BRITISH GP: Pole star Hamilton revels in Silverstone qualifying pressure
Home favourite Lewis Hamilton admitted he revelled in the pressure of bouncing back from a qualifying scare to claim pole position for Sunday's British Grand Prix (start 1pm).
Hamilton appeared comfortably on course to delight the partisan Silverstone crowd on Saturday after blitzing his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg with his opening lap in the shoot-out for pole.
But his time was controversially chalked off by the stewards after he was found guilty of placing all four wheels of his Mercedes off the track at the ultra-fast Copse corner.
The decision promoted Rosberg to provisional pole, but Hamilton, under intense scrutiny, delivered the goods in the closing moments of the session to claim the 55th pole of his career, and thus start Sunday’s race as the overwhelming favourite to become the first driver to seal a hat-trick of consecutive victories here at Silverstone.
“I feel like I have been under pressure my whole life, and I just feel comfortable in that scenario,” a jubilant Hamilton said.
“If I was having an argument with someone I would feel less comfortable because I don’t like confrontations. In a car, it is to do with confidence and belief in your ability.
“I do enjoy, and often do things the hard way. I don’t know why, but that is how it has been in my life.”
Despite the fear of team orders following their final-lap collision in Austria last week, Hamilton and Rosberg will be free to race for the remainder of the season, albeit with the threat of a team-imposed ban should they collide again.
Their dramatic crash at the Red Bull Ring sparked yet another flashpoint in a turbulent relationship between the pair who first locked horns on a race track as teenagers.
“We’re here to do a job,” said Hamilton reflecting on his relationship with the German, who was sitting alongside him. Both Mercedes drivers live in Monaco.
“When we’re at home it is very easy. Not too long ago I was swimming in the pool downstairs and Nico came down and we had a chat. It was just normal, there was no racing, there was no agenda. When we are racing, it’s fierce competition. That’s how it has been since we were 13.”
Hamilton has won here in successive years and Rosberg, 11 points clear in the championship, would appear to have it all to do to beat his team-mate on Sunday.
Rosberg said: “Am I alarmed? No, Lewis was quicker today and I accept that, but there is a great opportunity tomorrow.
“There is low grip so the start is going to be unusually difficult. It has not been one of Lewis’ strengths recently. It is still all to play for.”
For a brief moment it appeared as though matters would worsen for Rosberg after he was summoned to the stewards for an alleged safety car line breach in qualifying. The stewards however, took no further action.
Elsewhere, Jenson Button’s Silverstone hoodoo continued after he was knocked out of qualifying at the first hurdle. Button, who has never secured a podium finish in front of his home fans, will start 17th in his 17th British Grand Prix. Jolyon Palmer will be 18th on his Silverstone bow.
Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo locked out the front row for Red Bull while Sebastian Vettel will start only 11th after serving a penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change.