Lewis Hamilton recovered from a red-flagged triggering spin to claim pole for the Formula 1 British Grand Prix for the seventh time in his career.
The Englishman was untouchable in the final phase of the session while he and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas proved a second quicker than the rest of the field.
Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing) will line up third for Red Bull alongside Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) in fourth, while Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) lost his best lap to end up 10th for Sunday’s race.
It was far from a perfect qualifying session for Hamilton though after losing the rear of his car on the exit of Luffield early in Qualifying 2.
The moment left the six-time world champion spinning through the gravel, dragging much of it onto the race track in the process.
Though able to continue, Race Control hung out the red flag in order to clean up the debris scattered across the circuit.
“I made some changes going into qualifying and it was worse, so it was a real struggle out there,” Hamilton said.
“This track is awesome because with a gust of wind you have a head wind and tail win and cross wind in different parts of the circuit, so it’s like juggling balls while you’re on a moving plate at high speed.
“Obviously we had that spin which, qualifying’s all about confidence building. Damn, I had that spin and I was already down, I was already struggling through the first section every lap.
“I don’t know how but with some deep breaths managed to compose myself and Q3 started off the right way. It still wasn’t perfect, the first lap, but still a really clean lap and the second one (was) even better.”
The result marked Hamilton’s 91st career Formula 1 pole position, and his 65th for Mercedes.
In the opening phase of qualifying, George Russell (Williams) put in a late lap that saw 13th once the chequered flag had fallen.
However, officials took a look into that final flying lap amid suggestions it was set while yellow flags were shown in the dying moments of Q1, electing to pass a judgement once after the session.
That flag was for Nicholas Latifi (Williams), the incident consigning him to an exit in Q3 alongside Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo), and Romain Grosjean (Haas).
Strategies were split among teams as Q2 begun, with some opting for the medium compound tyres and others the soft.
Widely regarded as a superior race tyre, the medium tyre gave up in the region of a second over the red-walled tyres preferred by the likes of Vettel.
His Ferrari team-mate had opted to take a set of mediums for his first run, as had all of those expected to be towards the front of the field come Sunday; both Mercedes and Red Bulls.
Hamilton’s uncharacteristic spin at Luffield midway around his first flying lap dragged gravel onto the circuit and drawing a red flag.
The interruption and lack of representative lap posed a headache for the world championship leader who was faced with the quandary of using another set of mediums to match his rivals at the start of the race against the need to set a time in an effort to progress to the next phase of qualifying.
The Englishman headed out of the garage as the session restarted with a new set of mediums fitted, the Silverstone circuit to himself as be begun his flying lap.
He banked a 1:25.347, a time 0.3s slower than team-mate Bottas had managed prior to the stoppage but enough to ensure he would progress to the final part of qualifying.
The final flurry as the chequered flag fell on Q2 saw Alex Albon (Red Bull) and Nico Hulkenberg (Racing Point) eliminated, finishing the session 12th and 13th respectively.
Lance Stroll and Pierre Gasly ended with equal times to three decimal places, the Racing Point setting the time first and therefore progressing while the AlphaTauri did not.
Daniil Kvyat in the sister AlphaTauri was also eliminated, as was Russell for Williams.
Lando Norris (McLaren) was the first to set a time in Q3, though his 1:26.456s stood at the top of the timesheets for mere seconds before Hamilton recorded a 1:24.616 to move into provisional pole.
Bottas was unable to match his team-mate on his first attempt, 0.150s off the outright pace.
The Mercedes duo were more than a second clear of the field, headed by Verstappen in third and Stroll fourth.
A mistake from Stroll early in his final flying cost him a quarter of a second in the first sector, the Canadian unable to improve on his earlier effort.
Behind him on track others were finding time, including Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) who went quicker than he’d managed earlier across the first two third of the lap.
The Renault driver moved from 10th to fifth as a result, two places up from Ocon in the second car.
Between them was Leclerc who climbed to third for Ferrari while Vettel could muster only 10th courtesy of losing his fastest time for track limits.
Though already on provisional pole, Hamilton improved as the flag waved to record a 1:24.303, a time which proved a 0.3 faster than Bottas’ own improved best.
Red Bull and Ferrari will share the second row with Verstappen ahead of Leclerc while Ricciardo ended the day with the eighth fastest time, two tenths up on team-mate Ocon, the Renault duo trailing Norris in fifth, Stroll sixth, and Carlos Sainz in sixth.
Sunday’s 52-lap British Grand Prix is set to begin at 23:10 AEST.
Formula 1 British Grand Prix, Qualifying
|3||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||1:26.115||1:26.144||1:25.325||15|
|6||18||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||1:26.243||1:26.501||1:25.839||20|
|12||23||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing||1:26.565||1:26.545||11|
|13||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Racing Point||1:26.327||1:26.566||14|
|17||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1:27.164||9|
|18||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo||1:27.366||9|