British Grand Prix qualifying report – Bottas in pole position to upset home favourite Hamilton

“Porridge” was Valtteri Bottas’ answer to Mark Webber’s opening podium interview question after he romped to victory in the season opening Australian Grand Prix.

Webber had asked Bottas what he had to eat that morning after the Finn completed a dominant weekend in Melbourne, one in which he also started on pole position. And Bottas will also start from pole at Silverstone, pipping teammate Lewis Hamilton by just 0.006 seconds after the championship leader made a mistake on his first lap into Brooklands in Q3.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc starts Sunday’s British Grand Prix from third on the grid ahead of the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly with an out of sorts Sebastian Vettel only sixth.

“It feels very good,” said Bottas in the press conference afterward. “It just reminds you of why you do this, these kinds of feelings, but yeah, it’s been pretty close all weekend, and today, with Lewis and just really, really happy to get a good lap and be on pole.”

Starting on pole doesn’t necessarily mean Bottas will again romp to victory on Sunday, as he did in Australia. Hamilton, home fans behind him, is aiming for a record breaking sixth British Grand Prix victory and will clearly still be the man to beat on one of his favourite circuits.

“Congratulations to Valtteri, he did a solid job throughout qualifying,” said Hamilton after being beaten to pole. “Ultimately not good enough, we had worked hard throughout the session, but it just got a little bit away from us. We sacrificed a lap in Q2, which would have helped get a reading of where the car was, but we didn’t end up doing that.

“At the end I had that mistake on the first lap and the second one just wasn’t that great so fair play to Valtteri he did the job. But it’s a long race tomorrow, we’ve got a great crowd here and hopefully I can do something good for them tomorrow. I just have to see how I can convert the position I’m in to progress forward. I think the long run yesterday was good, so I hope we can utilise the tyre advantage we have, in the sense of starting on the mediums, so hopefully we can do a good job with that tomorrow.”

With both Bottas and Hamilton starting the race on the medium compound tyres on Sunday, it will be another interesting race in terms of race strategy with the Monagasque starting on the soft rubber. Making up places at the start, and the circuit staying dry, will be key to his chances.

“I haven’t watched the forecast yet, so I don’t really know – but I guess, yeah, in Silverstone it’s often very unpredictable, and as we’ve seen in the last two days, you can have drops any time,” said Leclerc. “So, it will make the race quite interesting if it’s like this. Then, if I can choose, the best would probably have a good start on the Soft, do seven laps and then big rain and keep this position. But I don’t choose. I think it will be very unpredictable anyway.

“If we manage to gain some positions at the start, it’s a track where it’s quite hard to overtake so then we have some chances to keep them but if not I guess it’s going to be very difficult to fight with them.”

Bottas may well be eating his porridge again on Sunday morning and not risking a shave in his new, ‘no more Mr. Nice guy’ approach. But home support and the notoriously changeable British summer weather conditions may mean the popular Finn will need more than a bowlful of oats and lack of a razor blade to achieve a repeat of Melbourne.

2019 British Grand Prix, Saturday – LAT Images
Fraser Masefield

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.

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