Bottas beats Hamilton to 70th Anniversary GP pole with incredible Hulk right behind

Valtteri Bottas grabbed pole position revenge for the 70th Anniversary British GP at Silverstone as super-sub Racing Point stand-in Nico Hulkenberg was third quickest on only his second race weekend back in F1.

Bottas looked set for pole last weekend before a typical last-ditch Hamilton special denied the Finn by hundredths. But this time, Bottas must have had porridge for breakfast again, as his 1m25.154s effort this time saw him come out on top.

“It feels good,” said Bottas afterward. “I love qualifying, especially at Silverstone and nice to get the best of myself and out of the car. Set-up wise we made good steps from last weekend which was why my qualifying performance today was better than last weekend so yes, once again fun to drive this amazing car and so quick.

“Mentally, when you start from pole you can only aim to win the race and obviously the starting point for it is good, and the race pace is there. The first job is to get a good start off the line like last weekend and go from there. But the mentality is to try and win it, and that’s it!”

For Hamilton, second on the grid won’t be too much of a hardship going into Sunday’s race, the reigning world champion already with a vicelike grip on the world championship and with a full race distance with which to attack his teammate tomorrow.

“I wasn’t that great, but Valtteri did a good job and deserved pole, I guess,” said Hamilton. “For me, just wasn’t a perfect last lap. It’s highly unlikely many people will do a one stop tomorrow.”

It was entirely expected that the Mercedes duo would once again occupy the front row of the grid, but arguably the story of the day was Hulkenberg’s mega qualifying effort, the German coming in at short notice last weekend for the coronavirus afflicted Sergio Perez after a year away from the sport.

“A crazy last week, or seven, eight days, whatever it is now,” said Hulkenberg. “Obviously, a big high last week to come back and then the big low on Sunday. This weekend I felt much better in the car, much more prepared. Quali in Q2 was still a bit tricky and I made life hard for myself a bit, was a bit scared that I damaged the car and Q3 was just head down, full beans whatever I had.

“I’m a bit surprised to be standing here but obviously big smile on my face but also a lot of respect for the race tomorrow. It’s going to hurt tomorrow not having the experience and having gone through the motions with the start and everything because it’s still new with this car but we’ll do what we can, I’ll try to learn fast and keep the car where it deserves to be.”

Max Verstappen would have been most punters’ bet for best of the rest behind the dominant Mercedes duo, but the Dutchman will still very much fancy his chances of a podium starting alongside Hulkenberg on the second row, Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo continuing his good form with the fifth fastest time, ahead of the second Racing Point of Lance Stroll, Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc.

Alexander Albon was next in the second Red Bull from Lando Norris and Esteban Ocon but Sebastian Vettel will be bewildered with his pace, the four-time world champion languishing 12th on the grid.

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.