By Robert Haile
The British Grand Prix at Silverstone it going to be the first race weekend to use a new format and it will in front of a capacity crowd of 140,000 people.
Starting on Friday, July 16, there will be the usual free practice for the teams to get used to the track before the qualifying session for the Sprint Race in the evening.
Qualifying followed the traditional setup with three sessions with five dropping out in the first two before a top ten shootout to see who will start on pole position.
Saturday, July 17, will be the first Sprint Race of the season which will set the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
Mercedes have created a video to help explain the new format with driver Valtteri Bottas, Sporting Director Ron Meadows and Andrew Shovlin Trackside Engineering Director talking us through the differences and challenges facing the teams.
In Free Practice Max Verstappen was the man to beat setting a 1.27:035 for Red Bull.
Going out in the first session Kimi Räikkönen for Alfa Romeo continued to struggle in qualifying as he joined Haas’s Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, Williams’ Nicholas Latifi with AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda a surprise addition.
The second session had both Alpine drivers, Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon finishing in the bottom five.
Antonio Giovinazzi for Alfa Romeo and Lance Stroll for Aston Martin both missed out as the impressive AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly failed to make it to the final session for the second time in thirteen races.
Whoever took pole position would make history as the first Sprint Race loomed.
Mercedes bit back as Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time of the session as Verstappen was .075 slower in second.
Bottas took third as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc gained fourth as Red Bull’s Sergio Perez had to settle for fifth due to track infringement meant his time for fourth was deleted.
Sixth and seventh are split by .002 as the battle of the McLaren’s had Lando Norris beat Daniel Ricciardo.
Williams’ George Russell starts eighth as he made it to the final session fir the second time this season.
Carlos Sainz for Ferrari will start ahead of Sebastian Vettel for Aston Martin in tenth.
History maker Lewis Hamilton said: “I am so grateful to see everyone here – to come to the Silverstone Grand Prix and have a full crowd and see the energy is amazing. When I was coming into this weekend, I was hopeful that with the great work we have done together in the team, plus the energy of the fans, it would get us there.
“Red Bull were very quick in the practice session but we were just staying focused on our job and trying to layer up – I was in the sim this morning as a practice session because it’s the first time ever we have had a morning free. I was just putting in the time, trying to give absolutely everything and leave no stone unturned.
“We’ve been working so hard, putting so much effort and time in – at the track, on the sim, in the factory – just trying to stay centred and squeeze every last thing out of this car. It’s been such a difficult time for everyone and we finally got all the fans here at the British Grand Prix, and the desire to want to deliver for everyone is beyond belief.”
Pole Position – Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.26:134