Valtteri Bottas continued to display strong form and solidly took pole position with both of his fastest laps faster than anybody else. Lewis Hamilton was second fastest as Max Verstappen struggled somewhat with car balance to end up in third on tomorrow's starting grid.
Qualifying started with both Haas drivers out first, followed by Kimi Raikkonen 20-ish seconds later. Raikkonen was immediately quite a bit faster than what the Haas drivers managed.
As the track got more busy a few minutes later, the session was stopped with 10:58 minutes to go as Lance Stroll badly damaged his Aston Martin badly by going just a tiny bit wide on the exit of the final corner. The car however lost rear grip on the dirty off-track tarmac and slid the rear into the barrier before the hit turned the car and pushed the front into the wall.
Stroll exited the car and was unhurt. It was also not much of an issue in terms of grid position as a penalty for an engine change already made sure Stroll would start the race near the back of the grid anyway.
Meanwhile at Red Bull Racing, mechanics continued to work at both car's rear wings, something they were also doing feverishly before Verstappen and Perez left the pits to do their first flying laps.
Before the stoppage, Leclerc had just gone fastest, half a second quicker than Vettel and Sainz. Giovinazzi and Raikkonen sat 4th and 5th and Mazepin 7th. All others didn't manage a time before Stroll's crash.
After nearly 20 minutes of silence, the session was restarted with Tsunoda leading Gasly out after having been waiting at the end of the pitlane for more than 2 minutes before being allowed to go out.
Both Mercedes followed soon, but their times were rapidly and solidly overhauled by Verstappen and Perez. After a cool-down lap, the Mercedes drivers put in another flying lap that worked far better for them, indicating that is when their tyres are better up to temperature. Neither however managed to beat Verstappen's time.
In the closing stages, Leclerc eventually did manage to beat Verstappen's time, followed by Bottas who made another improvement on the same set of soft tyres.
The soft tyres had seemingly disappeared in Q2 with nobody eager to start the race on the soft. Only Tsunoda and Ocon still went for the softs, resulting in Tsunoda going third faster behind Verstappen and Hamilton. Ocon didn't bother too much and even used a used set of softs, aware he'd be at the back of the grid anyway due to getting a new power unit.
Hamilton eventually got the upper hand, Giovinazzi found himself in the barriers sideways without causing any damage to his car and Russell did try the softs for his final run, but none of these events proved any surprise for the remainder of qualifying. Both Mercedes, Red Bull, AlphaTauri, Ferrari and McLaren made it into the final shootout. Vettel was the fastest to drop out, but with a nearly 3 tenths deficit to 10th fastest, Daniel Ricciardo.
The final part of qualifying immediately sprung a surprise as Verstappen complained of a sliding rear, resulting in getting beaten decisively by Bottas and Hamilton on the first run. Perez followed up in 4th, a tenth behind his teammate, followed by Gasly, Leclerc, Ricciardo, Sainz and Tsunoda. Lando Norris completely messed up his first lap and ended up 20s off the pace.
For the second outings, Red Bull sent out their cars one right after the other, hoping to avoid the trouble on the previous lap where one of the Ferraris ended up in between Perez and Verstappen, eventually resulting in Verstappen being too far off of Perez to get a tow on his first run.
The slipstream seemed better indeed, but then Perez went off at Turn 11, perhaps distracted by Tsunoda going off ahead of him. Verstappen wasn't obstructed but was probably somewhat distracted as well, also taking the time to say "unbelievable, such an idiot" during his lap. At that point, it was already clear it wouldn't be enough to beat Bottas, so this ended up with a Mercedes front-row lockout.
|3||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:16.788||1:16.483||1:16.225||18|
|4||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:17.003||1:17.055||1:16.342||18|
|5||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Honda||1:16.908||1:16.955||1:16.456||22|
|7||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:17.719||1:17.092||1:16.763||17|
|9||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda||1:17.330||1:16.701||1:17.158||19|
|10||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:17.569||1:17.473||1:36.830||19|
|11||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:17.502||1:17.746||16|
|12||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:17.606||1:17.958||18|
|13||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:17.958||1:18.172||13|
|14||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:17.897||1:18.290||15|
|15||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:18.126||1:18.405||13|
|16||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:18.452||7|
|17||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:18.756||8|
|18||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:18.858||9|
|19||9||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari||1:19.303||9|
|20||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:20.873||3|