George Russell and Lewis Hamilton lock out front row, Sergio Pérez falters at British GP

Given where the Formula 1 grid is this week, the three cars at the front of the grid simply feel right.

The British trio of George Russell, Lewis Hamilton, and Lando Norris will start up front in Sunday’s British Grand Prix, with Russell on pole position as Mercedes locked out the front row during Saturday’s qualifying session. Norris, looking to rebound after a bitter result last week at the Austrian Grand Prix, will start third alongside Max Verstappen, who qualified fourth.

According to F1TV, it marks the first time the top three drivers on the grid at the historic Silverstone circuit are British drivers. According to F1, it also marks the first time since the 1968 South African Grand Prix that three Britons qualified in the top-three spots for a Grand Prix.

But the story is Mercedes.

This Silver Arrows got off to a slow start this season, but a series of upgrades the team began rolling out at the Miami Grand Prix have certainly delivered the improved performance they were seeking. Mercedes has been the hottest team over the last three race weekends — having scored 100 points over that stretch — and since Miami only McLaren has scored more points, 144 to the 132 posted by Mercedes.

That hot streak looks to continue this weekend.

“Nice one team,” exclaimed Russell as he crossed the line having put his W15 on pole position, knowing he and Hamilton had locked out the front row. “Race to win tomorrow.”

Whether the Silver Arrows can deliver a win tomorrow remains to be seen, and the fight at the front looks fascinating between the McLarens, the Mercedes duo, and an ever-lurking Verstappen starting fourth.

But make no mistake, Mercedes are back, and if they keep their streak of results alive on tomorrow, it could set things up for a fascinating second half of the season.

Here are the full results, as well as more winners and losers from a thrilling qualifying session at the British Grand Prix

Winners: McLaren

In terms of the big picture, Saturday was another strong day for McLaren.

Norris is set to start the British Grand Prix on the third row, right behind pole-sitter Russell in P3. When the lights go out tomorrow he will have a friendly face right behind him, as teammate Oscar Piastri qualified fifth and will be in Norris’ rear-view mirror at the start tomorrow.

Those starting positions give McLaren a tremendous chance to bring home another big haul of points in the British Grand Prix.

When I spoke with Oscar Piastri following his podium finish in the Monaco Grand Prix, the second-year driver told me in no uncertain terms that the F1 Constructors’ Championship is far from over, and that McLaren is in the fight.

“The Constructors’ [Championship] I would say is still open. We’re still a third of the way through the year. So it’s definitely still all to play for,” said Piastri to me back at the end of May.

“I think in the position I’m in in the driver’s standings, [I’m] probably not gonna win the Championship unless I really take it up a notch again. But I think in the Constructors’, we’re not out of contention for winning that,” added Piastri.

“So, that’s definitely the aim of the team.”

Much has been said and written about how Norris would respond following the late-stage incident with Verstappen at the Austrian Grand Prix. While their wheel touch ended Norris’ chances at a win at Red Bull Ring, Piastri’s ability to finish on the podium — combined with results from the F1 Sprint Race the day before — saw McLaren pull a few points closer to Red Bull in that potential title fight.

And with both Norris and Piastri starting inside the top five — while Verstappen will be alone at the front of the grid when the lights go out Sunday — McLaren is primed to do that again tomorrow.

Loser: Sergio Pérez

With just over seven minutes to go in Q1, the red flag flew.

Sergio Pérez was in the gravel.

The Red Bull driver was the first victim of the tricky conditions, as teams and drivers alike performed the cost-benefit analysis of slick tires versus the intermediates. While the track was drying out and there was a dry racing line taking shape, Pérez was one of the first drivers to make the change to slicks.

As he was winding his way around Silverstone on that set of slicks, he ran wide at Copse and found the gravel.

Despite his protests and pleas for a push, the crane eventually came out, and the driver reluctantly climbed out of his RB20, as a chagrined Christian Horner looked on from the pit wall.

