A masterful lap in a rain-soaked British Grand Prix qualifying saw Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz claim his first pole position in Formula One as he defeated Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, who had led much of the session.
Rain had started on Silverstone just minutes before qualifying began and Verstappen comfortably led both Q1 and Q2. Verstappen then led Q3 in the final moments as Sainz unleashed his final lap to stop the clocks at 1m40.983s and take P1 in an effort he incredulously described as ‘terrible’. On the weekend of his 150th Grand Prix start, however, terrible did very well.
Sainz was 0.072s ahead of Verstappen, Leclerc in P3, 0.315s behind his teammate – both Leclerc and Verstappen had spun on promising laps in Q3.
Sergio Perez was P4 in the second Red Bull, ahead of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, with Lando Norris P6, while Fernando Alonso and George Russell completed the top eight. Zhou Guanyu was P9 while Nicholas Latifi on his first-ever Q3 appearance survived a scary slip at Turn 1 to finish P10.
Red Bull race
Red Bull race
Pierre Gasly was P11 for AlphaTauri, ahead of the second Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas and Gasly’s own teammate Yuki Tsunoda, while Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon struggled in Q2 with the deteriorating conditions and failed to finish P14 and P15.
Alex Albon, meanwhile, failed to make it out of Q1 – despite being fitted with Williams’ extensive upgrade package, which Latifi did not have – while both Haas and Aston Martins also got the order for Kevin Magnussen in P17 in front of Sebastian Vettel in segment one, Mick Schumacher and Lance Stroll.
So Sainz finally has the very first pole position. But can that first win come on Sunday, at a track he loves at Silverstone? Tune in to find out.
Qualifying Highlights: British Grand Prix
WHEN IT HAPPENED
Q1 – Both Haas and Aston Martin are out as rain soaks the Silverstone track
With just 10 minutes to go in qualifying, a swathe of British rain clouds swept over the Silverstone circuit, causing all teams to crash onto the Intermediate tires – and a heavy traffic jam at the green light as the drivers attempted a banker lap to get on the board in case the rain got heavier.
Coincidentally, the rain actually eased throughout the opening segment, a drier line appearing around the legendary 3.6-mile route as Verstappen set the early benchmark of 1’40.452 and improved a tour later to 1’39.975, 0.655 seconds Lead Leclerc.
The question now was, would the track improve enough for the teams to fit slicks? But eventually the track improved, but not enough for slick tyres.
After the clock ticked down to zero in the 18-minute qualifying opener, Leclerc beat back Verstappen to briefly secure first place, only for a great lap in an all purple sector by Verstappen, in which he clocked a 1m39.129s and 0.717s advantage scored on the Monegasque as George Russell finished 0.899s back in P3 ahead of Sainz, Hamilton and Perez.
Bottom of the order saw Daniel Ricciardo at risk of an embarrassing Q1 exit at the scene of his F1 debut 11 years ago before a final try saw him finish 14th. Over at Williams, Nicholas Latifi, despite not having his teammate’s significant upgrades, reached Q2 for the first time this season in P15, while Alex Albon was P16 by 0.080 and bemoaned Williams’ strategy as being cool. Do laps instead of continuing to cycle hard.
The weather, meanwhile, mirrored sentiment at Haas and Aston Martin as the two teams lost both cars in Q1, with Vettel expressing his somber frustration with a series of steering wheel slams.
Eliminated: Albon, Magnussen, Vettel, Schumacher, Stroll
Q2 – Latifi makes his debut in Q3 at the expense of Ocon and Ricciardo
Everyone was now trying to get an idea of how the weather would develop for the remainder of qualifying – while the airwaves were buzzing with engineers offering differing meteorological opinions…
As it turned out, the rain would steadily increase in Q2, meaning those riders who got a good lap on the board early would have a distinct advantage. Verstappen led again with a lap of 1m40.655s, about a second and a half slower than in Q1, with Hamilton – someone who knows a thing or two about lapping Silverstone in the wet – in P2, 0.407’s out.
