Packed grandstands, great action and, more unusually, fantastic weather. That’s right, the F1 bandwagon rolled into Britain for the tenth round of the 2010 World Championship in glorious sunshine at a newly remodeled Silverstone. Always important, qualifying matters more at Silverstone than a lot of other tracks on the calendar, with positions on the front two rows of the grid giving you a definite shot at victory.
Here’s the quailfying as it happened:
ROUND 1: SUTIL AND BARRICHELLO IMPRESS, ALGUERSUARI OUT
A fairly slow start to the session in Q1. As expected, the two Red Bulls were quick, Vettel fastest and Webber second. Sutil looked quick in the Force India, as did Barrichello in the Williams, with both hoping to sneak into the top 10 shoot out later in the afternoon.
The will they / won’t they dance McLaren played with their car updates on Friday appeared to have affected their pace, with the team not looking able to challenge those at the sharp end, although getting through to Q2 easily enough.
At the wrong end of the grid, Kovalainen finished top of the new teams, with this week’s established driver to fall out, Alguersuari, having a heated discussion with his race engineer as the session drew to a close. You’re the one driving, Jaime…
For those wondering about the pace of F1’s new boy on the grid, Sakon Yakamoto, it really wasn’t pretty. If the 107% rule was applied after the first qualifying session, he wouldn’t be in the race tomorrow. Stone last and slow.
ROUND 2: RED BULLS LOOK OMINOUSLY QUICK, BUTTON OUT
A far more rough and tumble session with one big casualty. Button, chasing his first ever podium at Silverstone in F1, could only manage fourteenth place, behind Hulkenberg, Kobayashi and Sutil, who also went out. Not the way the World Champion would have chosen to celebrate his home grand prix, describing the car as “undriveable” and with a severe lack of rear grip.
At the other end of the standings, both Red Bulls looked imperious. Webber three tenths of a second in front of Vettel, with Alonso taking third spot, and pole is looking very much like a two horse race. Indeed, the top six cars in the session were all line astern: two Red Bulls followed by two Ferraris, followed by two Mercedes.
An honourable mention to Pedro de la Rosa, subject of much scorn earlier in the season, who crept into ninth place to take his first shot at the top 10 shoot out.
ROUND 3: VETTEL ON SONG AT SILVERSTONE
After the first runs, Vettel was slightly ahead of Webber, from Alonso, Hamilton, Rosberg, Barrichello and Massa. Schumacher, de la Rosa and Kubica chose to save a set of tyres and only do one run.
During the second runs, Webber couldn’t topple Vettel from the top of the timing sheet, Alonso was blocked by Barrichello (leading to the by now standard Fernando hand gesture) and Schumacher only managed to come home tenth.
Home fans would have had mixed emotions as Hamilton could only manage fourth in the McLaren. While almost a second off the Red Bulls’ pace, it’s probably the best for which he could have hoped, leading Martin Brundle to describe him as the “happiest man in the top 10”.
A session that could only have been derailed for Red Bull by the sort of silliness we saw during the race in Turkey, ended with Vettel improving on his time to romp home to pole. All in all, not a classic qualifying hour for Silverstone, although Vettel’s exclamation over the team radio in praise of Silverstone at the end is sure to warm the heart of those who fought so hard, and for so long, to keep the race at its traditional home.