Silverstone : Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for the British Grand Prix for the fifth time in his Formula 1 career in qualifying at Silverstone.
The Mercedes driver took the top spot early in the 12-minute Q3 session that decides the top 10 on the grid with a lap of 1m27.231s using the supersoft Pirellis that proved the tyre of choice for all.
That put him two tenths ahead of world championship rival Sebastian Vettel, and on his second run Hamilton delivered a mighty lap of 1m26.600s to make sure of taking his 67th pole position in F1 – now just one behind Michael Schumacher’s record.
Hamilton was investigated for a potential impeding incident at the end of his first run in Q3 when Haas driver Romain Grosjean complained of being held up by him at Club Corner. But stewards decided to take no action, so he keeps his pole.
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen jumped from fourth to second on his final lap, ending up 0.547s slower than Hamilton.
Vettel struggled on the first two sectors of his final lap, meaning he ended up third and two tenths off his teammate.
Valtteri Bottas was fourth fastest, with a lock-up at Turn 3 among the places he lost time on his second run, but has to serve a five-place penalty for a gearbox change.
Max Verstappen was fifth fastest, with Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg sixth to earn his best starting position of the 2017 season.
Force India pairing Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon were seventh and eighth, with Stoffel Vandoorne ninth on his first proper appearance in Q3 – having nominally made the final segment in Monaco.
Grosjean was 10th and slowest in Q3 after first losing three tenths behind Hamilton on his first run, then only making a small improvement on his second.
Renault’s Jolyon Palmer missed out on making Q3 by less than a tenth of a second, setting the 11th fastest time ahead of Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat.
Fernando Alonso proved unable to join McLaren teammate Vandoorne in Q3, with his final flyer half-a-second off the Belgian and only good enough for 13th.
Alonso will start at the back thanks to a 30-place grid penalty for new power unit components being introduced.
Carlos Sainz was 14th fastest ahead of the Williams of Felipe Massa.
Williams driver Lance Stroll was fastest of those to be eliminated in Q1, as he was consigned to the drop-zone by a last-gasp effort by Alonso to jump from last to first.
It started to rain 12 minutes before the session, leading to a flurry of drivers going out at the start of Q1 using a mix of intermediate and slick rubber before it emerged it was too damp for the latter.
Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, who was fastest early on using intermediates, then stopped at Luffield reporting a loss of power, leading to the session being red-flagged for five minutes.
The session got going again with 10 minutes remaining, with Alonso running on intermediates but opting to pit with just enough time to bolt on supersofts and complete his out-lap before the chequered flag.
He managed to do that, starting his lap moments before the chequered flag, which allowed him to take the top spot by 1.3s and relegate Stroll. Alonso was one of only two drivers, alongside Ocon, to use slicks in Q1.
Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was 17th ahead of Sauber duo Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson.
Ricciardo was quickly shuffled down the timing screens, ending up 20th slowest, but is currently due to start one place higher despite his five-place grid penalty for changing a gearbox because of Alonso’s drop.