Sebastian Vettel was dominant in today's qualifying session, posting times that nobody could reach. Behind him however, competition was fierce, with Lewis Hamilton settings the second fastest time, ahead of Fernando Alonso. The second Red Bull of Mark Webber will start the GP from 4th on the grid.
The weather today in qualifying is a lot warmer than on Friday, with track temperatures topping 36°C, considerably higher than during FP1 and FP2.
Under sunny skies, Nico Rosberg is the first one out on track, catching up some lost track time after his problems during FP3.
Three minutes into the session 19 cars are on track, all cars seemingly on the harder, yellow marked soft tyre. Alonso went fastest during the first round of flying laps but kept on track to realise another improvement on the same set of tyres 3 laps later.
12 minutes into the session, Schumacher came out on top, while just behind him Sebastian Vettel started with his first flying lap of qualifying. Vettel set the 4th best time on his first attempt, 2 tenths faster than his teammate. Both Red Bulls continued for another lap, with Webber improving to 3rd and Vettel posting the best time, one tenth faster than Michael Schumacher.
Kimi Raikkonen on the other hand is already out on track on the option tyres. With 4 minutes left on the clock he is only in 12th position. Pérez is also on the same strategy, as well as Button and of course many others. Vettel on the other hand continued 2 more laps on the same set of tyres and improved even more, setting a 1:14.661.
One minute from the end, Vettel is in the pits, as well as Button, Schumacher, Alonso, Webber, Hamilton and Massa. All others are still running on options to make sure they get through to Q2.
Senna for instance moved up to 7th as the session ended. Raikkonen in the closing stages also managed to improve from 16th to 9th.
Eliminated at the end of Q1 are Kovalainen, Petrov, Vergne, De La Rosa, Glock, Pic, Karthikeyan.
At the start of Q2, the only remaining Toro Rosso is out on track first, in the hands of Daniel Ricciardo. Kobayashi and then Alonso were the next cars to take the track, only about 10 seconds later than the Australian.
5 minutes into the session, Hamilton sets the fastest time on options. Most drivers are out immediately on the softer tyre while Alonso chose to run his initial few laps on primes, setting a 1:16.8 due to running off track in turn 1.
2 minutes later Vettel is again on top of the timesheet, just ahead of his teammate Mark Webber. Massa meanwhile sets the 8th fastest time on his first attempt, a reasonable time considering he is also lapping on the prime tyre. Another minute later Hamilton splits the Red Bulls and moves up into second place.
4 minutes from the end, Alonso has switched to the options and sets the second fastest time, just 0.050s faster than Lewis Hamilton.
With just 3 minutes to go, Ricciardo is 11th, ahead of Raikkonen, Di Resta, Maldonado, Senna Kobayashi and Pérez.
The differences around the cut off are extremely small, with one tenth of a second making a difference between 7th and 12th position.
At the end of Q2, Grosjean just managed to get through, along with Di Resta, Massa and Button. Behind them, and therefore eliminated are Kobayashi, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Pérez, Senna and Maldonado. The latter messed up his final lap as he went too wide through the last turn, hitting the wall of champions with his right rear wheel. As soon as he touched it, the rear suspension broke and brought the Venezuelan into a spin. He managed to recover, but since he was the last man on the flying lap, it didn't really matter for anyone.
Q3 kicks off with Hamilton and then Button taking their cars to the track. Hamilton though immediately messes up his first flying lap with slides through turn 5 and 6. Massa then goes fastest, ahead of Grosjean, but it's Hamilton who sets the fastest time on his second flyer.
However, Sebastian Vettel came over the finish line nearly halfway through Q3 and posts a 1:13.905, the fastest time so far this weekend and also more than half a second faster than Lewis Hamilton's fastest time.
With little less then three minutes to go, Button returns to the pits and gets pulled into the garage. He posted his fastest lap on the prime tyres, a strategy choice for tomorrow's race.
Vettel meanwhile is again on a flyer, along with Hamilton and Alonso. Vettel is the first on track and improves another tenth. Hamilton failed to improve while Grosjean also remained 7th. Alonso also failed to improve after setting the fastest first sector.
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:14.661||1:14.187||1:13.784||16|
|4||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:14.956||1:14.479||1:14.346||19|
|5||8||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG||1:15.098||1:14.568||1:14.411||25|
|8||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:15.019||1:14.639||1:14.705||22|
|9||7||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes AMG||1:14.892||1:14.480||1:14.812||18|
|13||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:15.106||1:14.748||-||18|
|21||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1:17.492||-||-||8|