On F1TV Jolyon Palmer summed it up as “nightmare” stuff for Pérez and Red Bull. “Oh no for Sergio Pérez,” said Palmer. “That is nightmare stuff for team and driver … this is off the back of what Christian Horner was saying yesterday they need a second driver in the fight … this is tough times for Sergio Përez.”

Complicating matters for the team when it comes to the Constructors’ Championship is that Verstappen could only qualify fourth, and will start alongside Norris and behind the Mercedes duo. That could mean Red Bull sees their rivals inch even closer in the Constructors’ standings by the time the checkered flag flies on Sunday.

But that is a team issue, returning to Pérez, the early end to his day comes at a critical time for the driver.

As Palmer and Ben Edwards noted, the incident comes as Pérez is under renewed pressure regarding his seat with the team. Not only has his mid-season swoon come as teams such as McLaren, Ferrari, and Mercedes have pulled closer to Red Bull in the standings, but this week brought renewed speculation about a potential driver change at Red Bull, despite Pérez’s new contract.

To the point about the standings, as we outlined earlier in the week Pérez has secured just 15 points since the Miami Grand Prix, miles off the 101 points added by Max Verstappen during that stretch. Pérez is dead last among the eight drivers from the top-four teams in the standings during that period of the calendar:

Driver Points Since Miami Grand Prix

Driver Points since Miami
Driver Points since Miami
Max Verstappen 101
George Russell 74
Lando Norris 73
Oscar Piastri 71
Charles Leclerc 62
Lewis Hamilton 58
Carlos Sainz Jr. 52
Sergio Pérez 15

Pérez is set to start P19 in Sunday’s Grand Prix, thanks to a massive grid penalty handed down to Pierre Gasly for changing components.

But at this point, he might have bigger problems than a start at the back of the grid.

Winners: Williams

This was a week that Williams truly needed, and their best qualifying session of the 2024 campaign.

Alexander Albon advanced into Q3, posting the ninth-fastest time in the second segment of qualifying. He ended his third segment of qualifying in that position as well, and he will start inside the top ten on Sunday. Putting the team on track to bring home some much-needed points in Sunday’s main event.

“Yes very happy,” said Albon after qualifying.

As for Albon’s teammate Logan Sargeant, the lone American driver on the grid took to the track over the Fourth of July weekend sporting a Union Jack on his FW46 and facing continued speculation about his F1 future. But Sargeant advanced into Q2 for just the second time this season, and while he was eliminated in Q2 and is set to start P12, it was another positive sign for the young driver.

And perhaps of note, it marked the third time in the past five grands prix that he out-qualified Sergio Pérez.

It might not be enough to save his seat for next season, and interestingly enough Williams Team Principal James Vowles even opened the door to replacing Sargeant at some point this season earlier in the week. “We’re continually evaluating it,” said Vowles on Friday when asked about a potential mid-season change. “What we’ve said to Logan is it’s a meritocracy. You have to make sure you earn your place in the sport continuously. That’s been the same message that has been for 18 months really for him. And we are open-minded to things.”

Sargeant’s performance on Saturday might not save his seat for 2025, but it could keep him in the FW46 for a little while longer.

But for Williams, who are seeking their first points since Albon’s P9 at the Monaco Grand Prix, Saturday was a massive step in that direction.

Losers: Alpine

This was going to be a bad weekend at least for Pierre Gasly.

But things got worse for Alpine on Saturday.

Gasly’s British Grand Prix got off on the wrong foot as the team changed components on his A524. The team added the fifth Internal Combustion Engine, the fifth Turbo Charger, the fifth Motor Generator Unit – Heat, the fifth Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic, and the third Control Electronics.

As all five components were more than the allowed number per season under the Sporting Regulations, Gasly was hit with a ten-place grid drop, for a total penalty of 50 places on the grid.

