Sainz takes F1 British GP pole in wet qualifying

Carlos Sainz

Carlos Sainz has secured the first pole position of his Formula 1 career in a wet qualifying session for the British Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver snatched top spot as the chequered flag waved, usurping Max Verstappen after the Red Bull driver looked  most likely to claim pole.

However, hampered by a yellow flag for Charles Leclerc, he was unable to improve on his final effort and was beaten by Sainz.

Leclerc snagged third ahead of Sergio Perez while Daniel Ricciardo found himself side-lined after Qualifying 2 and will start 14th.

Constantly changing weather dominated the session and made being out at the right time, and having confidence in the car critical.

The skies opened in the minutes prior to qualifying beginning, with conditions predicted to only worsen.

It prompted a queue at the end of pit lane as teams looked to bank a lap in what was expected to be the best of the running.

Leclerc was the fastest as the initial laps were completed, the Ferrari driver logging a 1:47.521s, ahead of Alex Albon with a 1:49.914s.

A spin for Valtteri Bottas at the Vale chicane hampered his early efforts, triggering a yellow flag which was cleared as he got going once again.

Times tumbled quickly, Leclerc improving to 1:43.028s on his second lap, only for Verstappen to log a 1:42.814s.

Alpine opted to run out of sequence, waiting a couple of minutes before sending Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso out on track.

At McLaren, the information to its drivers was conditions were set to improve, with Norris told with eight minutes remaining in Qualifying 1 that the rain had stopped and wasn’t expected to return.

The focus for many was simply on progressing beyond the opening phase of the session, the improving track meaning the bar teams were aiming at was ever changing, forcing them to circulate and wear out their intermediate rubber.

Ricciardo found himself 19th inside the final three minutes, the Australian going on to bank a 1:3.001 to climb to 13th.

It left him dangerously close to the drop zone, though with enough time for one more flying lap.

He needed it as others improved to push him into the elimination zone before he mustered a 1:41.933s to climb back to 13th as the chequered flag fell.

Knocked out where Lance Stroll, Mick Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel, Kevin Magnussen, and Albon; Ricciardo sneaking through in 14th.

The rain returned as Qualifying 2 began, tempting everyone out soon after the session commenced.

Times were slower than they were earlier previously, Verstappen logging a 1:41.486s, 2.3s slower than he’d managed in the previous segment.

Lando Norris found himself second when he clocked a 1:41.821s, though was quickly shuffled down as others improved, namely Lewis Hamilton, Leclerc, and George Russell.

Ricciardo was again outside of the top 10, though so too was Sainz midway through the 15-minute outing, though he soon climbed to fourth with 1:41.602s as Verstappen lowered the bar to 1:40.655s.

Conditions promptly deteriorated once again, the rain increasing its intensity.

Pierre Gasly, Bottas, Yuki Tsunoda, Ricciardo, and Ocon were all sitting outside the top 10 as that happened, leaving the quintet staring down the barrel of an early exit.

There were a number of personal best microsectors, but in reality, it had become too wet and it was an exercise in futility for those hoping for a better lap.

The five who found themselves at risk were therefore eliminated, their order unchanged.

Making the grade however was Latifi, who progressed to Qualifying 3 for only the second time in his career in 10th place.

Conditions had eased once more as Qualifying 3 began, with all 10 of the remaining runners heading out almost immediately.

Intermediates were still the tyre of choice, though the dry line that had appeared at points earlier in the session had disappeared, at least in parts.

Sainz was the first to set a time, a 1:51.022s demonstrating just how treacherous conditions had become in the final moments of Qualifying 2.

Verstappen served only to offer another example when he spun exiting Stowe on his first flying lap.

Moments later, Guanyu Zhou moved into provisional pole with a 1:49.454s, only to be swiftly demoted by Alonso’s 1:46.227s.

That stood until Leclerc completed his lap, with a 1:44.844s, Verstappen recording a 1:44.887s with his first lap despite having an off at the Vale chicane.

Without a mistake on his next lap, the Red Bull driver went fastest with a 1:42.996s.

Norris moved into second with a 1:44.319s, though he was quickly pushed down as both Hamilton and Russell improved, Verstappen holding on to top spot.

The top of the order shuffled around inside the final minute, Sainz and Leclerc both holding top spot for a brief moment before Verstappen completed another lap.

As the chequered flag fell, Sainz moved into provisional pole position, while Leclerc had a spin to end his chances.

Verstappen was unable to improve on his final lap to remain second, sandwiched by the Ferraris.

Perez was fourth, Hamilton slipping to fifth from Norris, Alonso, Russell, Zhou, and Latifi.

Sunday’s British Grand Prix gets underway at midnight AEST.

Results: Formula 1 British Grand Prix, Qualifying

Pos Num Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 55 Carlos Sainz Scuderia Ferrari 1:40.190 1:41.602 1:40.983
2 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:39.129 1:40.655 1:41.055
3 16 Charles Leclerc Scuderia Ferrari 1:39.846 1:41.247 1:41.298
4 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing 1:40.521 1:42.513 1:41.616
5 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG F1 Team 1:40.428 1:41.062 1:41.995
6 4 Lando Norris McLaren F1 Team 1:41.515 1:41.821 1:42.084
7 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine F1 Team 1:41.598 1:42.209 1:42.116
8 63 George Russell Mercedes-AMG F1 Team 1:40.028 1:41.725 1:42.161
9 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo F1 Team 1:40.791 1:42.640 1:42.719
10 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Racing 1:41.998 1:43.273 2:03.095
11 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:41.680 1:43.702
12 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo F1 Team 1:41.396 1:44.232
13 22 Yuki Tsunoda Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:41.893 1:44.311
14 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren F1 Team 1:41.933 1:44.355
15 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine F1 Team 1:41.730 1:45.190
16 23 Alex Albon Williams Racing 1:42.078
17 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team 1:42.159
18 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin F1 Team 1:42.666
19 47 Mick Schumacher Haas F1 Team 1:42.708
20 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin F1 Team 1:43.430

Join the discussion below in the Speedcafe.com comments section

Please note: Speedcafe.com reserves the right to remove any comment that does not follow the comment policy. For support, contact [email protected]