The 28-year-old Briton dislodged Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel from top spot in a stunning top-ten shoot-out with a flying lap of one minute 19.388secs, leaving the triple world champion 0.034secs adrift.
But it was a disaster for Scotland’s Paul Di Resta, who endured another tough Saturday afternoon in the cockpit of his Force India. Seemingly struggling with Pirelli’s new tyres, the Scot starts 18th in his Force India.
Mercedes headed into the weekend admitting there was no chance of claiming pole. They were banned from the young driver test at Silverstone last week when Pirelli debuted their new specification of tyres.
Mercedes initially struggled during practice as they gathered the necessary data required to make the correct calls on set up.
But even when Hamilton crossed the line at the death to claim top spot on the grid and was informed of the fact, he replied: “Pole?”
Lotus’ Romain Grosjean lines up ahead of Merceces’ Nico Rosberg who had been quickest in Q1 and Q2, with Vettel’s title rivals Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari and Kimi Raikkonen for Lotus fifth and sixth. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa will start seventh ahead of Daniel Ricciardo for Toro Rosso, with McLaren’s Sergio Perez ninth.
Mark Webber failed to set a time in the last ten minutes and will start tenth.
Adrian Sutil was ousted from a place in the top ten right at the death of Q2 by Perez, and will line up 11th in his Force India, followed by German compatriot Nico Hulkenberg for Sauber.
Jenson Button finished two tenths of a second behind Perez in Q2 and could only manage 13th.