Defending world champion and one-time British Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel has heaped praise on Lewis Hamilton after he stormed to pole position with a stunning lap in the dying seconds of qualifying.
Hamilton was the last of the frontrunners to post a lap in Q3, beating teammate and provisional pole-sitter Nico Rosberg by over four-tenths of a second, and third-placed Vettel could only applaud the Briton.
“I don’t know, either Lewis found a short cut or he has something special around here,” the German driver said in the post-qualifying press conference. “A phenomenal lap. I think it wasn’t in reach today.”
When talking about his own lap, Vettel seemed delighted to have qualified so closely to the Mercedes cars.
“I was very happy with the lap I had at the end. And I think it was very close with Mark as well. I think we did what we could for the team and, yeah, it’s always nice to position well in qualifying.
“Especially around here qualifying is good fun, enjoying the high-speed corners and looking forward to tomorrow, for the race. We’ll see how well we are with the tires, looking after them.”
Vettel is well-placed to claim a second British GP victory and a fourth win of the season should Mercedes encounter the same tire problems that blighted their races in Bahrain and Spain earlier this year.
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.