The 27-year-old Spaniard will start ahead of world champion and series leader Max Verstappen in his Red Bull.
Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz celebrates after setting the fastest time during the British GP qualifying session at Silverstone Circuit on Saturday. PA
Silverstone: Carlos Sainz took his first pole position on Saturday by beating world champion Max Verstappen, who survived a spin in a thrilling wet qualifying for the British Grand Prix.
The 27-year-old Spaniard set a best lap of one minute and 40.983 seconds to beat the Red Bull driver by 0.072 seconds in the final minute of a tense session in dangerous wet conditions.
His first pole preceded what will be his 150th Grand Prix start in Sunday’s race, just two weeks after coming very close to the Dutchman in a thrilling finish at the Canadian Grand Prix.
In a topsy-turvy session that saw positions change quickly in the changing conditions, Charles Leclerc finished third in second-placed Ferrari ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and seven-time home champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes.
After promising to fight for the front row, it was a disappointment for home fans as Hamilton failed to extend their run of eight British starts at the top tier.
Lando Norris finished sixth for McLaren ahead of two-time champion Fernando Alonso of Alpine, George Russell in second Mercedes, Zhou Guanyu of Alfa Romeo and Nicholas Latifi of Williams.
“I did a lap that I thought was nothing special, but it was on the board to see how it was – and it was pole position which was a little surprise!” Sainz said.
“I struggled a lot with the standing water. There was a lot more standing water on the racing line and it was very easy to get snaps and lose the lap.”
He jokingly added that as a Spaniard he was not used to racing in wet British conditions.
Verstappen, who was briefly booed by part of the crowd, said: “It was tricky — it was raining and drying, so you had to be on the track at the right time. The car was running well, but it was a bit difficult.” a lottery.”
Leclerc, winner of six poles this year, said: “I’m happy for Carlos. He did a great job. I spun on the last lap, the lap where you have to put everything in place, and I didn’t I didn’t. So I didn’t deserve to be on pole.”
Wet and windy
The session started in wet and windy conditions with enough rain to persuade the teams to run on intermediate wet tyres, with Leclerc quickly setting the pace for Ferrari.
An early spin from Valtteri Bottas briefly brought out the yellow flags before the steady rain began to subside and the circuit began to dry out quickly.
To the delight of many British fans, Russell was on top, before Verstappen emerged to demonstrate his current supremacy in all conditions.
The opening session ended in another nightmare for the Silverstone-based Aston Martin team, whose headquarters are a short walk from the circuit.
Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, 18th, and Lance Stroll, 20th, were eliminated with the two Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen, 17th, and Mick Schumacher 19th, and Alex Albon, 16th, in his heavily revised Williams.
At the top, Verstappen led the way ahead of Leclerc and Russell.
The rain continued into the second quarter with high plumes of spray making it difficult to see as Hamilton struggled.
In short, the Chinese driver Zhou took the Alfa Romeo lead for a few seconds before Alonso, Perez and the Red Bulls established the normal order and Hamilton took second.
That left Nicholas Latifi hanging on for 10th place and a possible top ten penalty shootout appearance for Williams, equaling his previous record at last year’s wet Belgian Grand Prix where he was placed ninth.
It was then Verstappen again ahead of Leclerc, Russell, Sainz and Hamilton, who was looking to add to his record of seven Silverstone poles and five in the last eight years.
At the start of Q3 the rain subsided with a warning that it would return, but the track remained slippery – proven when Verstappen spun and recovered on Hangar Straight, to gasps from the crowd.
With six minutes to go, Alonso moved into the lead only to be quickly usurped by Leclerc and then Verstappen while Hamilton moved into second as the track began to dry out three minutes from time.
It set up a thrilling finale as the drivers were slow to exploit the conditions with an “as late as possible” lap – a scenario in which Sainz reveled in a pole-position finale.
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