Jul 9, 2016
Prior to qualifying for the British Grand Prix, teams had one final practice (FP3) to prepare for Sunday’s 52-lap race around the 5.891-kilometer (3.660-mile), 18-turn Silverstone Circuit. The 60-minute session on Saturday ran under cloudy skies with an occasional rain sprinkle. This meant Pirelli Cinturato Green intermediate tires were used at the start for teams’ installation laps.
After a little more than 20 minutes, the track dried out enough for slicks. Haas F1 Team drivers Esteban Gutiérrez and Romain Grosjean employed the same tire strategy – a stint on Pirelli P Zero White mediums and a final run on P Zero Yellow softs. It was on the soft tires where both drivers set their fastest laps – a 1:32.895 for Gutiérrez on his 10th lap and a 1:33.344 for Grosjean on his 11th lap to place them 11th and 13th fastest, respectively. Gutiérrez totaled 12 laps and Grosjean amassed 13 laps.
The name atop the timing sheet in FP3 was the same atop Friday’s two practice sessions – Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes driver made a clean sweep of the speed charts with a quick FP3 time of 1:30.904 while his teammate, Nico Rosberg, was just .063 of a second behind. At the other end of the racing spectrum was Marcus Ericsson, who crashed his Sauber exiting Stowe (turn 15), resulting in a 17-minute red flag stoppage.
Cloud cover and the threat of rain remained for qualifying, but it stayed dry, allowing Gutiérrez and Grosjean to start Q1 on Yellow softs. The softest of the three tire compounds brought by Pirelli to Silverstone helped Gutiérrez score the 10th-fastest time (1:32.237) and Grosjean the 12th-quickest time (1:32.283), advancing both drivers to Q2 for the fifth consecutive race weekend.
Increased windiness in Q2 proved a factor, as Grosjean and Gutiérrez felt that gusty conditions impacted their drives. After each made a run five minutes into the 15-minute session, neither was happy with the result. Flying laps just before the end of Q2 saw both drivers improve their times, with Grosjean netting the 13th-fastest lap (1:32.050) and Gutiérrez following right behind with the 14th-quickest lap (1:32.241). Yellow softs remained the tire of choice.
Also notable in Q2 was Hamilton’s lightning-quick pace. He broke his own track record, setting a fast time of 1:29.243, which was .364 of a second better than the record he originally set in 2013 during Q3.
It was inevitable then that Hamilton would score the pole for the British Grand Prix. He did, even though his Q3 time was slower than the new lap record he set Q2. Nonetheless, his pole-winning lap of 1:29.287 was .319 of a second better than nearest pursuer Rosberg, giving the Mercedes duo a front-row lockout. This was Hamilton’s 55th career pole, his sixth this season and second in a row. It was also his fourth pole at Silverstone and his second straight at the home of British motor racing. Hamilton, a native of Stevenage, England, is the three-time and defending winner of the British Grand Prix.
Romain Grosjean, Driver No. 8, Haas F1 Team
“I think the top-10 for us is sometimes a bit optimistic in qualifying. We’re always better in the race. In qualifying, we’re still missing a few things that we can improve, but it takes a bit of time. We had added a bit of front flap. It was maybe a bit too much. The conditions out there were also tricky today. The wind picked up a little bit at the end. It caused me a big snap into turn 15 (Stowe). The wind can really change the balance of the car here, depending on the direction. If we hadn’t had that, then we could’ve been closer to moving into Q3. Thirteenth for tomorrow is not the worst place to start the race. If our long-run pace is good, that should help us.”
Esteban Gutiérrez, Driver No. 21, Haas F1 Team
“Q1 was pretty good. I struggled a little in the beginning with the tires, but then things started to get underway. In Q2, I had traffic in the first stint, which wasn’t ideal. During the second stint, the wind picked up and it became a little gusty out there, which didn’t allow us to extract the maximum from the car. However, we were pushing all the way, getting everything out of it that we could. We’re optimistic. We’ve done a good job as a team, so I’m confident that tomorrow will be a great race.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team
“A good team effort, 13th and 14th. We are always very close to getting into Q3, and that’s certainly one of our aims over the next few qualifying sessions. We are making progress. The team worked very well and the drivers did a great job. We’re consistent in our performance, so I’m sure we’ll be up there soon enough. Overall, I’m happy with the result today. Tomorrow we’re going to go for points, and I think we’re in a strong position to get them.”