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Booing blew across Silverstone's windswept acres yesterday aimed squarely at the man who denied the local hero, Lewis Hamilton, the eighth title he might now never win.<br>Max Verstappen is about the most vilified man in Northamptonshire right now, but at least he did not further alienate himself yesterday by taking pole position for the British Grand Prix.<br>That honour was seized by Ferrari's Carlos Sainz for the first time in 150 attempts during a rain-splashed qualifying session that provided a gripping finale.  Verstappen, who lifted off for a yellow flag, was 0.072 seconds back. Cheers all round.<br>      (image:  )  Lewis Hamilton urged fans at Silverstone not to boo his Formula One rival Max Verstappen <br>      (image:  )    Verstappen and Hamilton collided at the British Grand Prix in a controversy packed 2021 <br>  RELATED ARTICLES                    Share this article Share 353 shares    Hamilton managed fifth for Mercedes, qualifying first of the three Brits in the cagoule-worthy weather that cast Silverstone in one of its most typical guises. For a moment he lay second on the timing sheets, with only Verstappen in front of him.  That temporarily raised hopes of a rematch of their great grudge, but Hamilton finished one second adrift.<br> <br /> Seven months have elapsed since that fateful day in Abu Dhabi, the last act of the 2021 season, the details of which need little repeating.  Suffice it to say, eccentric deployment of the safety car handed Verstappen the chance to pass Hamilton and claim his maiden title.<br>That means for most of the 142,000 fans expected at today's race it is a case of Anyone But Verstappen.<br>      (image:  )    The British driver said he 'definitely' did not agree with the booing of the Red Bull driver <br>      (image:  )  Max Verstappen seemed unperturbed by the booing of him while he was carrying out media duties on Saturday<br>This much was borne out by the loud and relieved roar of Sainz's pole.  A Spaniard. In a Ferrari.<br>Verstappen had looked favourite for top spot rather than the adjacent grid space for most of the hour's action, but he lost his sure-footedness towards the close, spinning 360 degrees at Stowe and then slipping off track at Vale. Cue throaty jeers.<br>Of his pirouette, Verstappen said: 'I was just warming up my tyres.' A self-deprecating witticism? Or a cocky remark? We can guess on which side of the question most here fell.<br>Other charges are laid at Max's door.  Many of the sell-out crowd were here last year when he and Hamilton collided at Copse, blowing the lid off their rivalry. And there is the unsavoury events of last week, when Nelson Piquet used the n-word to describe Hamilton.<br>Verstappen is dating the triple world champion's daughter Kelly, and, while he criticised the racist remarks strongly, he added the furore had been 'blown out of proportion'.<br>So one suspects the sins of the father-in-law are being visited on the son-in-law.<br>The loudest jeering came when Verstappen stepped out of the car and began his post-session interview session with former driver Billy Monger.<br>      (image:  )    Verstappen qualified in P2 for the race behind Ferrari's Charles Leclerc on pole position<br>The defending champion said: 'It was a bit disappointing because I couldn't really understand what Billy was saying.  It was a bit of a problem. But if they want to boo me, they can do that. Maybe some of them don't like me. That is fine. They all have their own opinions and I don't care.' <br> Hamilton, who has been booed at various times all over the world, called for his supporters to show his vanquisher more respect.  'We are better than that and we don't need to do the booing,' said the Mercedes man.<br>'Our sporting fans feel ups and downs of emotion but I definitely don't agree with booing. I do really appreciate the support I have here. Maybe some of them are still feeling the pain from last year.' Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff chimed in, saying: 'Booing is abusive. Emotion as a fan is good. But there is a similar limit which we shouldn't overstep'<br>There is a chance of a Hamilton victory here today. A slim one, but not zero. There were moments in Montreal a fortnight ago when he possessed real speed and Mercedes' race pace is again likely to eclipse their one-lap showing.  There is also the alchemy potential in the combination of a revved-up, roared-on Hamilton and a track on which he has won a record eight times, once unforgettably in the wet when he was 23 in 2008.<br>      (image:  )  Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have enjoyed a fierce rivalry during their time together <br>But his task is hard with Sainz, Verstappen, Charles Leclerc in the other Ferrari and Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull in front of him.  He might have hoped for a higher starting place when rain started falling 10 minutes before qualifying began. In Q1, the rain relented slightly. In Q2, it intensified. In Q3, it eased off before coming back stronger.<br>'Oh man I was having so much fun out there,' said Hamilton. 'I was fighting for the front row and I knew I had the pace.  The team told me to back off on the second to last lap and push on the last lap, but it rained more on the last lap and it was slower.<br>'It makes it a little bit harder tomorrow but we've got a good race car and we'll continue working.<br>'It's not the worst position to start, of course.  In past races, I would have been super happy but this is the British Grand Prix and you're hoping for something more.'<br>The other Brits were eclipsed by the older man. Lando Norris was sixth best for McLaren, a strong result after complaining how bad conditions were during the middle session. Rightly, the show went on.<br>George Russell was eighth best, less than 0.2sec behind team-mate Hamilton. He was annoyed with himself, believing he could have started fourth or fifth but for a small rick on his final lap.<br>A Mercedes win is a long-shot.  But all is not lost for Lewis's devotees on what is forecast to be a dry Sunday. Their best hope: 'ABV.'<br>      (image:  )    Toto Wolff echoed the sentiments of his star driver in saying there was no need for the booing <br>  RELATED ARTICLES                    Share this article Share 353 shares    adverts.addToArray({"pos":"inread_player"})Advertisement
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Wednesday, August 31, 2022
 
 
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