Lewis Hamilton finished half a second clear of his nearest challenger
Hamilton, who is 20 points behind leader Sebastian Vettel in the championship race, blew away the field to finish more than half a second clear of his nearest challenger.
His moment of magic was left hanging in the balance after he was alleged to have blocked Romain Grosjean at turn 15. But the stewards took no further action, to leave Hamilton just one pole shy of Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 68. The Briton will have Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen for company on the front row, with Vettel only third.
Hamilton’s preparations for the 10th round of his stuttering championship charge have been dampened by the criticism he courted for failing to attend a promotional event in London earlier this week.
Lewis Hamilton has been on a charm offensive with the Silverstone crowd
I’ve been really privileged over the past 10 years to come here and receive that love
But, in Hamilton’s mind at least, he will now feel his two-day holiday to the Greek island of Mykonos has been vindicated after he completed one half of his mission to claim a fourth consecutive win at Silverstone.
The Mercedes driver finished well clear of Raikkonen and was an eye-watering three-quarters of a second faster than Vettel.
Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate, qualified fourth but will start ninth after serving a five-place grid drop for a gearbox change.
Hamilton, who has been on a charm offensive with the home fans after swerving the London parade, said: “I grew up watching TV and I remember seeing Nigel Mansell with the support and thinking, ‘Wow, I wonder what that feels like having all that focus and attention and support pointing into me’.
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“I’ve been really privileged over the past 10 years to come here and receive that love. It really is so energising. Nigel mentioned it years ago. He said it gives you a second, maybe it’s half a second, but it definitely feels like it gives you something.
“You carry that energy and I think that applies to life in general. If you are feeling positive on a day, your day just goes a lot better.”
Vettel was on his best behaviour at the last round in Austria, well aware that any petulance would see him slapped with three points on his superlicence and a subsequent Silverstone ban.
But there was a glimpse of the old, fiery German here after he complained he had been blocked by the Force India car of Sergio Perez.
“What the hell is Perez doing?” Vettel shouted.
He then expressed his anger over the team radio after he felt traffic had scuppered his final run.
Elsewhere, Fernando Alonso topped the order in Q1 – the opening phase of qualifying – after bolting on a set of dry tyres and blitzing this 3.6-mile circuit as the track began to dry out following an earlier sprinkling of rain.
But the Spaniard’s efforts were meaningless, knowing he already faced a mammoth 30-place grid penalty following further changes to his engine.