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Qualifying Analysis: Hamilton is still the top dog

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Qualifying Analysis: Hamilton is still the top dog
The qualifying session for the British GP proved to be another tightly contested battle between Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg as momentum swung back and forth. Finally, Lewis’ home crowd got what they have been looking for, the reigning champion’s 46th career pole.

With that feat, he stands third in the all-time pole sitters list behind two greats of the sport, Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna. It wasn’t all smooth-sailing for the Brit though as in Q3 he came under tremendous pressure from his teammate Rosberg after the first of two runs to decide the pole.

The German thought he nailed it on his first attempt before realising he was a tenth down seeing his car’s dash. On the decisive run, neither could improve handing the top honours for the eighth time this season to Hamilton.

They were not the only drivers to have struggled in their final fliers as the unpredictable gusty winds prompted lose of grip at various parts of the high-speed Silverstone circuit. Felipe Massa did a fantastic lap to seal third from his Williams teammate Valtteri Bottas but more crucially two tenths ahead of Kimi Raikkonen who out-qualified the other Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel for fifth. The Brazilian racer took calculated risks on his final Q3 run and improved considerably.

Encouraged by their long run pace Williams are looking to get at least one of their cars on the podium for the third consecutive race. Despite bettering Vettel, Raikkonen was not pleased with where he would start from as he aims fighting at the front, presumably with Mercedes. His German teammate though has his hopes set on the SF15-T’s strong Sunday pace that took him to five podiums already in 2015.

Red Bull were pleased with Kvyat’s seventh and the updates that have been brought in while Ricciardo raised his concerns over the lack of downforce at slow speed corners after finishing tenth and looking to make up places strategically if there are any. Toro Rosso believed they could’ve got Carlos Sainz higher up the field had it not been for the low grip issues some drivers suffered at the end of Q3.

The other Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen was left perplexed with the oversteer problems that caused him a shot at Q3 in spite of running so well in the practice sessions. Nico Hulkenberg will debut the Force India VJM08-B from ninth on the grid and was satisfied with the performance upgrades appeared on the car while his Mexican counterpart Sergio Perez remains optimistic despite narrowly missing out Q3.

Lotus’ fears came true as they believed the fast and flowing, high downforce nature of Silverstone wouldn’t suit their E23 machinery. The Frenchman Grosjean will line-up 12th ahead of Verstappen and Maldonado who blamed setup issues for starting so far back on the grid. The Sauber pair disappointed once again as Nasr struggled for bringing tyres into best operating window and was eliminated at the first part of qualifying. He shares eighth row with teammate Marcus Ericsson.

It was thought that McLaren mightn’t run Fernando Alonso who endured coolant leak issues before the start of qualifying but he was sent out on track along with the other McLaren of Jenson Button only to ensure 17th on the grid. The experienced Briton’s silence for the radio message at the end of Q1 very much summed up their Saturday. Stevens and Merhi completed the final grid slots for Manor Marussia and admitted that their first major update package has been working to good effect. (Suren M)

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