Verstappen grabs pole position for British GP after pipping Hamilton in Sprint race

Max Verstappen secured a historic first ever pole position via the new Formula One trial format of Sprint Qualifying, beating Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to the flag.

Hamilton had started from Sprint pole after Friday’s qualifying session but that counted for nothing after the championship leader got another superb start off the line, out dragging his rival into the first corner.

The seven-time world champion fought tooth and nail to retake that vital position with the crowds cheering him on through an exciting first few corners. But once Verstappen held off that initial challenge, he was able to extend his advantage and prevent Mercedes from securing yet another pole position at a favourite stomping ground.

Pole position via sprint qualifying also nets the winner three points, so the Dutchman also extends his championship lead to another point over Hamilton, which could prove vital by the season’s end.

“We had a good start and a good fight with Lewis on the first lap and then we tried to do our own pace but you could see we were pushing each other hard because at the end of the race the tyres were blistering a lot, so we had to manage that to the end,” said Verstappen afterward. “Nevertheless happy to have scored us three points.

“It sounds a bit funny when you have secured pole position but anyway we will take it and again I think it will be a really exciting grand prix tomorrow. We start the race of course on lower fuel and then we really push these cars through the corners lap after lap so it’s very hard on tyres but it’s the same for everyone, so we just have to deal with it.

“We are not allowed to touch the car. We are quick in the corners so we have to make sure that we do the same tomorrow. I still think we can have a very good race.”

For Hamilton, it was impossible to hide the disappointment in his voice as the crowd cheered him during his post Sprint Race interview. Yet the Mercedes has shown renewed form and pace over the opening couple of days, and that certainly bodes well for Sunday’s all important race day.

“I gave it everything today,” reflected Hamilton. “Firstly I want to give a lot of love to all these fans. I can’t tell you the energy I’m getting from everyone and the support means the world to me so sorry I wasn’t able to get the win in Sprint 1 but tomorrow we fight again.

“I hit target for my start and it’s not good when you lose from P1 but hopefully we will try and turn a negative into a positive tomorrow. Every point counts, and I’m grateful to finish and tomorrow we fight again but they are so strong and in the race he was pulling away and there was nothing I could do to hold onto him, so we’ve really got to be in front some how.

“They (Red Bull) have done a great job with their starts and we have lost a bit of performance on our starts so we have to work a little harder to improve that because losing positions is never a good thing.”

One factor that may well improve Hamilton’s chances is the fact that Verstappen no longer has his trusted ‘wing man’ in the form of Sergio Perez, who spun out at Becketts on lap 5 and ultimately had to retire.

Starting alongside Bottas on the second row is the rejuvenated Charles Leclerc, from another home favourite in Lando Norris and his McLaren teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

Next comes Fernando Alonso, who enjoyed an almighty scrap with both Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel behind him as an inspired George Russell once again qualified in the top ten ahead of Esteban Ocon.

“I don’t know how it was for the fans but yesterday was such a fun day to have qualifying on the Friday, way ore enjoyable,” added Hamilton. “I don’t know whether that was the most exciting race or not but we should do more like that, maybe a different version of it in future because it makes the weekend more enjoyable, I think .

“I need everyone to bring their energy again tomorrow and I will come with my ‘A Game’.”

Max Verstappen on his way to pole position during the Sprint for the F1 British GP (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images) 

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.