Russell 'riding a wave' as British drivers storm Silverstone

George Russell takes British Grand Prix pole on a memorable day for the home drivers (BENJAMIN CREMEL)
George Russell takes British Grand Prix pole on a memorable day for the home drivers (BENJAMIN CREMEL)

George Russell said he was "riding a wave" on Saturday when he secured pole position ahead of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton and compatriot Lando Norris of McLaren in a British one-two-three ahead of Sunday’s British Grand Prix.

Fuelled by energy from the noisy home crowd after a thrilling finish to a tense qualifying session run in changing conditions after a rainswept morning, the 26-year-old Mercedes driver paid tribute to the fans and his team after claiming his second pole of the season and third of his career.

"What a feeling!" he said as the spectators began a celebratory party.

"At the start of the year, I don't think we could have dreamt of being on pole here with a one-two for me and Lewis – and with Lando. It's just mega.

"It's down to these fans. They give us so much energy, for all three of us. I don’t think Silverstone could have dreamt of three Britons in the top three!

"The car at the moment is feeling so good. The team has done so much work.  It has really come alive in ‘quali’ and it’s a joy to drive around this circuit. We are riding this wave at the moment and I am absolutely buzzing.

"But eyes on tomorrow! We’ve got a race to win and it’s going to be tight with Lando and Max is going to be fast as well."

Hamilton, who missed pole by 0.171 seconds, also praised the crowd and congratulated Russell.

"He did an amazing job," he said. "We definitely didn’t expect to be front row this weekend, but this is huge for us. The car felt fantastic and everyone in our team really deserves this."

He added that he felt Russell had found time on his final lap that he had 'left on the table’.

"But I feel really confident about the car and in the conditions we have to work together to keep Lando behind us."

Norris, who had been fastest in both sessions on Friday, said: "I’m happy with P3, three Brits locking out the top three – so that's pretty cool. George and Lewis put in some nice laps and there was a little mistake on my part.

"It’s going to be a good race. We’re quick, I can bring the fight to George and Lewis, so I am excited."

It was the first time three British drivers had taken the top three places in qualifying at their home race and the first British triple top in qualifying at any race since the 1968 South African Grand Prix when Jim Clarke headed Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart.

Russell took pole with a best lap in one minute and 25.819 seconds to beat seven-time champion Hamilton by 0.171 seconds in the final minute as the track improved.

The British trio left series leader and three-time champion Max Verstappen to qualify fourth in his slightly damaged Red Bull following an off through a gravel trap that affected the floor of his car.

- Luckless Perez -

Oscar Piastri was fifth in the second McLaren ahead of Nico Hulkenberg of Haas, Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, Lance Stroll of Aston Martin, Alex Albon of Williams and two-time champion Fernando Alonso in the second Aston Martin.

"We did what we could and we are still in the fight," said Verstappen, who thanked his team for their attempts to repair the damage to his car after running through the gravel trap at Copse.

"Without that, I think we could have fought for pole."

It was a day to forget again for two of the leading drivers with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc qualifying only 11th and luckless Sergio Perez sliding out of Q1.

He was classified 19th, the third time in five races that he failed to make it into Q2, heaping more pressure on Red Bull as they seek to maintain their fight for the constructors’ world championship.