Hamilton clocked 1min 26.134sec in his Mercedes to beat Red Bull’s Verstappen, the championship leader, with Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes third fastest
World champion Lewis Hamilton edged out title rival Max Verstappen in British Grand Prix qualifying on Friday to take top spot on the grid for the sport’s first ever sprint race.
Hamilton clocked 1min 26.134sec in his Mercedes to beat Red Bull’s Verstappen, the championship leader, with Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes third fastest.
A crowd of around 90,000 was on hand to witness the first Friday night qualifying session in F1.
Saturday’s inaugural sprint qualifying race, the first of three this season, will be over 100km and will decide the starting positions for Sunday’s main event.
“We have been missing this for a whole year,” said Hamilton, addressing the fans.
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The seven-time world champion had arrived at his home race trailing Verstappen by 32 points in the title race.
Verstappen, who was just 0.075sec off the pace in qualifying, has won the last three races.
“Red Bull were very quick in the practice session but we were staying very focused on our job and trying to layer up,” added Hamilton.
“I was in the sim this morning using it as a practice session because it’s the first time we’ve ever had a morning free, just putting in the time and to give absolutely everything. Leave no stone unturned.
– ‘Weird feeling’ –
“That first lap was great. The second one was looking even better but just lost the back end in that last corner, so my heart was in my mouth as I crossed the line.
“But I could see the crowd and it was really reminiscent of my first pole here in 2007.”
Hamilton can celebrate an eighth win on home soil this weekend and 99th of his career.