Lewis Hamilton has long been considered perhaps the most talented driver in Formula One, even above the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. Today in qualifying for the British Grand Prix, he showed why. Hamilton took pole position for tomorrow’s race by almost half a second from his team-mate Nico Rosberg.
Hamilton’s been struggling this season at Mercedes. It’s not obvious to the casual observer, because Hamilton has finished on the podium three times and is currently fourth in the Drivers’ Championship. But he has been struggling to get comfortable in the car, particularly under braking, where confidence is so crucial for a good lap time. This weekend, he has complained publicly of not being comfortable in the car, but has nonetheless been quick in every session.
Today, however, everything finally came together for the 2008 World Champion, and he showed his speed, taking pole position with a stunning lap that included fastest times in each of the three sectors of the lap. He was faster than everyone else, everywhere. That is unusual. Normally the pole-sitter will be quickest in at least one sector, and perhaps two, but to be fastest all the way round the lap is rare.
Unfortunately for Hamilton, tomorrow’s race is likely to go rather differently to qualifying. Mercedes have been struggling with tyre degradation all season, and there is no particular reason to believe that their problems will magically disappear by tomorrow. Close behind are the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, who have also had tyre-wear issues but not to nearly the extent of Mercedes.
If his tyres hold together, there is no doubt that Hamilton can challenge for victory at Silverstone tomorrow. He has shown his speed today and he’s demonstrated before that he knows how to win. The deciding factor will be the tyres. But even if he doesn’t win tomorrow, Hamilton has given the F1 community a special treat today: a qualifying lap worthy of the special talent that he is.