70th Anniversary GP Qualifying: Valtteri Bottas beats Lewis Hamilton to pole
Bottas edges Hamilton by 0.063s to seal much-needed pole; Racing Point stand-in Hulkenberg third ahead of Verstappen; Vettel misses Q3 for Ferrari; Watch Sunday's race at 2.10pm on Sky Sports F1
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 09/08/20 6:43pm
Valtteri Bottas snatched pole position from Lewis Hamilton with a superb final lap as the Finn wrestled back some much-needed title momentum ahead of F1's 70th Anniversary GP, while Racing Point's stand-in Nico Hulkenberg was a shock third.
In an all-Mercedes battle, Hamilton and Bottas traded fastest times throughout the hour-long qualifying session but just as it seemed the six-time world champion was destined for an eighth Silverstone pole, his team-mate stormed through in Q3's closing moments.
Bottas set the pace with a 1:25.154, just six hundredths of a second ahead of Hamilton, who won last weekend's British GP at the same track to open up a 30-point title lead.
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"I just love qualifying and especially when it goes well it's a good feeling," said Bottas. "Nice to get everything out of myself and out of the car."
Hamilton added: "I wasn't that great! But Valtteri did a good job and deserved the pole I guess. For me, it wasn't a perfect last lap."
But the biggest surprise, and arguably best performance of qualifying, was provided by Hulkenberg in the Racing Point.
The German, competing in just his second qualifying in the car as a temporary replacement for Sergio Perez, finished as Mercedes' closest rival, sealing a sensational third on the grid.
Hulkenberg, whose pace won't do much to detract Racing Point's critics on a hugely controversial weekend off-track, even beat the in-form Max Verstappen in the Red Bull, with the Dutchman struggling for one-lap pace and finishing more than a second slower than Bottas.
Alex Albon was only ninth in the other RB16.
Daniel Ricciardo impressed again for Renault to lead the third row, while there was also another notable Silverstone performance from Pierre Gasly, who will start Sunday's race in seventh for AlphaTauri.
One man missing from that top-10 battle completely was Sebastian Vettel, whose miserable fortnight continued.
The German has been struggling in the Ferrari ever since the F1 circus rolled in to Silverstone, and qualified down in 12th on Saturday.
Carlos Sainz also missed out, with McLaren failing to get both cars into the final shootout for the first time this season.
70th Anniversary GP Qualifying result
1. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
3. Nico Hulkenberg, Racing Point
4. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
5. Daniel Ricciardo, Renault
6. Lance Stroll, Racing Point
7. Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
8. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
9. Alex Albon, Red Bull
10. Lando Norris, McLaren
Bottas and Hulkenberg the qualifying stars
After a cruel late puncture cost him 18 points at Silverstone last weekend, pole for Bottas was crucial here for the second leg of the back-to-back. But it didn't look like it was going to come his way.
Hamilton had provisional pole by a tenth, and then improved on his final lap. When that happens, the Englishman - who has 91 poles - is rarely beaten.
Beaten he was by Bottas, who was animated on team radio after his decisive lap.
Surely, though, the star of qualifying was Hulkenberg.
Hulkenberg had never driven this Racing Point car before July 31, but eight days later produced his best Saturday result since 2016. The man who famously has never had a podium in 177 race starts, now has a great chance on Sunday.
His speed at such short notice doesn't do much for Lance Stroll's stock, with the Canadian only sixth in the other Racing Point.
Verstappen will certainly be a threat, particularly as he opted for a different strategy to his rivals by opting for the hardest of the three tyres available in Q2, and thus ensuring he will start the race on that harder rubber.
Further back, Romain Grosjean and George Russell both impressed to make it through to Q2 - with the latter ensuring his 100% record in qualifying in terms of out-pacing his Williams team-mates.
He did so despite being blocked by Esteban Ocon in Q1, with the Renault driver - who qualified for 11th - handed a three-place grid penalty for the incident.
Sunday's race starts at 2.10pm on Sky Sports F1 on Sunday, with build-up from 12.30pm.
70th Anniversary GP Qualifying Timesheet
|1) Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1:25.154|
|2) Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+0.063|
|3) Nico Hulkenberg||Racing Point||+0.928|
|4) Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+1.022|
|5) Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||+1.143|
|6) Lance Stroll||Racing Point||+1.274|
|7) Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+1.380|
|8) Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+1.460|
|9) Alexander Albon||Red Bull||+1.515|
|10) Lando Norris||McLaren||+1.624|
|Knocked out in Q2|
|11) Esteban Ocon||Renault||1:27.011|
|12) Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||1:27.078|
|13) Carlos Sainz||McLaren||1:27.083|
|14) Romain Grosjean||Haas||1:27.254|
|15) George Russell||Williams||1:27.455|
|Knocked out in Q1|
|16) Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri||1:27.882|
|17) Kevin Magnussen||Haas||1:28.236|
|18) Nicholas Latifi||Williams||1:28.430|
|19) Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1:28.433|
|20) Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||1:28.493|