By Alan Baldwin
Lewis Hamilton stormed to pole position for his home British Formula One Grand Prix on Saturday with German team mate Nico Rosberg qualifying alongside him in an all-Mercedes front row.
The 2008 world champion, chasing his first win for Mercedes after leaving McLaren last year, started the session with a wave for the crowd from the pit wall and ended it with the fans saluting him.
“Storming job there, Lewis, storming job,” the team told him over the radio.
The pole was the 28th of Hamilton’s career and Mercedes’ fifth in eight races.
“The crowd do make a huge difference…I come here with an extra boost of energy. I just want to pay them back,” said Hamilton, who also qualified on pole at Silverstone in his debut 2007 season and won in 2008.
“That was a lap for them,” said the Briton, who jumped out of his car after parking up in the pit lane and stood arms outstretched to applause from the grandstands.
Red Bull’s triple world champion Sebastian Vettel qualified third and will share the second row with team mate Mark Webber, in what will be the Australian’s last British race before quitting Formula One at the end of the year.
“They are bloody quick in qualifying…they seem to be in a different world on Saturday afternoons,” said Vettel. “But points are scored on Sunday and the last few races have been pretty good for us.”
Britain’s Paul Di Resta for Force India and young Australian Daniel Ricciardo, the Toro Rosso driver bidding for Webber’s drive next year, will line up together on the third row.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, 36 points behind Vettel in the championship, qualified 10th in a disappointing performance from the Italian team, who had Brazilian Felipe Massa in 12th place.
“We were not competitive all weekend and it’s not normal to see Ferrari out of Q3 (the third phase of qualifying),” said the Spaniard.
“We need to recover now and it was a bad Saturday. We didn’t improve the car enough in the last four to five races and we ordered some new parts but they didn’t do what we expected. We need to keep on working.”
McLaren had another miserable qualifying, with 2009 world champion Jenson Button 11th on the grid and Mexican team mate Sergio Perez 14th.
Former champions Williams, who have made their home race a celebration of their 600 grands prix in the sport, fared even more dismally.
Finland’s Valtteri Bottas failed to make it through the first phase and qualified 17th behind Venezuelan team mate Pastor Maldonado in 16th.