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Formula 1

Russell on British GP pole as Norris and Verstappen mess up

by Ben Anderson
4 min read

George Russell claimed pole position for the 2024 British Grand Prix, leading a Mercedes 1-2 at Silverstone as Lando Norris aborted his final Q3 lap and Max Verstappen’s Red Bull was hobbled by floor damage.

Mercedes has looked quick whenever cool and damp conditions have prevailed at Silverstone and was properly competitive throughout the three segments of qualifying, which was held on a damp but drying circuit.

It was dry enough for slicks from the second runs of Q1 and so the lap times improved dramatically from session to session, and it was Norris’s McLaren that looked the favourite for pole heading into Q3 - especially after Verstappen went off in Q1 and picked up floor damage.

Norris went two tenths clear in Q2 and held provisional pole after his first run in Q3, before Russell’s Mercedes squeaked ahead by just 0.006 seconds.

Lewis Hamilton, fastest in the wetter conditions of Q1, briefly went to the top on the second runs in Q3, before Russell’s second effort eclipsed Hamilton's own.

So Russell claimed pole by 0.171s from Hamilton, with Norris completing an all-British top three after overheating his rear tyres badly on that final run and aborting to the pits.

Verstappen had to settle for fourth, almost two tenths behind Norris, but the Red Bull’s true pace was disguised by that damage.

Verstappen went off at Copse in Q1, losing the rear on the way in on slicks on a damp track. He caught the slide but the correction carried him across the wet run-off strip and into the gravel trap, which proved enough to damage the floor.

His final lap in Q3 was at least enough to get him ahead of Oscar Piastri’s McLaren, which failed to improve on his own final run.

Nico Hulkenberg put the upgraded Haas into the top six with a superb performance, almost two tenths clear of the works Ferrari of Carlos Sainz.

Lance Stroll, Alex Albon and Fernando Alonso completed the top 10, though Stroll faces a stewards investigation for running a red light at the pit exit in Q1.

The Aston Martins have looked relatively better around this high-speed circuit than at recent races, while Albon did an excellent job to get his Williams into Q3.

Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari failed to make Q3 by 0.164s thanks to a last-gasp effort from Stroll’s Aston in Q2.

Ferrari has been struggling with bouncing at high speed since upgrading its car at the Spanish Grand Prix and has been experimenting with different specifications at Silverstone to try to reclaim some stability.

Leclerc hasn’t looked comfortable since Friday practice and he ended qualifying 0.254s behind Ferrari team-mate Sainz, who was only seventh quickest in Q2.

Logan Sargeant was delighted to progress through Q1 in the most difficult of the conditions, but his Williams couldn’t keep with the pace in the drier conditions of Q2 and he ended up 12th - though within a tenth of the second Ferrari.

Yuki Tsunoda, Zhou Guanyu - who was an impressive eighth quickest in Q1 - and Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top 15.

Tsunoda lapped within a tenth of Sargeant but the other two were quite far away from making it anywhere near the top 10.

Another Q1 exit couldn’t have come at a worse time for Sergio Perez, who is under renewed pressure after a string of underwhelming performances in the second Red Bull.

In a session that began with all cars on intermediate tyres on a drying track, Perez sat just inside the top 10 before drivers began making the switch to slicks.

But Perez then went off at Copse after correcting a rear slide on the way in and (unlike Verstappen) spinning on the wetter runoff area and into the gravel, where his Red Bull became beached, causing a red flag.

As others improved over the final seven minutes, on a track that was dry enough for slicks but with fresh rain falling again, Perez dropped to 19th - ahead of only Pierre Gasly’s Alpine, which starts from the back of the grid anyway because of an engine penalty.

The other Q1 fallers were Esteban Ocon in 18th, who raged against Alpine’s run plan for requiring him to do his flying lap as the rain fell, Kevin Magnussen’s Haas (17th), which reverted to former spec after picking up damage on Friday, and the Sauber of Valtteri Bottas (16th).

Bottas was among the first to set a time after the Q1 restart, but couldn’t improve on that effort as the track conditions changed and he ended up half a second adrift of making Q2 as team-mate Zhou Guanyu made the top eight in Q1.

Albon, Stroll, Russell, Zhou and Hamilton are all under investigation for failing to follow the race director’s instructions in Q2.

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