Lewis Hamilton was in the simulator on Friday morning before beating Max Verstappen in qualifying for the first Formula 1 Sprint race at the British Grand Prix, and called the result “incredibly special.”
Friday featured a single practice session in the afternoon before qualifying in the evening, with the result setting the grid for the 100km Sprint on Saturday. While Mercedes hasn’t been fastest in qualifying since the fourth round of the season in Spain, Hamilton edged Verstappen by 0.075s to secure first on the grid for the Sprint, with the winner of that race being credited with pole position for the grand prix.
“It’s been such a long time — it feels like such a long time since we’ve been able to get anywhere near,” Hamilton said. “So it’s incredibly special and obviously to do it on your home turf, there’s no greater feeling. But that’s only one step forward. We’ve got that race tomorrow which is going to be incredibly tough, but I think I’ve got the car in a good place. That’s when the work gets done over these next two days.”
Hamilton ran towards the thousands of fans in the grandstands at Silverstone and pumped his fist after setting the fastest time, and while he praised the impact of the crowd he also revealed he’d spent Friday morning practicing at the team factory less than 10 miles away.
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“I don’t know what (Red Bull) were doing in there — they were very quick, obviously, in that practice session but we were just staying focused on our job and trying to layer up. I was in the sim this morning, just using it as a practice session because it’s the first time we’ve ever had a morning free. Just putting in the time, trying to give absolutely everything and leave no stone unturned.
“That first lap was great, the second one was looking even better but just lost the back end in that last corner so my heart was in my mouth as I crossed the line, but I could see the crowd. It was really reminiscent of my first pole here in 2007 and as I said, I couldn’t have done it without these guys here (the fans), so a big, big thank you.
“I was in the factory on the sim on Tuesday and again, we had this morning free, and I was like, ‘Look, we’re not going to sit around and waste time, let’s get to it.’ So we did a practice session this morning in there and just trying to develop it, trying to give the guys as much information as possible as we’re developing the car. We’re squeezing absolutely every ounce of performance from this thing and it was holding together today, so I’m over the moon.”