As expected, qualifying would come down to a head-to-head between the Mercedes drivers, but Hamilton’s first effort on the option tyres, a 1min 32.248secs lap, would prove good enough to defeat his team-mate by a tenth of a second.
Though Rosberg threatened with a new fastest first sector on his second run, he would lose time in the middle stint to assure Hamilton of his eighth pole position in nine races, as well as his third pole at Silverstone.
Despite being more than eight tenths off pole position, Williams enjoyed its best qualifying performance of the season as it got the better of Ferrari to lock out row two, Felipe Massa’s second effort doing just enough to out-perform Valtteri Bottas for the sixth time this year.
The first time Kimi Raikkonen has beaten Sebastian Vettel in qualifying in a straight fight (Vettel’s technical issues in Canada notwithstanding), the Finn will head up an all-Ferrari third row in fifth place.
Though unable to mount the top five challenge it had predicted after free practice, Daniil Kvyat will start in seventh position for Red Bull, just ahead of Toro Rosso counterpart Carlos Sainz in eighth, while Nico Hulkenberg puts the new Force India into a good position for points from ninth.
Daniel Ricciardo starts tenth having had his best time deleted for exceeding track limits at Copse, the Australian just one of several drivers to fall foul of the stewards over the course of a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to qualifying today.
Having shown top ten pace throughout practice, Max Verstappen was the most surprising casualty to be slip out of contention in Q2, the Dutchman complaining of his car’s set-up following a spin in Q1 before only managing the 13th best time in Q2.
He will be joined outside the leading positions by Sergio Perez, who retained 11th despite having his best time deleted, with Romain Grosjean 12th, Pastor Maldonado 14th and Marcus Ericsson in 15th.
As anticipated, McLaren-Honda’s hopes of breaking out of Q1 would be determined early on as both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button fell short in 17th and 18th, the Spaniard a tenth from safety, while his team-mate slotted in three tenths further behind.
Out-qualified by his team-mate for only the third time this season, Sauber’s Felipe Nasr fell at the first hurdle too in 16th place, while Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi once more brought up the rear for Manor in 19th and 20th.