Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz qualifies on pole for British Grand Prix
SILVERSTONE, England — Carlos Sainz was fastest in the rain in Saturday’s qualifying for the British Grand Prix to claim his first career pole position in his 150th start. He edged out defending Formula 1 champion Max Verstappen, who was booed by some in the crowd at the end of the session.
« Maybe some of them don’t like me, but that’s okay, » Verstappen said. « I do not care. »
Sainz set the fastest time at the end of the third qualifying session to edge Verstappen by just 0.072 seconds. It was the seventh pole in 10 races for Ferrari this season, although Sainz’s teammate Charles Leclerc had taken the first six poles before Sainz’ surprise race.
« First pole position is always special, and especially to do it at Silverstone in the rain, » said Sainz. « I kept it cool throughout the session and towards the end I decided to push. »
Sainz narrowly missed out on what would have been his first career win at the final race in Canada, when he finished just behind Verstappen.
Leclerc will start third, ahead of Sergio Pérez in the second Red Bull.
Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton qualified fifth for his home race as Mercedes appeared to have made progress with their high-speed rebound issues. His teammate George Russell finished eighth.
As Verstappen spoke trackside after qualifying, the boos were audible for the Dutchman. Verstappen and Hamilton collided in last year’s race, Verstappen hitting the wall as Hamilton overcame a penalty to win.
The incident further heightened their often bitter rivalry in a title race eventually won by Verstappen, and turned some British fans against Verstappen. He was taken to hospital for observation after the accident and complained that Hamilton showed a lack of sportsmanship by celebrating the win while Verstappen was being medically assessed.
The build-up to this year’s race has been dominated by former champion Nelson Piquet’s use of a racial slur and homophobic language to describe Hamilton in an interview which was filmed last year after the Silverstone accident. The interview didn’t receive much attention until this week, before it returned to the track.
Hamilton and other pilots condemned Piquet. Verstappen, who is dating Piquet’s daughter Kelly, said Piquet used « very offensive » language, but added the Brazilian was also « a really nice, relaxed guy » who wasn’t racist.
Leclerc said he felt his Ferrari was « competitive » but a mistake left him out of contention for pole position.
« I knew it was the lap where I had to put everything in place and I didn’t do it as a driver so I didn’t deserve to be on pole, » he said.