Sebastian Vettel will start from pole position for a second race in a row as Red Bull’s excellent British Grand Prix performance continued.
The team looked likely to lock out the front row but Mark Webber was delayed on his final qualifying attempt, leaving him third.
Vettel and fellow front row starter Rubens Barrichello have a strong chance to take points off championship leader Jenson Button, who starts sixth.
Most of the front runners starts qualifying with lengthy stints on the hard tyre. Jarno Trulli pumped in a series of hot laps culminating in a 1’18.886 which put him fastest.
Mark Webber nabbed the top spot off Trulli after just two laps, setting a 1’18.763, and improving by almost tenth of a second on his final lap.
But the real story of Q1 was what happened to Lewis Hamilton. As he began his final lap in a bid to escape the bottom five, Adrian Sutil crashes heavily at Abbey bringing out the red flags.
There ended Hamilton’s hopes of making it into Q2 in his home race – a winner in 2008, he will start on the back row of the grid this year.
Drivers eliminated in Q1
16. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India-Mercedes – 1’19.802
17. Sebastian Bourdais, Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1’19.898
18. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes – 1’19.909
19. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes – 1’19.917
20. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1’20.236
After Hamilton’s problems in Q1 it was the turn of the other British driver – Jenson Button – to suffer a scare in Q2. His Brawn had struggled to match the speed of the Red Bulls in practice, and he found himself in the bottom five in the dying moments of Q2.
He managed to improve to eighth with his final run, knocking out Felipe Massa. The Ferrari driver missed the apex at Brooklands and Luffield on his final attempt, leaving him out of the shoot-out for the top ten.
Vettel was quickest after the first round of laps, but Webber improved on his second lap – his first stint on soft tyres – lapping in 1’20.040, which no-one could get within 0.3s to begin with. It took Vettel until the dying moments to do better, posting a 1’18.119, but unlike Webber he had to use the soft tyres to do it.
Drivers eliminated in Q2
11. Felipe Massa, Ferrari – 1’18.927
12. Robert Kubica, BMW – 1’19.308
13. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes – 1’19.353
14. Nelson Piquet Jnr, Renault – 1’19.392
15. Nick Heidfeld, BMW – 1’19.448
Both Brawns, Red Bulls, Toyotas, Williams plus Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen started the final part of qualifying.
But the anticipated battle between the two Red Bull drivers failed to materialise – perhaps because of differences in their fuel loads, but it was also down to Webber getting delayed by Raikkonen at the beginning of his flying lap. That left Webber third behind Barrichello.
Jarno Trulli took fourth ahead of Kazuki Nakajima – the Williams driver putting his car an excellent fifth relegating Button to sixth.
That means the Silverstone crowd looks unlikely to get a home win tomorrow – and both of Button’s biggest rivals are perfectly placed to capitalise.
The starting fuel weights for the cars will be announced later.
Top ten drivers in Q3
1. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault – 1’19.509
2. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn-Mercedes – 1’19.856
3. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault – 1’19.868
4. Jarno Trulli, Toyota – 1’20.091
5. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams-Toyota – 1’20.216
6. Jenson Button, Brawn-Mercedes – 1’20.289
7. Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota – 1’20.361
8. Timo Glock, Toyota – 1’20.490
9. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari – 1’20.715
10. Fernando Alonso, Renault – 1’20.741