British hopes were high this weekend, not only at Wimbledon, but also at Silverstone where the annual British Grand Prix is taking place. However those hopes were somewhat dampened on a typically wet and rainy British summer day. Lewis Hamilton will be the Briton closest to the front of the grid in eighth place while Paul Di Resta and Jenson Button start in 10th and 16th respectively.
Today was all about the old guard as out of the rain clouds emerged a top three with an average age of 36. Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher took third place and two-time champion Fernando Alonso claimed pole position by 0.047 seconds ahead of Australian Mark Webber who completes the front row. The poor weather played into the hands of veteran Schumacher who gave himself hope of another top-three finish to follow his first podium since his come-back in Valencia two weeks ago.
The 43-year-old is hoping for a wet race and acknowledged this when he said: "I think we look reasonably competitive in wet conditions, either on inters or full wet, so therefore rain is welcome tomorrow. But it was a bit of an exciting session today, particularly Q2. I'm happy with third - good work by the boys."
Webber will be confident in his Red Bull which is always competitive, no matter the weather. Last year he finished third, but this year is hoping to reach the top of the podium: "I am very happy with my lap and ultimately we’re in a good position to start the race tomorrow."
Last year's winner, Fernando Alonso, produced an imperious lap to pip Webber to top spot and seal a first pole since Singapore in 2010. The Spaniard recognised that he had needed a 'bit of luck' to be starting from the front, but that there is a lot more hard work to be done tomorrow: “I’m happy to be on pole after nearly two years,” he reflected. “In these conditions the qualifying is probably the least important of the year but obviously for visibility it is always better to be on pole.” Alonso is the only multiple winner of this season so far and will go into tomorrow's race as favourite to complete a third victory. He currently holds a 20 point lead over Webber in the drivers's standings and a win at Silverstone would guarantee an increase in the gap. Similarly to Schumacher, rain would probably work in Alonso's favour as he tries to hang on to his place at the front of the field.
The home drivers will all be hoping to make inroads into the top ten and the point-winning places although it will be very hard for them to finish near the top. Jenson Button's poor form continued and he starts a long way back after failing to reach Q2. In eighth place in the standings and 62 points behind Alonso the Englishman is desperate for some high points but will struggle to do so. Young Scot Paul Di Resta starts in the top ten and could push on towards a higher position, especially if the weather wreaks havoc again.
2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton was disappointed with an eighth place start but still holds hopes of victory: "Eighth is not the best position but that is life. I could not get temperature into the tyres. I had no grip and we were skidding all over the place. We will try and understand why and fix it for tomorrow.” He did win a dramatic British Grand Prix in the wet in that championship-winning season of four years ago when he won from fourth. A repeat result will be tough but by no means impossible.
Tomorrow's race should be a thrilling couple of hours as the world's best go head-to-head again. Rain and some classically fluctuating British weather would help the race as a spectacle and give almost anyone a chance of victory.