Formula 1 has descended upon England and the fast Silverstone circuit. Silverstone has a rich history in British motorsport and was site of the very first Formula 1 race in 1950.

Like many of England’s racetracks, it is the byproduct of bomber fields left over from WWII. It has of course evolved over the years, but its long straights have their roots in the runways of a very different time.

So who capitalized on those long straights when time ran out of Saturday’s qualifying? Though all of England pinned its hopes on local hero Lewis Hamilton, it was his McLaren teammate, Heikki Kovalainen who secured pole, his first.

The Finn grabbed the spot by a long half second over the surprisingly competitive Red Bull of Mark Webber. Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari, Hamilton in the other McLaren, and the BMW Sauber of Nick Heidfeld round out the top five.

Said Heidfeld, “I’m quite happy with fifth because it just continues a positive trend which began in qualifying in Magny-Cours, and confirms all our efforts and work have paid off.”

Teammate Robert Kubica, meanwhile, will be relegated to 10th on the grid. In the third qualy session, he looked set for a great time but experienced a difficulty with the car and had to end his session without a time. “In Qualifying 3 I went through the first sector without any problems,” said Kubica. “But then I felt the same problem at the rear I felt on Friday. Now we have to analyze everything and see what is going on.”

Full qualy results and more can be seen at

Not ideal positioning for our BMW boys, then, but their form pre-qualifying suggests they’ve got the machinery beneath them to gain positions, and with rain in the forecast for Sunday, they have every chance of moving up the order.

A final note: Early in the week, F1 veteran David Coulthard announced his retirement at the end of the 2008 season. DC has been a grid fixture since 1994, first with Williams following the death of Ayrton Senna, then for a long, successful stint at McLaren alongside double world champ Mika Hakkinen, and most recently with Red Bull. He has 13 victories to his credit, but will likely be remembered as a fast, likable yet outspoken driver who was never quite as fast as his teammates. This will be the Scot’s final home grand prix.

Sunday’s British Grand Prix will be broadcast on Fox at 1 pm EST.