With the checkered flag for Q2, the timesheets were a sea of yellow, with none of the riders in the last five elimination zones improving on their latest efforts. With that, Esteban Ocon found himself in P15, one place behind Ricciardo’s McLaren. Both AlphaTauris were also eliminated – although given their pace issues this weekend, 11th for Gasly and 13th for Tsunoda might not be such a bad thing – with Bottas in 12th.
Nicholas Latifi was one of the drivers who put in a solid early lap – and it was good enough to propel the pressured Williams driver into Q3 for the first time in his career as he finished just behind Zhou Guanyu P10, the Chinese driver putting in his impressive run as the only Alfa in the top 10.
So it was both Red Bulls, both Ferraris and both Mercedes in Q3, along with McLaren’s Norris, Alpine’s Alonso and the aforementioned Zhou and Latifi.
Eliminated: Gasly, Bottas, Tsunoda, Ricciardo, Ocon
Q3 – Sainz secures first pole position while Verstappen and Leclerc spin
The Inters stayed tires du jour for Q3, while rumors of another rain shower rang out over team radio as the drivers headed onto the slick Silverstone track. Once again, it seemed, a round of bankers was needed.
Verstappen looked like he was going to set one as he spun wildly coming out of Stowe and his RB18 performed a neat pirouette. Was he worried? No, as he then posted two purple sectors en route to P2 before improving on his second attempt to set 1m42.966s. “Expect more rain, keep pushing,” Verstappen was told, and the Dutchman duly kept his foot in and continued to lap.
Two minutes before the end it was Verstappen from Hamilton and Leclerc, these three wanted to fight for qualifying wins. But then out of nowhere came Sainz, who had flown under the radar since his lead in FP2 on Friday afternoon. And with time running out in a flash, Sainz took the checkered flag with a lap good enough for provisional pole.
Verstappen and Leclerc were quick to follow – but then Leclerc spun at Turn 14, yellow flags forced Verstappen to take off and handed pole position to Sainz.
Upon learning of his triumph, the Spaniard replied in disbelief: “I was terrible out there! How did I get P1?!”
“You held it together like a smooth operator!” his engineer replied, laughing.
British GP qualifier 2022: Carlos Sainz clinches sensational first pole at Silverstone
Show ecstatic scenes in the Ferrari garage as the Scuderia celebrated their popular Spanish attack. Verstappen was content enough to settle for P2, the formman throughout qualifying missing just 0.072s as Leclerc edged Perez into third.
Hamilton had looked like he was threatening a front row start but was ultimately “eviscerated” when he finished fifth behind team-mate Russell’s eighth on a day when Mercedes had admitted he was a little disappointing – given their upgrade suite for the W13.
Between the Silver Arrows lay a “very satisfied” Lando Norris and Fernando Alonso. Zhou Guanyu finished a decent ninth, while a big turn 1 spin by Latifi in Q3, which the Canadian luckily escaped unscathed, ultimately saw him finish 10th.
“First of all thank you to the entire crowd for cheering and thank you to everyone for staying out there in this rain. Spaniards, we’re struggling a little more with this rain, but you can tell you’re used to it. Thanks for being there, it was a good lap but I struggled with the standing water – there was a lot more standing water on the racing line on the intermediates. It was very easy to get snaps.
“I ended up putting together a round that I didn’t think was anything special, but just put it on the board and see how it is. Pole position, it came as a bit of a surprise… If I’m leaning on my FP2 pace we should be in a good position to try to hold it. I’m sure Max and Charles will put a lot of pressure on, but of course I’ll do my best.” – Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
The British Grand Prix takes place on Sunday 3 July at 3pm local time. Lewis Hamilton goes in search of his ninth all-time win at an F1 venue – and his home win at that. Can he pull it off? Or will it be Carlos Sainz celebrating his first win? We can’t wait to find out.