Lewis Hamilton will start at the front of the grid for Formula One’s historic first sprint qualifying race at the British Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver beat Red Bull’s Max Verstappen into second with Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas third.
With qualifying held on Friday evening at Silverstone, Hamilton put in a superb run to take the top spot for the race which will decide pole position for Sunday’s grand prix at Silverstone.
With F1 experimenting with a new format for the race weekend, this was new territory for everyone involved. Qualifying took place after only one practice session on Friday morning and ran instead of second practice. The intent is to trial a format designed to offer more entertainment over the weekend and potentially create a more mixed up grid for Sunday’s race.
The result will not be recorded as a pole position in the record books, with that honour remaining to be claimed by the winner of the sprint race on Saturday. Unlike usual qualifying the teams had to run with the softest tyre compound throughout, removing any strategic tyre selection and allowing all the drivers to push as hard as possible.
The qualifying session was run exactly as it would have been on a traditional weekend with three sessions and five drivers eliminated at the close of the first two, before the final top 10 shoot-out.
The serious business remains however. After a final practice session on Saturday at noon, the sprint race is set to take place at 4.30pm and will not only decide the grid for Sunday’s race but world championship points will also be awarded, tre, two and one for the top three finishers.
Verstappen currently leads Hamilton by 32 points in the title race and Red Bull, who have won the last five races have a 44-point advantage over Mercedes in the constructors’ championship.
The sprint, as F1 have named it, will take place over 100km, which is approximately one third the distance of a usual race. It will run for at least the number of laps required to exceed 100km, at Silverstone this should amount to 17 laps.
Teams are not required to make pitstops and can choose any tyres they like, encouraging a flat-out blast to the flag.
There will be no podium ceremony afterwards and it will not count statistically as a race win but the top three drivers will do a victory lap of the circuit and in a nod to F1’s heritage, be presented with laurel wreaths to mark their achievement.