Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes front row lock-out for British GP

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Lewis Hamilton was denied pole position for the British Grand Prix by just six thousandths of a second.

Valtteri Bottas will start from the front at Silverstone despite Hamilton’s last-gasp effort to usurp his Mercedes team-mate.

Mercedes locked out the front row for Sunday’s race with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc third ahead of Red Bull driver Max Verstappen. Pierre Gasly starts fifth with Sebastian Vettel a disappointing sixth.

Hamilton was bidding to secure his fifth consecutive pole at the Northamptonshire circuit, but the world champion made a critical error on his first run in the shootout for pole.

The Briton wobbled through Brooklands, temporarily losing control of his Mercedes, to leave him well behind Bottas ahead of the final runs.

Hamilton attempted to make amends for his error, but despite improving on his time it would prove no match for the Finn – Bottas ending Hamilton’s streak of four poles.

“It wasn’t good enough,” said Hamilton, 34, in front of a flat British crowd. “We worked hard but it got away from us.

“I had that mistake on the first lap and the second one wasn’t that great.

“Tomorrow is a long race, but we have got a great crowd here so hopefully I can do something.

“It is the best grand prix of the whole year. Without people like this to fill it up, and bring energy it would be nothing, so that is why we have got the best fans in England.”

Bottas added: “It feels good. It has been close all weekend with Lewis and it was great to get in a good lap and get pole.

“I knew that the first lap was good but it was not perfect. I should have improved in the second run. It is easy to make mistakes so I am happy to be on top.”

Leclerc ran the Mercedes drivers close, finishing one tenth shy of Bottas at an overcast and blustery Silverstone, but his Ferrari team-mate Vettel has struggled here.

The German, already 76 points behind Hamilton in the championship, was seven tenths off the pace.

British teenager Lando Norris will line up from eighth in his maiden home event following another encouraging weekend. His McLaren team-mate Carlos Sainz qualified 13th, three tenths off Norris.

George Russell meanwhile, retained his immaculate record against Robert Kubica, finishing half-a-second clear of his Williams team-mate, albeit 19th of the 20 runners.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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How Lewis Hamilton, Lando Norris and George Russell are performing ahead of British Grand Prix

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On of the eve of the British Grand Prix, we take a look at the performances of the English drivers so far this season.

LEWIS HAMILTON (Mercedes)

Results in 2019: 2-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-5

Head-to-head in 2019: Hamilton 6, Bottas 3

The five-time world champion has started the season in scintillating fashion, sealing victories in six of the first nine races as he goes in search of a sixth world championship that would move him within one of Michael Schumacher’s record haul.

The 34-year-old holds a commanding 31-point lead over Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, with the Silver Arrow dominating the new campaign with eight victories.

The Briton has out-qualified Bottas six to three and, aside from fifth place in Austria, has looked a class apart this season.

It’s hard to pick the stand out performance of the year – any of his six could be – but the French Grand Prix in itself was a masterclass of driving. Fastest during qualifying, Hamilton dominated the race from start to finish, managing his tyres and pace to perfection around Circuit Paul Ricard.

Gearing up for his favourite race of the year in Silverstone, Hamilton has set his sights on a record sixth British GP title. And based on his recent form, it’s hard to see anybody stopping him.

LANDO NORRIS (McLaren)

Results in 2019: 12-6-Ret-8-Ret-11-Ret-9-6

Head-to-head in 2019: Norris 3, Sainz 6

McLaren showed their confidence in Norris by announcing a three-year extension to his contract on the eve of the British Grand Prix.

The 19-year-old, in his rookie season, sits eighth in the drivers’ standings after clinching points in four of the nine races.

Norris has out-qualified his team-mate Sainz six to three so far this season and has shown maturity and supreme race-craft in an improving car.

The Bristol man has been composed after two retirements in Spain and Canada due to mechanical issues, and has not been fazed either when going to wheel to wheel with seasoned campaigners Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton in Austria.

His starring displays were two sixth-place finishes in Bahrain and Austria. The Bahrain result, in particular, catches the eye as Norris had a slow start but showed real determination to forge his way back to sixth, thanks in part to a late Renault double retirement.

Another step in the right direction as Norris and McLaren continue to cement their best of the rest status ahead of Haas and Racing Point.

GEORGE RUSSELL (Williams)

Results in 2019: 16-15-16-15-17-15-16-19-18

Head-to-head in 2019: Russell 9, Kubica 0

The Englishman may be sitting at the foot of the championship in 19th place, one place above team-mate Robert Kubica, but that doesn’t reflect his overall talents as a driver.

Racing in a woefully uncompetitive Williams car, Russell has left Kubica firmly in his shade this season, with a perfect 9-0 record in qualifying and races.

Although the Norfolk man has exited at Q1 each event, it is more to do with Williams’ shocking pace rather than his own driving abilities.

So poor is the Williams that the 21-year-old’s sole objective is to beat Kubica – a goal he has met with serious ease so far.

If Russell can continue his flawless record over the Pole, then there is a high chance of securing a seat at a more competitive outfit next season. A move that would really bring out his tenacity and finesse.

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Lewis Hamilton set ‘for the most incredible few days’ at British Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton is gearing up for his favourite weekend of the year as he sets his sights on a record sixth British Grand Prix victory.

Hamilton will move one triumph clear of Jim Clark and Alain Prost if he masters Formula One’s oldest race and wins for the sixth time in front of what is expected to be a record 140,000-strong crowd at Silverstone on Sunday.

The five-time world champion has started the year in impressive fashion, winning six of the opening nine rounds as he chases the championship that would move him to within one of Michael Schumacher’s record haul.

Indeed, the Briton holds a 31-point lead over team-mate Valtteri Bottas with Mercedes bossing the new campaign, although the team endured a rare off weekend last time out in Austria as their cars struggled in the extreme heat.

But with cooler temperatures forecast for this weekend, and Hamilton winning four of the last five grands prix staged at Silverstone, the 34-year-old will start as the favourite to take the chequered flag again.

“Having the support from your country and seeing it there, all concentrated into one weekend event, really makes for the most incredible few days that you get in the whole year,” said Hamilton, who has spent the build-up to his home race in Los Angeles.

“It is difficult to put a number on what you gain from the positivity. Everyone’s energy is priceless.

“I approach it the same as every other weekend, but I put more emphasis on the grand prix, knowing how important it is to everyone. I do come with more energy as it feels more important because there is so much great support.”

Hamilton has wiped the floor with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel over the past two-and-a-half seasons.

It is approaching a year since Vettel last won a race, and the German is already a staggering 76 points behind Hamilton in the championship.

Despite Ferrari’s impressive pre-season form, it was Max Verstappen who delivered the first non-Mercedes victory of the campaign with a remarkable comeback drive at the Red Bull Ring.

The 21-year-old has arguably been the leading performer this season, with his win in Austria moving him above Vettel in the championship.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes the Dutchman is a better driver than Hamilton.

“As the driver in the form of his life, arguably over the past 12 months, Max has been the best in the world,” said Horner.

“How do I substantiate that? He’s not in the best car. But when you look at the results he has got out of that car since Montreal last year, he has made virtually zero mistakes.

“Lewis has got the benefit of experience. He’s still extremely quick, he’s in the best car, in a very well-oiled machine. But Max is the coming man. This sport is crying out for more drivers like Max Verstappen.”

The future of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone is set to be rubber-stamped before this weekend’s action.

Hamilton concluded: “This is a grand prix we can never lose. If Formula One loses this race, it loses so much of its essence.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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