http://e2.365dm.com/16/07/16-9/20/hamilton-lewis-f1-mercedes_3740729.jpg?20160709141420Lewis Hamilton has claimed pole position for the British GP ahead of Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg.
But it was anything but straightforward for the home favourite despite Hamilton’s overwhelming pace advantage over Rosberg and that of the dominant Mercedes package over the distant pack.
Hamilton had to overcome Race Control wiping out his provisional pole time at the start of Q3 after the world champion transgressed the Silverstone track limits. But Hamilton immediately hit back to claim pole by almost four tenths from Rosberg.
Confusingly, Hamilton’s pole lap was allowed to stand despite the Mercedes driver once again crossing the track limits as he did so at a corner not being protected by Race Control’s ‘zero tolerance’ crackdown.
But on an otherwise bad day for the three Britons in the field, Renault’s Jolyon Palmer was eliminated at the first hurdle alongside surprise Q1 casualty Jenson Button.
In bizarre fashion, Button’s early exit - triggered by a rear-wing failure on his McLaren car - was only confirmed midway through Q2 after Race Control belatedly confirmed that Palmer’s Renault team-mate Kevin Magnussen had transgressed the track limits on his fastest lap.
“It is a shame they couldn’t do something before Q2 starts but as soon as Q2 starts it is game over for us which is a shame,” said Button. “It doesn’t seem very lucky this weekend for me.”
Max Verstappen will start third for Red Bull after out-qualifying team-mate Daniel Ricciardo for the first time as the former world champions surprisingly jumped Ferrari in the pecking order but remained over a second adrift of the dominant Silver Arrows.
“It was like they had a turbo button,” rued Verstappen.
The Dutchman’s final lap was also deleted by Race Control but his earlier effort was already sufficent to inflict Ricciardo’s first Saturday defeat of the season.
Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson missed the session after a heavy crash in Saturday morning practice resulted in the Swede being taken to hospital for what the team described as ‘routine’ check-ups. If Ericsson is passed fit for Sunday, Sauber will seek special dispensation from the stewards for permission for him to race.