Mercedes was a class above the other teams in Qualifying but it was Lewis Hamilton who claimed pole a Silverstone beating Rosberg by 0.319 seconds.
The Englishman – wildly cheered on by his fellow countrymen in the stands – had only one chance to deliver a fast lap in Q3 after his earlier effort was disqualified for exceeding the track limits. But Hamilton kept his composure and is now in a commanding position for the race.
Total dominance in qualifying
Both Mercedes cars looked to be in a field of their own and eased through the early stages of qualifying.
Q3 did prove to be more difficult for Hamilton but it was entirely of his own making.
The stewards had informed all drivers earlier in the day that they would disqualify lap times if cars exceeded the track limits.
That rule was enforced rigorously but with no consistency.
While several drivers had their times disqualified it appeared that Hamilton went beyond the track to set his fastest lap in Q2 but wasn’t penalised.
In Q3, Hamilton’s first fast lap was disqualified after he hit the kerb and got pushed over the white track lines.
With Rosberg then sitting on top of the qualifying board, Hamilton only had one opportunity to lay down the fastest lap and he did it in comfort – although replays show that the Englishman again exceeded the track limits but didn’t get punished.
The boisterous crowd could be heard cheering Hamilton at every turn, with Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda saying “Lewis in Silverstone with the crowd behind him, it gives him an extra one tenth.”
For Hamilton, the strong finish was a relief.
“It was not the cleanest qualifying session.”
“We had really good pace in Q1, ran wide in Q3 then had good pace on the penultimate lap, but I touched the kerb and it pulled me further, the car bottomed and just bounced outside.”
“I was sitting in the garage and knew I couldn’t let the guys down and I’m grateful I got the final lap in.”
Miserable day for Ferrari
Ferrari, in contrast, are having an awful weekend.
Raikkonen re-signed with Ferrari for 2017 on Thursday but today the Finn could only manage fifth place amid a series of errors.
Vettel was also disappointing during qualifying ending in sixth. But a gearbox change – forced about by a failure in the final seconds of FP3 – means that he will start from eleventh.
“If we knew the problem with the gearbox we would turn it off,” said Vettel.
“We had an issue yesterday and an issue this morning. It’s not good. We have to try and understand what has changed.”
Can Red Bull challenge?
Both Red Bull cars will be sitting behind Mercedes on the grid in an unexpectedly strong result.
Verstappen qualified in third which is his highest ever starting position, and out-qualified Ricciardo for the first time this season.
Despite being a full second off Hamilton in Q3, the Red Bull’s seem to be the best of the rest.
Red Bull Team Principal, Christian Horner, said after Qualifying, “We knew we were in good shape so for both cars to be on the second row is good and hopefully we can give Ferrari a hard time tomorrow.”
The race will start at 13:00 local time and will run over 52 laps.