Lewis Hamilton had to go through the toughest lap of his career to claim pole position for the British Grand Prix.
Defending Formula One champion Hamilton had already put a tough week at the Austrian Grand Prix behind him in practice, only to kick on again in qualifying to set up the possibility of a fifth straight win at Silverstone.
Ferrari – including title rival Sebastian Vettel – were flying on Saturday, but Hamilton’s sublime time of one minute, 25.892 seconds stole top spot.
After celebrating wildly in front of his home crowd, the Brit revealed just why he thought it was such a big result.
“It was the toughest lap I’ve had to do,” he told Sky F1.
“The pressure was beyond anything I’ve experienced before and I think the desire to pull it out – knowing that deep within me I’ve got it, to absolutely extract it and pull it out of the car – was harder than any other qualifying session I’ve experienced.
“It feels kind of night-and-day different [to previous British poles]
“These [Ferrari] guys really pulled something special out of the bag in Q3. I don’t know what they did yesterday, but they’ve come so strong today.”
With the British fans also revelling in England’s World Cup quarter-final defeat of Sweden, Hamilton will hope to secure another crucial triumph on Sunday.
The @SilverstoneUK crowd goes wild as England score against Sweden@FIFAWorldCup @England pic.twitter.com/unbq5YYEJA
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 7, 2018
NECK-AND-NECK VETTEL FEELING THE STRAIN
Hamilton would have targeted Silverstone after winning there in each of the past four seasons and, heading into race day, everything is going to plan.
The pendulum of the title race has swung back and forth, with Vettel taking a one-point lead from Hamilton after the Mercedes man retired in Austria.
Vettel starts from second, but it feels like he has a lot to do in front of a partisan crowd backing Hamilton, who followed up victory at the venue in 2017 by winning five of the remaining 10 races.
The German must also contend with a neck problem that kept him out of the latter part of the third practice session and saw him participate in qualifying with the problem heavily strapped.
“I had a bit of an issue in practice but I’m okay now,” insisted Vettel.
Any issue on Sunday could sway a potentially pivotal race further in Hamilton’s favour.
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
6. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
7. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
8. Romain Grosjean (Haas)
9. Charles Leclerc (Sauber)
10. Esteban Ocon (Force India)
1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 146
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 145
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 101
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 96
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 93
1. Ferrari 247
2. Mercedes 237
3. Red Bull 189
4. Renault 62
5. Haas 49
2017: Lewis Hamilton
2016: Lewis Hamilton
2015: Lewis Hamilton
An uncharacteristically glorious British weekend continues with high temperatures on Sunday, although there could be some cloud cover during the race.