George Russell Leads British Domination Of Silverstone Qualifying

2024 British Grand Prix, Saturday Lat Images
2024 British Grand Prix, Saturday Lat Images

Three Brits on the top three grid slots: the Silverstone crowd could not have asked for more on this Saturday at the British Grand Prix. At the end of a thrilling and dramatic qualifying session, George Russell came out on top with a time of 1’25”819, beating his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton (1’25”990) while Lando Norris was third for McLaren in 1’26”030. This was Russell’s third Formula 1 pole after those in Interlagos in 2022 and Montreal this year. It is pole number 139 for Mercedes, the team’s eleventh at the British Grand Prix. Tomorrow’s race will mark the 84th time there’s been an all-Silver Arrows front row in Formula 1.

Today’s third free practice session was one of the coldest since 2011 when Pirelli took on the role of Formula 1’s sole tyre supplier, with air temperature at 11 °C and the track at 13 °C. The record for low temperature goes to the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix (air 10°C, track 11 °C). Rain and wind characterised the 60 minutes of track time, with all drivers using one set of Intermediates each. In these conditions, the tyres struggled a bit in the initial warm-up phase, but after that they performed well, even over quite long stints.

Qualifying provided an opportunity to check the crossover time from ideal conditions for the Intermediates to the point when slicks could be used. In the first part of Q1 all the drivers used one set of new Intermediates before switching to the C3, the one exception being Hulkenberg who used the same set as in FP3.

The Pirelli Pole Position Award was presented to George Russell by Marcus Wandt, an astronaut with the ESA (European Space Agency). Born in Switzerland in 1980, Wandt has over 20 years of experience with the Swedish Air Force as a pilot, commander and test pilot. Back in January, Wandt travelled with the Axiom 3 mission to the ISS (International Space Station) staying in orbit for 20 days, carrying out experiments and research into microgravity.

2024 British Grand Prix, Saturday Sam Bloxham

George Russell – Pole

‘What a feeling! At the start of this year, we couldn’t have even dreamt of being on pole position at Silverstone. Having three Brits in the top three is absolutely mega too. The crowd has been incredible, and they give us all so much energy. Having myself, Lewis, and Lando (Norris) at the front of the grid just shows that!

‘The car at the moment feels so good. It came alive in Qualifying, and it was an absolute joy to drive around this amazing circuit. We are riding a wave at the moment, but our eyes are on tomorrow. We’ve got a race to win, and we know that the McLaren of Lando will be pushing us incredibly hard. Max (Verstappen) will also be in the fight, but I am so excited right now. We can’t wait for the race tomorrow.’

Lewis Hamilton – 2nd

‘Having three Brits at the front of the grid for the British Grand Prix is incredible. A huge congratulations to George, he did such a great job to take pole position. We didn’t expect to be on the front-row this weekend. This result is therefore huge for us as a team. The car felt fantastic out there and everyone at Brackley and Brixworth deserves this.

‘It was all about getting the tyre temperatures in the right place today and then sealing the deal with a good lap. I think there was a little time left on the table which George managed to extract. I feel confident in the car for tomorrow’s race. With both myself and George on the front row, we have an advantage in trying to keep Lando (Norris) behind. Let’s see what we can do.’

Lando Norris – 3rd

“I’m happy with P3. Three Brits locking out the top three positions at the British Grand Prix is pretty cool. Both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton did great laps and an excellent job. I made a little mistake on my part at the end, but we’re still in a good starting spot. It’s going to rain again tomorrow, and I’m excited to put on a good show. It’s going to be a good race for the fans. I know we’re quick, so I can bring the fight to both the Mercedes.”

2024 British Grand Prix, Saturday Sam Bloxham

Toto Wolff – Mercedes Team Principal & CEO

That was a very good Saturday for the team. That is a front three for Mercedes-Benz power and three Brits at the front, which is special for the Silverstone crowd. That said, today doesn’t count for much. We need to do the job tomorrow and the McLaren of Lando Norris has looked incredibly quick. Keeping him behind will be a tough ask. The race tomorrow may be dictated by tyre degradation so we will have to be at our very best if we want to fight for victory.

We’ve been on a rollercoaster in recent months, and it has been difficult at times. Coming here to one of the temples of motorsport and locking out the front-row is a great reward for everyone at Brackley and Brixworth. So much work has been done in all areas to help get us into this position. We are not stopping here though. We have more developments to come, and everyone is continuing to push incredibly hard.

Mario Isola – Pirelli Director of Motorsport

“It was a very exciting qualifying and provided a crowd-pleasing result with three British drivers in the top three places. In conditions pretty similar to those experienced in last year’s qualifying here, we saw that times have come down by around one second, confirming how much car development has moved on from one year to the next, given that the tyres are completely identical to those used at Silverstone in 2023. Then, when one considers that the grip level on the track surface was definitely not at its best after so much rain had fallen during the day, one can surmise that the cars might have been even quicker!

“Tomorrow, the great unknown will be the weather. If, as forecast, it should rain and the track is wet throughout as was the case in FP3, all the teams have sufficient sets of Intermediates and Wets to run a two-stop race. However, if it’s dry, then a one-stop is quickest on paper, with all three compounds being viable. The C3/C2 strategy is slightly quicker than going from the C3 to the C1, while a strategy without the Soft gives greater flexibility.”

Formula 2

Kimi Antonelli took his maiden Formula 2 win in a Sprint race run in difficult conditions, with rain testing the drivers’ skills. There were also several Safety Car periods and even a red flag stoppage. Prema’s Italian driver led the race from start to finish, inexorably upping the pace after the last restart, eventually crossing the line with an eight second lead over second placed Zane Maloney (Rodin Motorsport), while making it to the third step on the podium was Gabriel Bortoleto (Invicta Racing) who passed his team-mate Kush Maini, before picking up a five second penalty which meant he finished behind the Indian driver.

On a very cold and rainy day, with very difficult track conditions, the rain tyres struggled to get up to temperature in the early laps, but were still able to go the distance, despite a red flag and several Safety Car periods. During the interruption, those who had banked on an all-wet race and were able to make ad hoc set-up changes on the car then had a significant advantage in terms of grip.

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