William said an aerodynamics issue had caused both cars to spin, and the drivers were not to blame.
"The situation is hard to judge", said Vettel , "because we haven't seen much today and mostly collected data, and also because time is limited between the two sessions".
Previously Hamilton had shared the record with Jim Clark who was on pole five times between 1962 and 1967 when the race alternated between Silverstone and Brands Hatch.
Speaking to Martin Brundle in the moments after edging out Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen by less than 0.01s, Lewis Hamilton was clearly seen to be shaking with emotion, nearly overcome by the moment.
Bottas suggested that Mercedes is in a stronger position tyre-wise that its main rival Ferrari. "The Ferraris pulled something out when it got to Q3".
Vettel's response came up short - albeit just 0.106s down on the new benchmark - and afterwards joked "it's so little time, it's practically the same lap!"
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That suggests it has had difficulty putting away its opponents, but it also means it is excelling during the biggest moments. Other fans looked to the future on the heels of Russia's best World Cup performance since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
That was still slower than Hamilton's morning time of 1:27.487, however, with Vettel third then and half a second slower.
"I don't even remember it. I think it was turn 13 maybe", he said.
Track position seems doubly significant at Silverstone, where Hamilton is looking to claim a fifth consecutive win at his home race - and sixth overall. "It's a real privilege for me and I was just watching some of the replays of previous year and if you look at the end when it shows you all of the positions and obviously to see the Union Jack up there is always a great feeling". I can't tell you how.
Toto Wolff explains: "You could see that with the lead Red Bull auto in Austria, Max [Verstappen] was managing his pace and had no problems with the tyres, and Daniel [Ricciardo] - the same vehicle - attacking and trying to make it past Kimi [Raikkonen] had heavy blistering on an identical vehicle. So I think he [Hamilton] was just a little bit better on the final run, but for tomorrow I think we should be fine". "I think I had all the tools today to be faster but I locked the front wheel going into Turn 16 on the last lap".
"I think it's impossible to say how the rest of the season is going to go", added the reigning champion.