Valtteri Bottas has edged Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to pole position for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone while Sebastian Vettel could only qualify 12th.
Only 0.063s separated the two W11s at the end of Qualifying 3, when Hamilton clocked a 1:25.217s on his latter flyer moments before Bottas snatched top spot with a 1:25.154s.
Daniel Ricciardo wound up fifth having been third when he followed the Mercedes across the line, only to then be shuffled back by two former team-mates in Racing Point substitute Nico Hulkenberg and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen.
Although the best of the rest, Hulkenberg was still 0.928s away from pole, and Verstappen over a second slower than the best time set by Bottas in the #77 Mercedes.
Hamilton’s first run effort of 1:25.284s was 0.116s faster than Bottas’, while Ricciardo was 1.013s off the pace, albeit on medium compound tyres compared to the softs on the two Mercedes.
Hulkenberg was fourth at that point and Verstappen fifth, the latter having also been on mediums.
Hamilton and Bottas swapped to mediums for their second runs, and Verstappen to softs, while Ricciardo stayed on mediums.
Hamilton was slower than his personal best to the first sector but the lap came to him and he eked out another 0.067s all told.
It would not be enough when Bottas broke the beam having improved by 0.246s, while Ricciardo’s 1:26.301s was four thousandths slower than his previous flyer in the #3 Renault F1 Team entry.
Hulkenberg, who split the Mercedes in Qualifying 2, then laid down a 1:26.082s with the chequered flag out, before Verstappen clocked a 1:26.176s.
The latter is also something of a strategic wildcard for Sunday afternoon’s 52-lap race given he made Q3 on hard tyres, whereas the rest who did so set their fastest Q2 lap on the mediums.
Lance Stroll was sixth in his Racing Point entry, 0.346s slower than his temporary team-mate Hulkenberg, with Pierre Gasly seventh in his AlphaTauri.
Charles Leclerc missed pole by 1.460s and is set to start from eighth in his Ferrari, with Alexander Albon (Red Bull) and Lando Norris (McLaren) rounding out the top 10.
Esteban Ocon (Renault) was the last man bumped out of the top 10 at the conclusion of Q2, and is also under investigation for allegedly impeding George Russell (Williams) in Qualifying 1.
If the Frenchman keeps 11th position on the grid, he will share Row 6 with Vettel, who only improved two positions at the end of the second period even with a switch to soft tyres on Car #5.
The outgoing Ferrari driver even looked a chance of getting stuck in Q1 before lifting himself from 15th to 11th with the chequered flag out in that session.
Carlos Sainz (McLaren), Romain Grosjean (Haas), and Russell currently occupied 13th through 15th, respectively, on the starting grid.
Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri) was first on the outside in Q1 after Ocon lifted himself from 16th to eighth right at the end of the stanza.
Kevin Magnussen (Haas) and Nicholas Latifi (Williams) share Row 9 while the rear of the grid is set to be brought up by the Alfa Romeos of Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen, respectively.
The fifth race of the Formula 1 season is scheduled for a start on Sunday at 23:10 AEST.
|3||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||1:27.279||1:26.261||1:26.082|
|4||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:27.154||1:26.779||1:26.176|
|6||18||Lance Stroll||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||1:27.187||1:26.674||1:26.428|
|7||10||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri Honda||1:27.154||1:26.523||1:26.534|
|9||23||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:27.153||1:26.642||1:26.669|
|10||4||Lando Norris||McLaren Renault||1:27.217||1:26.885||1:26.778|
|13||55||Carlos Sainz||McLaren Renault||1:27.450||1:27.083|
|14||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||1:27.519||1:27.254|
|15||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:27.757||1:27.455|
|16||26||Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri Honda||1:27.882|
|17||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:28.236|
|18||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:28.430|
|19||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:28.433|
|20||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:28.493|