LEWIS HAMILTON will start on pole at Silverstone as he looks to increase his record of six British Grand Prix wins.
The Brit did not have things all his own way as he was outpaced by Valtteri Bottas in FP3, Q1 and Q2 while SPINNING off the track.
But he pulled an incredible lap out of the bag in Q3 to set a new track record and secure pole position with another Mercedes one-two.
Follow all the latest build-up ahead of race day on Sunday…
Rise and shine, petrolheads.
It's British Grand Prix day and Lewis Hamilton is on pole – what's new? The Brit star was hugely impressive in qualifying yesterday, twice beating the track record…
He said: “Normally when I approach this weekend, there is a different feeling that is part of excitement and part nerves, knowing how many people come to this race.
“That nervousness is just really through wanting to excel and deliver for everyone because they have supported me on this incredible journey.
“I did try to keep that in mind this weekend knowing that no-one would be here and I was really just trying to remember how and reminisce and somehow get that energy and utilize it, which is not so easy.
“I cannot imagine how many people are watching and if it is the same energy at home as it is at the track, then I hope it gives people some positivity.”
HAMMING IT UP
Lewis Hamilton will pretend he's being roared on by 140,000 fans today at Silverstone for added motivation.
The behind-closed-doors event for this British GP – usually the largest race attendance of the year – has left the world champion digging for inspiration.
But at this rate he might have to magic-up some pretend rivals too, for his walk to a record-equalling seventh title is looking all so easy.
At this, one of his favourite tracks, he suffered a rare spin in qualifying, and was behind his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas until the moment it counted.
A thumping lap around this old airfield, setting a new track record in the process to take pole position.
It was the 91st pole of his career and showed that even on his off days, he is still top of the class.
IN THE NIC OF TIME
Niko Hulkenberg will start Sunday's British GP in 13th place after being thrown in the deep end.
The German was called up as a late replacement for Sergio Perez, who tested positive for COVID-19.
Hulkenberg jumped into the Racing Point cockpit and quickly got up to speed, while his teammate, Lance Stroll, qualified in sixth place.
He said: “I feel there was more potential and I didn't get everything from the table but given the circumstances, it was also very hard.
“We were so close to making it to Q3, and I'm happy with that considering I've come in from the cold this weekend.
“It's a big ask after eight months away to come back and jump into a completely different environment — and into a Formula One car I've never driven before.”
George Russell has been dumped to the back of the grid for the British GP after picking up a five-place grid penalty.
The Brit, who defied expectations to qualify in 15th place in his Williams, was then penalised for ignoring waved double-yellow warning flags.
Russell, 22, has also been given three points on his superlicence after race bosses decided he did not slow significantly after his teammate Nicholas Latifi spun off.
British GP chiefs have warned fans to keep away from Silverstone after “around 20 cars” were stopped trying to get close to the circuit today.
Police also turned away cyclists and walkers who were approaching the track trying to find a gap in the fence to see the action.
Today's race is behind closed doors as part of the measures to control the coronavirus.
There have been three positive tests – two in Hungary and Racing Point's Sergio Perez – since the season started in Austria on July 5.
“We know the car we have provided our drivers with this year isn’t optimised and it has had some difficult characteristics and for a driver that doesn’t have experience, he’s only just had over a year’s worth of Formula 1 experience, that’s a tough call.
“But the way he has handled the situation, the way he has handled the pressure has been impressive.
“And I think he just needs time and we’re doing our best to support him as much as we can and things like the experience of the race engineer he’s now working with will only compound that.”
'FOR CHRISTIANS SAKE'
Red Bull driver Christian Horner has leaped to the defence of Alex Albon.
Albon has yet to score his maiden Formula 1 podium, and has had to watch his team mate Max Verstappen take two top three finishes in the last two races.
Albon joined Red Bull midway through last season as a replacement for Pierre Gasly – who was slotted back in to Toro Rosso after his own struggles in the senior team – and Horner was asked this week if he was happy with the Thai driver, given he has so far failed to match his team mate for pace or results.
“I think there has been criticism of Alex, which in some ways has been unwarranted and unfair.
“If you look back to the first race in Austria, through strategy he was in a position to arguably win that race and was taken out by Lewis Hamilton and he finished fourth in the next race and fifth in the next race…
With Lewis Hamilton clinching pole position, Mercedes will start from the front at the British Grand Prix for an EIGHTH consecutive year – an F1 record for any track.
On today's qualifying, the Brit said: “Valtteri was pushing me right to the end. It was a real struggle out there.
“We had that spin. I was struggling through the first section. I managed to compose myself. The first Q3 lap was clean and the second was even better.
HAMILTON'S SEVENTH POLE AT SILVERSTONE
FLAG IS OUT
Hamilton is on pole, Bottas is second. Verstappen in third but a full second behind to Hamilton's pole time.
Incredible stuff form Hamilton and his Mercedes team to turn that around after being off the pace on Friday.
Bottas looked to have the better of him, but then he manages to pull it out of the bag like that.
Even a rare spin in Q2 did not put him off his stride.
HERE WERE GO…FINAL LAPS
Who has got what?
FORGET THE MERCS
Verstappen is in third but not in the same league as the Mercs.
Ferrari's best-placed car after the first runs is Leclerc, who is down in fifth place.
HAMILTON DRAWS FIRST BLOOD
The Brit sets a new track record with his first attempt.
TOP 10 SHOOT OUT
Bottas and Hamilton are both out on track. Which one will take pole?
Bottas has enjoyed the better weekend so far.
But Hamilton loves this place.
FLAG IS OUT
Q2 is done and those drivers eliminated from the top 10 shootout are Russell, who will start P14, Kvyat, Hulkenberg, Albon and Gasly.
That is another disappointment for Albon, who crashed heavily yesterday and missed a chunk of FP3 with an electrical problem.
But we know Red Bull do not tolerate failures. He must start performing better on Saturdays.
HAMILTON HAS DONE ENOUGH
A lap time that comfortably puts him into second place and that is likely to be enough to book his place in the top-10.
Those who are at risk are the two Alphatauri drivers, Russell, Ricciardo and Hulkenberg.
And Hamilton was already queueing up in the pitlane eager to get out. He needs to set a lap time to make it into Q3.
And one for Hamilton who spins at turn seven on cold tyres. He's not gone into the barriers, he's saved it.
But he has gone into the gravel and on his return to the track, tiny stones have been spread across the surface.
Session is stopped while the marshals sweep up the loose stones.
Hamilton, Bottas, Albon, Verstappen, Stroll, Hulkenberg and Leclerc all out on mediums tyres for their first Q2 runs.
That's a gamble as the soft tyres are being saved for the race. They should still have enough pace, barring any mistakes.
Q2 IS GO
The clock has started but it is a waiting game so far. All cars are poised to see who will go out first.
There is an engine fire up beneath me and that's the Red Bull garage. Albon and now Hulkenberg are on their way out.
FLAG IS OUT
And what a lap from George Russell, who makes it into Q2 with a stunning lap.
While Latifi spins out, Russell shows his class to defy the odds and make it into the top 15. Great stuff from the Brit.
Latifi, Grosjean, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi and Magnussen are OUT
LATIFI IS IN BARRIERS
The Williams man has lost control and ended up in the barriers. Already the second-slowest on track, he's had a shocker there and is out of the session.
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