F1 – 70th Anniversary GP – Qualifying
Hello, MiniFans! We’re yet again in Silverstone for our back to back racing weekends and our celebration of the 70th season of our beloved Formula 1. There’s been a lot going on behind the scenes: announcement of appeals by a number of teams against Racing Point regarding the FIA decisions, Hulkenberg racing again due to Sergio Pérez testing positive, contract renovations and many more. But, let’s be honest here, as interesting as those may be in some circumstances, they will never trump the action on track. So, shall we begin?
Q1 wouldn’t be too nail biting. Some, as in both Hass and George Russell because they have nothing to lose, gave a try to the medium tyres, while the rest stuck to the red rimmed softs. Despite their bravery, they soon abandoned the idea and boxed for softs. The only huge surprise was Grosjean making it through to Q2, as we can’t really say that Russell managing the same is weird anymore. We did get an incident to be investigated after the session between Ocon, who was trying to avoid another car, and Russell, who complained about the Frenchman getting in his way. Track limits started to make an appearance and Kvyat was kicked out due to having his best lap erased, while his teammate shone with a stellar fifth place just behind Mercedes and Red Bull. The eliminated drivers in Q1 were Kvyat (P16), Magnussen (P17), Latifi (P18), Giovinazzi (P19) and Raikkonen (P20).
Q2 set itself up to be more entertaining, as tyre compounds are softer that last week’s, and the bet on mediums, which are considered the optimal tyre because softs get destroyed way too soon into the race, would be more crucial than ever. However, what was not expected was for everyone to use mediums and Verstappen to risk it with the hard tyre. It didn’t look weird to see Russell, with basically no chance of getting into Q3, with red compounds on, but it was disheartening to see Vettel needing to use them to try and make the cut. The last few minutes made everyone nervous, as both Sainz and Vettel, two mostly secured Q3 slots, failed to advance to the next qualifying session. Despite the hope that Ricciardo’s P3 in FP2 gave Renault, only the Aussie managed to snag a place to fight for the front rows of the grid, unlike his teammate. The eliminated drivers in Q2 were Ocon (P11), Vettel (P12), Sainz (P13), Grosjean (P14) and Russell (P15).
Mercedes kicked off the fight for pole almost in formation, being the first to leave the pits. Both Red Bulls and Ricciardo started the session off with yellow rimmed tyres, while everyone else, already free of the tyre choice for their fastest lap being the one they’d need to use for the start of the race, chose the softs from the beginning. Verstappen was clearly unhappy with the choice and asked to match the rest of the field, a wish easily granted by his team. Mercedes did the opposite and joined Ricciardo on the yellow tyre bandwagon for one last try at pole. The last run solidified some places but it also shook things up, the most exciting one being Bottas managing to steal pole position from his teammate, Lewis Hamilton. The biggest surprise, however, was Nico Hulkenberg getting third place in his second weekend with the Racing Point car, after being called in in a huge rush last week.
This qualifying session brought surprises to everyone involved. Ferrari disappointed yet again by getting just one car into Q3 and only managing a P8, Bottas snatched pole in Hamilton’s home soil, Ricciardo got a fifth place with medium tyres, Hulkenberg showed what we’ve been waiting to see all season, a Racing point in 3rd right behind Mercedes and McLaren didn’t quite find their pace for qualifying. The tyre choices made could be crucial for a race with high temperatures and softer compounds, while Hulkenberg placing so high might make it a risky start and beginning of the race. We can only wait and see what the race will bring.