As a result, he was locked into starting at the back of the grid on Sunday no matter what happened today.

That means if the team was to salvage something this weekend, their hopes likely rested with Esteban Ocon.

Who was eliminated in Q1.

Ocon perhaps fell victim to circumstances, as he noted after the checkered flag flew at the end of Q1 that his one push lap came just as the rain fell near the end of the segment, which threw the session into chaos. But he could not find the time he needed and is set to start at the back of the grid near his teammate.

Alpine has made substantial progress throughout this season, given where they began the 2024 F1 campaign. Recent results have pulled the team out of the basement, and into P8 in the Constructors’ Championship standings. They entered the British Grand Prix having scored points in four straight races, and five of the last six.

But given how their Sunday is shaping up, that streak is likely to end tomorrow.

Winner: Nico Hulkenberg

“[Nico] Hülkenberg is driving a blinder this weekend.”

That was the description from Jolyon Palmer from the F1TV commentary box, as the Haas driver stormed into Q3 and put his VF-24 onto the third row, as Hülkenberg qualified sixth for the British Grand Prix.

It is his best qualifying result of the 2024 season, as well as the best result for Haas this year. It was also the result of a bold strategy call from the team, as Haas kept Hülkenberg in the garage as Q1 began in wet conditions. While the rest of the grid took to the circuit in the green-walled intermediates, Hülkenberg waited until the very end to charge out on a set of slicks.

With just one chance at a flying lap, he made it count.

“In Q1 we decided not to run on the inters because we expected it to be dry, so that’s what we did,” described Haas team boss Ayao Komatsu in the team’s post-qualifying media report. “It was very tricky, we need to review what we did and how we can do it better because we just got through with Nico.”

Hülkenberg starting sixth gives the team a legitimate chance at carving into the advantage Visa Cash App RB F1 Team currently holds over them in the Constructors’ Championship standings. VCARB sits sixth in the Constructors’ standings entering the British Grand Prix, with 30 points on the season. Haas, meanwhile, is in seventh, 11 points adrift of VCARB in the Constructors’ table.

But, hypothetically, should Hülkenberg manage to finish where he starts tomorrow, a P6 would see Haas add eight points to their account, bringing their season total to 27. With both Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda starting outside the top ten, that would pull Haas to within three points of VCARB for sixth.

Which would be a massive result for the team.

Of course, there is a long way to go before points are handed out at Silverstone, but this was a tremendous day for Hülkenberg, and Haas.

Loser: Charles Leclerc

Ferrari has been on the back foot all week, and that continued on Saturday.

Charles Leclerc bore the brunt of things, as he failed to advance into Q3 and is slated to start the main event alongside Logan Sargeant in P11.

Ferrari has struggled in the wake of Leclerc’s breakthrough victory at the Monaco Grand Prix, which saw the driver finally reach the top of the podium at his home race. Leclerc has scored just 12 points since that win at home, and the upgrades the team introduced following the Monaco Grand Prix have yet to deliver the improved performance Ferrari was seeking. While Carlos Sainz Jr. advanced to Q3 at Silverstone and scored a podium last week in Austria, Ferrari has slipped away from Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship standings since Monaco.

Starting from 11th Leclerc can certainly work his way into the points, but that is a small-picture issue. The bigger-picture question facing Leclerc — and Ferrari — is whether they can find the answers they need to the upgrades to the SF-24 introduced following Monaco.

Speaking with the media on Friday Leclerc indicated that the upgrades are doing what they expected, but it is a matter of getting the SF-24 into the right operating window to maximize the package. “We are still trying to work out where we need to set up the car in order to maximise the potential of those upgrades,” Leclerc told media on Friday. “Because, as I’ve said many times, the [performance] numbers that we were expecting from this upgrade is there.

“The upgrade is working the way it should be, but it’s more about where you run the car to optimise those numbers that we see that for now, we haven’t quite managed to do that. So we are still working on that.”

That work continues …

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