Getty Images

F1 Paddock Pass: British GP Friday Edition (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

Another special Friday edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass comes to you today from the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Valtteri Bottas led both first and second practice sessions on Friday, but unfortunately for him the Mercedes driver required an unscheduled gearbox change. Like teammate Lewis Hamilton in Austria last week, it comes with a five-spot grid penalty and takes him out of pole contention in advance of qualifying.

This bit of news followed the two sessions and the team member press conference, as NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton catches up with a number of people on the Friday.

Those present today for the FIA press conference were Christian Horner (Red Bull), Vijay Mallya (Force India), and Claire Williams (Williams) in the first part, and then Cyril Abiteboul (Renault), Andy Cowell (Mercedes) and Jonathan Neale (McLaren) in the second part.

In case you missed Thursday’s edition or want to see it again, it’s linked here.

Valtteri Bottas on Silverstone pole; Nico Hulkenberg a surprising third

F1 Bottas Hamilton Silverstone
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Valtteri Bottas nipped Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in Silverstone qualifying Saturday to maintain the team’s hammerlock on F1 results this season while Nico Hulkenberg was a surprise in third.

Hulkenberg is filling in for Sergio Perez for the second consecutive race while the Racing Point driver recovers from coronavirus.

It’s the best F1 start since 2016 for Hulkenberg, who was left without a full-time ride after the 2019 season. He finished 20th at Silverstone last week when an engine problem on the grid prevented him ftaking the green.

FERNANDO IS HERE: Alonso arrives for Indy 500

“The last seven to eight days have been crazy,” Hulkenberg said after qualifying. “This weekend I felt much better prepared. Q3 was just head down, full beans, and give it whatever I had.

“I’m a bit surprised to be standing here, but there’s a big smile on my face.”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified fourth and will be among the field trying to derail the Mercedes duo that has won the first four races of an F1 season delayed because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Feels good,” Bottas said after nipping Hamilton by a few hundredths of a second on his final lap for his 13th career pole position. ” I just love qualifying especially, when it goes well. Proud to drive this car. The race pace is there, so our first job is to get a good start off the line tomorrow and go from there.”

The impressive lap came two days after Bottas, who won the season opener in Austria, announced a one-year contract extension with the team.

Mercedes also is set to begin negotiating a new deal with Hamilton, who has won the past three races in F1 but was disappointed Saturday.

“Valtteri did a great job, but for me, it wasn’t a perfect last lap,” he said. “I don’t think many teams will be doing a one-stop race tomorrow so let’s wait and see how things turn out.”