With unpredictable weather pushing scattered showers overs Silverstone throughout the afternoon’s qualifying hour, it soon became clear that the teams and drivers who could react best to the changeable conditions would profit the most.
The first two qualifying sessions required a mid-session switch from Intermediate to Option tyres. Jenson immediately looked quick in the mixed conditions – however, his fastest time [a 1m39.791s, which would have placed him quickest overall] was disallowed after he ran wide over exit kerbs at the final corner.
At the end of Q3, when a light shower seemed to have ended all hopes of any improvements, the final sector dried significantly. The unexpected change of weather caught out several runners, but also provided several drivers with a last-gasp opportunity to vault to the top of the time sheets.
Both Jenson and Kevin profited from that final roll of the dice. From seventh, Jenson’s final lap put him third – his best grid position since the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix, and his best British Grand Prix starting position since qualifying second in ’05. Kevin’s first Q3 run put him ninth, but he too was able to improve, jumping to fifth.
Q1 14th 1m44.425s (on Options) Q2 4th 1m36.579s (on Options) Q3 3rd 1m38.200s (on Options)
“At the start of the session, I was really looking forward to getting out there. And, as soon as we did, we found the grip of the circuit, and I felt confident. I even did a lap in Q1 that was quickest overall, but I ran wide at the final corner in traffic, and that time was disallowed – nonetheless, I think it showed that, in difficult circumstances, we often tend make the best of things.
“On my final lap in Q3, I thought it was all over in the first sector: I made a mistake coming out of Turn Five and had a massive snap of oversteer onto the straight, but I still managed to make up the time over the rest of the lap.
“I would love there to be changeable conditions in the race tomorrow, but, realistically, if it’s dry, we’re not going to be quite as competitive as we were today. We’ll do our best to be as close to the front as possible, of course we will, but we’ll need to have a perfect race to get a decent result.
“Even so, I’m really happy to be third – in front of the my family, my friends and the British crowd – their support has been so uplifting throughout this whole event.”
Q1 8th 1m42.507s (on Options) Q2 8th 1m37.370s (on Options) Q3 5th 1m38.417s (on Options)
“It was a very tricky qualifying session. Jenson starting third is fantastic for both him and the team, but I’m satisfied with fifth.
“It was really hard to know how the track would be from lap to lap, so I was playing it relatively conservatively. Right now, I regret not pushing more – but it’s always so tricky to know how much more you can do.
“I was quite surprised by how dry it was at the end of Q3. I didn’t even think we’d need to go out at the end because it wasn’t anywhere near dry enough – but the conditions were drier than we thought.
“It’s hard to say just what we can do on Sunday. We’re in a good position for the start of the race, but, realistically, we’re out of position. Still, I’ll be giving it everything tomorrow.”
Racing director, McLaren Mercedes
“Clearly, bearing in mind our qualifying performances for recent grands prix, we're pleased with P3 and P5 today.
“Having said that, it was a topsy-turvy session, and lady luck inevitably played her part in the way things panned out.
“Even so, I want to pay tribute to the team, because the guys made all the right calls at all the right moments, and they deserve credit for that, because the decisions they had to make were both difficult and critical.
“Both our drivers performed extremely well, too, in tricky conditions which quite a few others failed to master.
“Nevertheless, we aren't going to allow ourselves to get carried away by our positive qualifying performance, because we know we're not yet where we want to be in terms of car performance.
“But undoubtedly our decent grid positions are a welcome boost - and you may be well sure that both Jenson and Kevin will therefore be doing all they can, at our home race, in front of the most enthusiastic and most knowledgeable supporters in the world, to score as many championship points as they possibly can.”