British GP 2007 qualifying ?????? Hamilton rocks Silverstone

Did Lewis Hamilton just produce a mega-lap of outrageous bravery?

Or was the pole position lap that shook the Silverstone crowd the product of a lightly fuelled McLaren?

We won’t know the answers to these questions until tomorrow’s race – but for now Hamilton is the hero at home.

Practice hinted at Ferrari domination – on Kimi Raikkonen’s part at least. Hamilton had warmed the crowd up by being quickest on Friday morning, but Raikkonen was well clear in the next two sessions before qualifying.

The Silverstone weather was true to its unpredictable form – blustery and cool on Friday, threatening rain, on Saturday warm, breezy but occasionally interrupted by cloudy spells that sent ambient temperatures plummeting.

Part one

It looked as though the McLarens had got on terms with the Ferraris by the time qualifying got underway – which bodes well for the race.

But two of the home stars were knocked out straight away – and both had each other partly to blame. Anthony Davidson was briefly held up by Jenson Button and spun off as a result – Button was then delayed by the yellow flags as the marshals recovered Davidson’s car.

For once Alexander Wurz turned his fortunes around and it was he, not team mate Nico Rosberg, who progressed to the second part of qualifying.

17. Nico Rosberg 1’21.219
18. Jenson Button 1’21.335
19. Anthony Davidson 1’21.448
20. Adrian Sutil 1’22.019
21. Takuma Sato 1’22.045
22. Christijan Albers 1’22.589

Part two

The contests for pole position got eve tighter with the McLarens and Ferraris burying times deep in the 1m19s range.

Ralf Schumacher, fifth, was the only driver to break into that range.

The BMWs nearly paid the price for not running a second lap as Nick Heidfeld dropped to tenth and was within seconds of being knocked out.

11. Mark Webber 1’20.235
12. David Coulthard 1’20.329
13. Alexander Wurz 1’20.350
14. Rubens Barrichello 1’20.364
15. Scott Speed 1’20.515
16. Vitantonio Liuzzi 1’20.823

Part three

The final phase of qualifying was pure theatre that brought the British crowd to its feet.

Hamilton and Fernando Alonso took up position at the exit of the pit lane. Alonso tried to jump past Hamilton as the lights changed to green, and then chased his younger team mate around the track.

This potentially had crucial consequences for Hamilton, leading, had time to do one extra lap. It meant that Hamilton was able to do one more ‘fuel burn’ lap than Alonso.

As the first set of times were posted it was Alonso at the front with the two Ferraris between him and Hamilton. But that would all change,

Next time around Alonso improved his pole position time and Massa, behind him, had no response. Raikkonen’s lap looked to be ruined when he put two wheels through the dirt at Luffied bend – but he kept his foot in and snatched fastest lap from Alonso.

There was one twist yet to come – Hamilton, last to set hi final lap, flashed across the line to post a lap one tenth of a second quicker than Raikkonen.

Pole was his, and the ecstatic onlookers cheered him around the track.

And if he doesn’t win tomorrow, a new Silverstone hero will still have been born.

1. Lewis Hamilton 1’19.997
2. Kimi Raikkonen 1’20.099
3. Fernando Alonso 1’20.147
4. Felipe Massa 1’20.265
5. Robert Kubica 1’20.401
6. Ralf Schumcher 1’20.516
7. Heikki Kovalainen 1’20.721
8. Giancarlo Fisichela 1’20.775
9. Nick Heidfeld 1’20.894
10. Jarno Trulli 1’21.240

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