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George Russell says taking British Grand Prix pole ‘one of the best feelings’

George Russell hailed the best Saturday of his life after leading Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris in a stunning British one-two-three in qualifying at Silverstone.

Fifty-six years have passed since three Britons started a Formula One race from the front of field. On New Year’s Day in 1968, Jim Clark, Graham Hill and Sir Jackie Stewart occupied the top three grid spots for the South African Grand Prix.

The last time three British drivers began their home race at the front was six years previously at Aintree, when Clark started ahead of John Surtees and Innes Ireland.

Here on Sunday, 160,000 expectant fans will gather at this Northamptonshire venue – built on the site of a World War II Royal Air Force bomber station – to witness a modern-age Battle of Britain. Max Verstappen leads the supporting cast from fourth.

The build-up to the sport’s third round in as many weeks has been dominated by Norris’ late collision with Verstappen as they duelled for the lead in Austria six days ago.

Russell took advantage of the coming together to claim just his second career win, and the 26-year-old was back on top at a wet-dry Silverstone.

Russell held a mere six-thousandths advantage over McLaren’s Norris heading into the final runs, only to see Hamilton suddenly charge to the top of the order.

But Russell denied the seven-time world champion his first pole since the Hungarian Grand Prix last year by moving 0.171 sec clear. Norris failed to improve with his last lap after he ran wide at Stowe, finishing 0.211 sec back.

“This is definitely one of the best feelings I’ve ever had on a Saturday afternoon,” said a jubilant Russell.

“The car was just insane, and without doubt one of the best feelings I’ve ever had on this circuit. Crossing the line and seeing my name in first place was just amazing.

“There’s no guarantees for tomorrow but we really feel like we’re riding this wave at the moment.

“The crowd gave us so much energy, and I don’t think Silverstone could’ve dreamt of having three Brits in the top three.”

Asked by a French journalist why the British drivers are “so good”, Hamilton replied: “Roast dinners.” Norris, sharing the same sofa as the seven-time world champion, said: “I don’t have roast dinners. Maybe that is why I am not on pole!”

Following their underwhelming start to the season, Mercedes would not have dreamt of locking out the front row at what is effectively their home race given their factory is just down the road in Brackley.

The last time Mercedes started first and second via qualifying – rather than as a result of a sprint race – was in Saudi Arabia 945 days ago. Hamilton converted his pole to a win in Jeddah – the scene of his 103rd and last victory.

Max Verstappen during qualifying
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen had a difficult qualifying session (Andrew Matthews/PA)

And while Russell and Norris will be bidding to land their first wins on home soil, Hamilton has won a record eight times at Silverstone, finishing on the podium at every race here since 2014.

The 39-year-old hopes his experience gives him an edge on Sunday, when inclement weather is expected.

“All experiences definitely help, and when it rains those are the conditions I am most comfortable in, but these two are driving very well so I don’t think it will make a difference,” he replied.

Red Bull have dominated the sport for the past two-and-a-half years but their supremacy appears as though it is finally coming to an end.

Verstappen only snuck through to Q2 after he ran through the gravel at Copse – the same corner where Hamilton punted him out of the race in 2021.

The crowd cheered Verstappen’s off-road excursion but the Dutchman was able to recover back to the track before hauling his Red Bull safely up the order.

However, he was a distant 0.384 sec behind Russell in the end.

“I’ll do my best tomorrow to have a good fight with them,” said Verstappen, 81 points clear of Norris. “Today wasn’t our day with Q1 being unlucky but tomorrow we have a good battle. Naturally I know the top three all want to win.”