F1 – 2020 British GP – Qualifying
Hello, MiniFans! We’re back from our weeklong vacation from F1 after out first triple header and we’re back with a bang. The first driver to test positive, Sergio Pérez, needed a substitute that was none other than fan favourite Nico Hulkenberg, who has only been gone for three race weekends. It would almost open up one of the coveted places that’s usually filled by Racing Point, due to the lack of testing and it being a car the German driver has never driven before.
Q1 kicked off as it usually does. The cars expected to be the ones getting cut off and Hulkenberg, to whom a little more practice wouldn’t hurt, came out first. It wouldn’t take long for the rest to follow in their footsteps. All eyes were on the “newcomer” and Albon, whose weekend so far hadn’t been too good. A train of cars getting ready for their laps formed halfway through the session, despite the circuit being one of the longest in the calendar. A quickly waved yellow flag caused by Latifi made hearts stop with a couple seconds to the chequered flag, but the track was quickly deemed clear and nothing else came of it as drivers were able to finish their last timed lap. The welcome surprise was Russell who, in his home GP, managed to get through to Q2 once again in his Williams, while his teammate spun and ended dead last. However, the dark gloom of an investigation for speeding under yellow flags gloomed over the Brit. The eliminated drivers in Q1 were Magnussen (P16), Giovinazzi (P17), Raikkonen (P18), Grosjean (P19) and Latifi (P20).
Q2 started with confusion, as Ferrari allowed Leclerc to go out with medium tyres, just as Mercedes, Red Bull and Racing Point did. Vettel, however, was a little bit more conservative and went out with softs. Almost halfway through, a red flag caused by Hamilton spinning and kicking gravel into the track halted the session, leaving three cars with no time whatsoever. It was the current World Champion who got out first after the track was reopened and stayed out on his own for a couple laps with his medium tyres, yet still pitting for softs in order to prepare himself for Q3. In a surprise and very risky move, Vettel chose mediums for his last stint, despite being 8th and needing to put in a good lap to ensure his passing to Q3. He managed to go through, unlike Albon, whose terrible weekend carried on to qualifying, and Gasly, whose best time was tied with Stroll, who was in 10th. The eliminated drivers in Q2 were Gasly (P11), Albon (P12), Hulkenberg (P13), Kvyat (P14) and Russell (P15)
No one was too surprised to see both Mercedes locking out the front row from beginning to end of Q3. The only question that remained was whether Hamilton would start first or Bottas would be able to replicate last year’s achievement. As per usual, the first run only slightly settled what the locked positions would end up like, but change was imminent. The last couple minutes were hectic, with some drivers making mistakes and others winging their laps without batting an eye. Verstappen showed he’s somehow the only one who can tame his Red Bull and grasped a third spot that seemed to be reserved for a pink car and the similar times achieved by the midfielders seem to foretell a fun race in that sector.
A stellar lap by Hamilton got him his seventh pole position in his home GP, the front row was occupied by its long term German tenants, Verstappen, even if one second slower than them, was the only one who could dream of getting close to the now black arrows, Leclerc and his magic hands got ahold of an unexpected fourth place, while Vettel ended 10th, both McLarens managed two great laps and made a sandwich with Stroll in between them and the Renaults right after them. We’ll have to wait and see whether Mercedes will, yet again, populate the podium after the race.