British GP: Valtteri Bottas on pole ahead of Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc
Bottas 0.006s ahead of Hamilton, Leclerc within a tenth in third; Vettel only sixth; Ferrari opt for different race tyre strategy to rivals; Watch Silverstone showpiece at 2.10pm on Sky F1 on Sunday
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 13/07/19 8:03pm
Valtteri Bottas beat Lewis Hamilton to British GP pole by six-thousandths of a second, with Charles Leclerc just behind in an extremely close and tense Silverstone qualifying.
All three drivers were in contention in the thrilling closing stages, but in the end it was Bottas who hung on despite not improving on his final Q3 lap. - and his lap record 1:25.093 was enough for his first pole at his Mercedes team-mate's home race.
Hamilton made a mistake on his first run and agonisingly missed out on a fifth straight Silverstone pole with his last effort.
"Ultimately not good enough," said the championship leader, who hopes to make history with a sixth British GP victory on Sunday.
Leclerc was lightning quick for Ferrari and looked primed to snatch pole after a stonking start to his final lap, but eventually finished 0.079s behind Bottas.
But while Leclerc took the fight to Mercedes throughout qualifying, Sebastian Vettel was some way off the pace - finishing 0.6s down in sixth.
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Both Red Bulls will start Sunday's race ahead of Vettel, with Max Verstappen, just 0.183s off pole, beating a resurgent Pierre Gasly to secure a second-row grid slot behind Leclerc.
Daniel Ricciardo produced a much-needed performance for Renault as he qualified seventh, with Lando Norris - the sole McLaren in Q3 after Carlos Sainz surprisingly missed out - within a tenth back in eighth.
Alex Albon, another young rookie, impressed in ninth, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg.
British GP qualifying result
1. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
3. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
4. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
5. Pierre Gasly, Red Bull
6. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
7. Daniel Ricciardo, Renault
8. Lando Norris, McLaren
9. Alex Albon, Toro Rosso
10. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault
Mercedes edge out Ferrari, who make bold strategy call
Mercedes came into Saturday as heavy pole favourites considering their F1 2019, and Silverstone, form - but Ferrari, off the pace at the start of the weekend, upped the ante by topping final practice and that form continued in the early stages of qualifying.
Leclerc was just behind Hamilton in Q1 and was the fastest man in Q2.
But when it comes to the final shootout, securing a 'banker' first lap is key and Bottas was the only pole-contender who managed that as both Leclerc, who was 0.6s down after his first effort, and Hamilton made errors.
Hamilton's was certainly uncharacteristic, running wide under-braking at Brooklands and finishing that first lap a couple of tenths down.
Leclerc produced a mighty final lap while Hamilton also improved, but an evidently disappointed home favourite still had to settle for a front-row grid slot behind his team-mate, who he leads by 31 points in the championship.
The 0.006s margin meant it was the closest qualifying since the 2010 German GP.
"It's a difficult track to beat Lewis, everyone knows that, he knows it, I know it," Bottas told Sky F1. "That's what makes it quite special."
Ferrari, meanwhile, made a surprising strategy call in qualifying by opting for soft tyres in Q2, which means both Leclerc and Vettel will start Sunday's race on that compound - a repeat from Austria.
Mercedes and Red Bull, on the other hand, selected the mediums - slower over one lap but more durable in the race.
"It's different, but it will spice things up tomorrow," said Red Bull boss Christian Horner about Ferrari's strategy. The race starts at 2.10pm on Sky Sports F1.
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