Winners and losers from British Grand Prix qualifying

Finley Crebolder
Nigel Mansell poses with Carlos Sainz. Silverstone July 2022.

It was a Saturday full of surprises at Silverstone with plenty of teams and drivers not having the British Grand Prix qualifying session they would have expected. 

These, in our eyes, were the big winners and losers:

Winners

Carlos Sainz

At one point on Saturday, it looked like Sainz’s difficult start to the season would continue with him at risk of going out in Q2, but it ended up being one of his best days in F1.

Few people were talking about him heading into Q3, with Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc looking quickest and set to battle it out for pole. However, while he may not have had their outright pace, the Spaniard was steadier, not spinning as they did, and secured the first pole position of his career.

Staying ahead of Verstappen in the race will be a tall order, but he has given himself the best possible chance of claiming a first victory, as well as a much-needed confidence boost. Smooth Operator by name, Smooth Operator by nature.

Lando Norris

There was not too much for the home crowd to be happy about in qualifying, but Norris ensured they had something to celebrate.

The McLaren man has some pedigree in wet qualifying sessions, taking his first pole position at a soaking Sochi last year, and while he could not repeat those heroics he was immensely impressive again, taking P6 to finish top of the midfield pack.

He has finished in the top five at Silverstone twice in the last two years, and making it three from three is now a realistic goal for him.

Zhou Guanyu

Many felt Zhou did not deserve a place on the 2022 grid, but the Chinese rookie continues to prove his doubters wrong.

In tricky conditions, he looked as comfortable as anyone despite his lack of experience, making it into Q3 for the second race in a row and outqualifying his team-mate also for the second race in a row.

The Alfa Romeo man looks to be steadily getting better and better and, if he continues to develop like this, the team could have quite a driver on their hands.

Nicholas Latifi

Heading to Silverstone, Latifi had yet to make headlines for the right reasons in 2022, with most of the stories about him being about how he looks set to lose his seat, but he has ensured that will not be the case this weekend.

In the Williams car without the upgrades he was faultless in qualifying, making it out of Q1 while his team-mate Alex Albon failed to do so. Luck admittedly played a part in him then progressing to Q3, with the rain coming at the right time for the Canadian, but again he did not put a foot wrong.

While it seems likely he will be leaving the world of F1 sooner rather than later, performances like that are what could save his career.

Losers

George Russell

While they feel they have closed the gap to the front-runners in terms of race pace at Silverstone, Mercedes were less optimistic about qualifying – but even so, Russell would have been hoping for a much better Saturday.

Usually one of the best drivers on the grid in qualy, the Briton was second best to his team-mate Lewis Hamilton in Q2 and Q3. To make matters worse, Norris and Fernando Alonso were also faster than him.

Racing on home turf in a quick car for the first time, he would have been dreaming of standing on the podium in front of his many fans, but that dream looks somewhat distant now with him starting down in P8.

Esteban Ocon

Ocon has generally performed well against his team-mate Fernando Alonso in qualifying this year, but was unable to do so this time around after being hit by some misfortune.

The Frenchman was not far off the other Alpine in Q1 as both comfortably made it through to the next session. However, he was then hit by a power-unit issue and was unable to set a competitive time in Q2.

As a result, he will start the race down in P15 and has it all to do on race day. With Alonso up in P7, he will be wondering what could have been if luck had been on his side.

Daniel Ricciardo

After a positive last two rounds in which he looked every bit as good as his team-mate Norris, Ricciardo was outclassed by the Briton again on his birthday weekend.

The Australian was some way off Norris in FP2 and FP3 and that continued in qualifying. He only just made it out of Q1 and did not get close to going any further, while the other McLaren secured a top-six start.

With him turning 33, talk of him being past his best will only grow with performances like that, as is the likelihood of his team replacing him.

Aston Martin 

Wet conditions caught out Aston Martin in qualifying last time out in Canada and history repeated itself at their home grand prix.

On a dry track in FP2 and FP3, they did not look rapid but good enough to make it out of Q1 at least, with Sebastian Vettel finishing both sessions in P12. When the rain started to fall though, so did they with Vettel finishing qualifying in P18 and Lance Stroll rock bottom.

After a difficult start to the year, they would have been hoping major upgrades they brought would have given them a happy home race, but an inability to deal with changing conditions has made that extremely unlikely.

Haas

After a dream start to the season, Haas have struggled in more recent times and that downward trajectory continued on Saturday at Silverstone.

Like Aston Martin, they failed to make it out of Q1 and never really looked like having the pace to do so all weekend, ending FP2 and FP3 with a driver in the bottom two.

Such a small team need to pick up points before rivals with more resources at their disposal develop their cars, but Guenther Steiner and co are not doing that.