<
>

Fernando Alonso wows Silverstone crowd ahead of Lewis Hamilton's main event

ESPN rounds up the main talking points from qualifying for the British Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton claimed provisional pole position ahead of the Ferrari drivers.

Shock: Fernando Alonso topping Q1 prompted cheers and applause in the Silverstone media centre and grandstands. The Spaniard had made a late gamble for slick tyres as the rain eased off in the closing minutes, but appeared to have left himself too much to do with around 1:40m to go as he left the pit lane.

However, the mother of all out-laps followed and Alonso crossed the line with a fraction of a second left and set about setting personal best sectors. As the last man to start his lap he was the last to cross the line, leaping from 20th to 1st in the process. A hefty grid penalty awaits him on Sunday so it is unlikely his weekend will get much more exciting than that.

Shocker: Red Bull's reliability issues continued in Q1, but this time the bad luck shifted to Daniel Ricciardo's car instead of Max Verstappen's. With the Australian already facing a five-place grid penalty his weekend prospects suffered another blow when he pulled over to the side of the road, later suggesting his turbo had failed.

Star of qualifying: Nico Hulkenberg was on great form all afternoon. Well ahead of teammate Jolyon Palmer throughout, he then pipped both Force Indias to qualify sixth. With at least one penalty to come ahead of him, he will start even higher.

But another man, in the circumstances, deserves this accolade. Stoffel Vandoorne had not out-qualified either Fernando Alonso or Jenson Button (in Monaco) this year coming into the session but managed to edge himself into the top-ten shootout as the track continued to dry. Alonso hit traffic, preventing him from setting a representative lap time of his own, but Vandoorne's performance will be an importance confidence boost for a man who has so far been unable to live up to the incredible hype his history-making GP2 championship win created.

Home-town hero: He might yet lose the pole position in the stewards' room, but its clear Hamilton gets a special lift competing at Silverstone. This has been his happiest stomping ground in recent seasons and he was a class above the rest in Q3, pulling out a 0.5s gap on the Ferraris when they had appeared much closer than expected earlier in the session.

First corner watch: This is all subject to the impending stewards' investigation. Hamilton will hope to be leading into the first corners with the Ferraris behind him, while Max Verstappen could cause the front-runners some issues with his aggressive start. Valtteri Bottas will drop down the grid but start on the soft compound tyre, which could give him an advantage later in the race if he gets through the opening laps cleanly. Rain, of course, would change everything...