Lewis Hamilton delighted his home fans by taking provisional pole position for the British Grand Prix, going fastest on a 1:26.600, although there is still the question of a possible penalty for the Brit after he apparently impeded Romain Grosjean's Haas. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was second quickest, knocking his team-mate Sebastian Vettel from the front row, and Valtteri Bottas - who will start from ninth following a five-place penalty - was fourth.
Max Verstappen had to settle for fifth in his Red Bull, and will line up ahead of Renault's Nico Hulkenberg after a brilliant session from the German. Sergio Perez will lead Esteban Ocon as the Force Indias line up seventh and eighth, and Stoffel Vandoorne and the aforementioned Grosjean will complete the top ten.
Qualifying got underway in the same wet conditions that plagued the end of FP3, and Max Verstappen was the first man to take to the greasy circuit in his Red Bull. He was followed by team-mate Daniel Ricciardo and several cars thereafter, eager to record laps while they could. He set the initial pace, only for Ricciardo to go two-hundredths quicker. Nico Hulkenberg, who performs well in wet weather, popped between the Bulls, and a mistake compromised Kimi Raikkonen's first run, putting him fifth.
Sebastian Vettel slotted into fourth, a second behind Ricciardo, as Hamilton became another driver to run wide. Carlos Sainz shot up into a brilliant fifth as Ricciardo stopped on track with a turbo issue, bringing out the yellow flags. With ten minutes to go, the yellows changed to reds, bringing the session to a temporary end. It restarted at 13:12 local time, and several drivers ventured out quickly as the drizzle continued.
Vettel soon put himself into the lead at the front, with a lap that was 1.2 seconds quicker than Hamilton's best. Verstappen bettered this with two minutes to go, and even Hamilton could not usurp him, settling for second.
Hulkenberg dethroned Bottas from third on another impressive lap - but the biggest surprise was saved for the very end, as a last-gasp lap from Fernando Alonso put his McLaren-Honda top of the timesheets. It was greeted with applause from the crowds, who reacted delightfully in spite of the Spaniard's thirty-place grid penalty.
Drivers out in Q1: Stroll, Magnussen, Wehrlein, Ericsson and Ricciardo
The second qualifying session started on a rapidly drying track, with conditions not quite at optimum level but more than dry enough for slick tyres, with conditions set to improve as the session went on.
Interestingly Valtteri Bottas went out on soft tyres, contrary to the rest of the field on the super softs, presumably to give the Mercedes driver options for tomorrow's race following his five-place grid penalty.
The first laps for all the drivers seemed to improve as the track conditions improved, with Nico Hulkenberg putting his Renault fastest for a time. Such were the nature of the track conditions that everyone improved on their second laps, with it being almost dry by the time everybody had pitted for fresh tyres.
The end of the session was predictably frantic, with all the drivers knowing that the last lap would probably be their quickest of the session. Both Ferraris initially impressed, putting their cars to the top of standings with around 30 seconds to go, but the Mercedes’ usurped them by a second with their final laps, seemingly a long way ahead of the Ferraris in the improving conditions.
The lower end of the top ten was constantly changing at the end of the session, with Stoffel Vandoorne particularly impressing with his final lap, getting into Q3 and out qualifying Alonso for the first time this season. Hulkenberg maintained his good form, setting a lap good enough for fifth in the session.
Drivers out in Q2: Palmer, Kvyat, Alonso, Sainz and Massa
The pole position shootout saw a flurry of cars emerge immediately from the pit lane as it opened. Bottas and Hamilton were first to throw down the gauntlet, and it was the Brit who was marginally faster than his team-mate. Vettel jumped into second with his first lap as Raikkonen slipped in behind Bottas in fourth. Verstappen was fifth, initially failing to make progress on his rivals.
With three minutes to go and after a period in their garages, the drivers set off again to begin their final runs. The excitement built around the circuit as Hamilton approached his lap; it was Bottas who started one first, although the home hero was quicker by some four-tenths and he duly took provisional pole with a 1.26:600. Raikkonen and Vettel were second and third on the line, with the Finn outqualifying the German at Silverstone yet again as the Prancing Horses demoted Bottas, with his grid penalty, to fourth.
Mason Hawker and Sam Gale