Lewis Hamilton has taken matters into his own hands again by rounding a perfect lap at the very end of qualifying to take pole position, nearly 3 tenths quicker than Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg. Red Bull Racing took the second row on the grid, led by Daniel Ricciardo in third.
Following an overnight shower, sunny skies and 20°C greeted drivers and teams on Saturday for qualifying. Whether it had to do with these conditions is questionable, but at least Wehrlein and Haryanto were out on track as soon as qualifying started. Both Manor drivers would go on to complete three timed runs in Q1, only to end up on the back of the grid.
As the times came on the board, it is immediately evident that both Ferraris and both Mercedes were safe to go through to Q2 on a single flying lap. Ricciardo and Verstappen also comfortable went through, setting times that were quicker than both Ferraris. Bottas, Hulkenberg, Sainz and Alonso were also sure enough and opted not to go out for a second run.
As all running happened on soft tyres, even for the front runners, it was no surprise that even on the second runs, not much changed. In fact, only Gutierrez managed to make a leap ahead, posting the 8th fastest time to sure a spot in Q2.
Eliminated were Palmer, Massa, Ericsson, Nasr, Wehrlein and Haryanto. Massa was obviously the surprise here. He only managed to complete 4 laps, contrary to the two timed runs you would expect.
Contrary to the early action in Q1, the second part of qualifying only really kicked off after 3 minutes of looking at an empty track. Hamilton was the first to come out, followed by Rosberg approximately 10 seconds later. Both Mercedes were quick yet again, but Hamilton was interestingly 6 tenths ahead of his teammate, and already 2.5s quicker than last year's pole time.
Verstappen soon settled into third, and became the only one, bar Mercedes, not to head out for a second run in Q2. Raikkonen meanwhile very much needed a second run to get into Q3, having gone wide through turn 3 on his first outing.
As the session came to an end, the highlight was possibly home driver Fernando Alonso, who managed to get through to Q3. It's the first time McLaren-Honda as a partnership progressed into the top 10 in qualifying.
Slower than Alonso, and therefore eliminated were Hulkenberg, Button, Kvyat, Grosjean, Magnussen and Gutierrez.
In Q3, Hamilton is out first again, followed by Rosberg. Verstappen followed, but more than a minute later than the two Mercedes.
By the time Verstappen started his lap, Hamilton had already ruined his first one, as he badly locked up his front wheels under braking for turn 8, only just making the corner, and in the end crossing the finish line after a lap that was eight tenths slower than Rosberg's.
Still, while that ended up a tenth slower than Verstappen's first attempt, it was faster than the first laps of both Ferrari drivers. The other 5 drivers stood quietly in the garage, opting to go out for just a single run at the end of the session.
55 seconds from the end of the session, Hamilton was then the first one to start his final attempt, immediately going 3 tenths quicker than his teammate on S1, followed by further improvements to take pole position, 0.280s ahead of Rosberg's second lap.
Behind the Mercedes, Ricciardo was overjoyed with a perfect lap to secure third place on tomorrow's grid, 4 tenths ahead of Verstappen. Ferrari qualified in 5th and 6th, perhaps surprisingly more than a full second behind the pace setter.
|3||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||1:23.749||1:23.585||1:22.680||12|
|4||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||1:23.578||1:23.178||1:23.087||12|
|8||55||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||1:24.496||1:24.077||1:23.643||12|
|9||11||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:24.698||1:24.003||1:23.782||16|
|11||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:24.463||1:24.203||-||13|
|13||26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:24.696||1:24.445||-||11|