Qualifying for the 2007 British Grand Prix began under scattered cloud, a track temperature of 41 degrees, air temperature of 23 degrees and wind gusting at up to 3.3 mps pushing cars down Hangar Straight. Silverstone, which hosted the first race of the first ever Official World Championship in 1950, was unusually busy on the Friday and grandstands were at capacity once again today as many British fans came to support Lewis Hamilton.
The Spykers of Adrian Sutil and Chistijan Albers were the first to take to the track. The Dutchman set the first time of the day, looking to impress after dragging a fuel hose down the pit lane during last weekend s French Grand Prix at Magny Cours, completing the lap in 1:23.160. Both drivers struggled with the wind pushing them wide through Stowe corner.
Next to set a time were the Renaults of Heikki Kovalainen and Giancarlo Fisichella, setting 1:21.297 and 1:21.054 respectively. With tyres so difficult to warm through the first half of the Silverstone circuit, the Italian went for a second lap, improving slightly with a 1:20.967.
Perhaps looking to impress, Hamilton went out early into the session, setting a time of 1:19.885 on hard tyres. The Ferraris, BMWs and remaining McLaren of Alonso all went out late into the session. Raikkonen set a time to go second behind Hamilton, only for Alonso to fly into top spot with a 1:19.330, albeit on soft compound tyres.
After a number of disappointing qualifying sessions this season, Alexander Wurz managed to set a time leaving him in eight. However his team-mate, Nico Rosberg, struggled throughout the session with an engine misfire, but still managed to set respectable times somewhere in the 1:21s.
With minutes to go, Anthony Davidson made an error during his first of two fastest laps. The Brit, looking to go well on home soil, abandoned his fastest lap through Bridge, and attempted to warm his tyres before starting another. Unfortunately he lost control of his Super Aguri and spun into the gravel at Luffield, bringing out the marshals and double waved yellow.
With drivers unable to improve during the final sector for risk of a penalty, many failed to qualify for the second session, including Davidson s team-mate Sato, the Honda of Jenson Button, who later complained of his engineer distracting him with track reports.
Driver knocked out:
This was another session dominated by McLaren and Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen setting the early pace on a 1:19.252. Hamilton running around in 1:19.400 before team-mate Alonso went fastest one-tenth ahead of the Finn. Massa completed the top four with a 1:19.421.
The BMWs of Kubica and Heidfeld set fifth and sixth positions, but with minutes to go felt safe enough not to have a second run. This however was almost a costly mistake, with Heidfeld left tenth by the end of the session, one place from demotion.
The Red Bull s of Webber and Coulthard with start from eleventh and twelfth for the race tomorrow.
Drivers Knocked Out:
The session started with Alonso hassling Hamilton from the word go! The Spaniard attempting pass the Brit on the pit lane and then Hangar straight on the first lap. Elsewhere Heidfeld showed Raikkonen his intentions, coming around the outside of the Finn through Luffield, but the Ferrari driver was having none of it and quickly shut the door on the German.
Fernando Alonso set the first fast lap on a 1:20.410, only for Ferrari s workhorse, Massa, to break the beam on a 1:20.482 to go second. Their two team-mates of Raikkonen and Hamilton followed up with P3 and P4 respectively.
After the second set of pit stops, Alonso improved his pole time to a 1:20.147, with Massa again following through to stay second on a 1:120.265. Elsewhere Raikkonen was setting purple sectors, only to run wide into the final corner, kicking up dirt. However the little off failed to squash his quarter of a second advantage, crossing the line with a 1:20.090 to go fastest.
McLaren had done an excellent job to service Hamilton s car in time for him to start another quick lap before the chequered flag. The Brit, who had looked all at sea for much of qualifying, was one-tenth down on Raikkonen by the end of the first sector, but with a clear track ahead of him he dropped the hammer, finishing sector two a whole tenth ahead of the Ferrari.
With the crowd holding their breathe he fought the car all through the final sector, crossing the line to scenes reminiscent of the Mansell era. Hamilton had become the first British driver to take pole at the British Grand Prix in eleven years, to the pleasure of his father and McLaren mechanics, who jumped up and down in the pit lane with excitement.
During the session, Alonso and Raikkonen shared the fastest speed through the speed trap, both reaching 298 kph.