberg, 3.Webber, 4.Vettel, 5.Grosjean, 6.Alonso, 7.Ricciardo - DiResta, Sutil and Raikkonen didn't set a time, but they all came out for the final four minutes.
Paul DiResta set an amazing P5 (within sight of the Force India factory), Kimi Raikkonen got ahead of Alonso with P6. Then Daniel Ricciardo jumped up to P6. Adrian Sutil took P7. Alonso managed P9 briefly before Romain Grosjean leapfrogged both the Ferrari and team-mate Raikkonen for P8.
At the front Nico Rosberg managed to get fractionally ahead of Lewis Hamilton before Hamilton set one of the most storming poles of his career, a P1 that was 0.45 quicker than the P2 position. Sebastian Vettel could only manage P3 ahead of Mark Webber, 0.6 back from Hamilton.
Yet again Mercedes had locked out the front row of the grid and although Red Bull had to make do with P3 and P4, their nearest championship rivals were a lot further down the grid. The 80,000 crowd roared their approval at a home boy on P1 - but were well aware that tomorrow it would be all down to the tyre degradation.
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:29.607s, 2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:30.059s + 0.452s
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:30.211s + 0.604s
4 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:30.220s + 0.613s
5 Paul di Resta Force India 1:30.736s + 1.129s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m30.757s + 1.150s
7 Adrian Sutil Force India 1m30.908s + 1.301s
8 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:30.955s + 1.348s
9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1:30.962s + 1.355s
10 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m30.979s + 1.372s
11 Jenson Button McLaren 1:31.649s + 0.659s
12 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:31.779s + 0.789s
13 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:31.785s + 0.795s
14 Sergio Perez McLaren 1m32.082s + 1.092s
15 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1:32.211s + 1.221s
16 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:32.359s + 1.369s
17 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:32.664s + 1.669s
18 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:32.666s + 1.671s
19 Charles Pic Caterham 1:33.866s + 2.871s
20 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:34.108s + 3.113s
21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:35.481s + 4.486s
22 Max Chilton Marussia 1:35.858s + 4.863s
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