Mercedes Lewis Hamilton beats Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes teammate Valterri Bottas to his 6th consecutive pole position as Antonio Giovinazzi crashes heavily at the end of Q1.
Antonio Giovinazzi is the first car out on the track and is the first to complete a lap time of a 1:35:437. Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg goes quickest on a 1:34:453 which is beaten by Lewis Hamilton on a 1:33:333. Romain Grosjean spins at the final corner with 11 minutes to go which holds up Hamilton. His lap time would have been a bit quicker if the Frenchman hadn’t of spun. Grosjean’s tyres are badly damaged and a fresh set will be needed. Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen are next with both on the Soft tyres. Vettel goes quickest on a 1:33:078 with Raikkonen on a 1:33:314.
Max Verstappen says on his Red Bull team radio that “something is not right with the engine”. The clock ticks down and Stoffel Vandoorne cannot improve and he is out. Giovinazzi comes out of the final corner and loses the rear of the car. He tries to save it but the car hits the barrier on the left hand-side of the track. The yellow flags are out and that means that ruins the opportunity of Esteban Ocon, Jolyon Palmer and Verstappen to improve. Vettel ends the session quickest ahead of Hamilton and Raikkonen.
Out: Vandoorne – 16th, Grosjean – 17th, Palmer – 18th, Verstappen – 19th and Ocon 20th.
The second part of Qualifying is delayed due to the marshals clearing up the debris and Giovinazzi’s wrecked Sauber car. Jolyon Palmer and Romain Grosjean, who were eliminated in Q1 are under investigation for failing to slow down under yellow flags. The session gets going with Lance Stroll being the first car out on track. Kimi Raikkonen sets a 1:32:602 with Sebastian Vettel going quickest on a 1:32:391. Lewis Hamilton slots into 2nd behind Vettel on a 1:32:406 with Valterri Bottas slotting into 3rd on a 1:32:552.
The chequered flag falls with Nico Hulkenberg managing to get his Renault car into the top 10. Daniil Kvyat improves and stays in the top 10 as Marcus Ericsson fails to get into the 3rd part of qualifying. Kevin Magnussen also fails as Stroll secures his place in Q3. Sergio Perez improves as Carlos Sainz Jr doesn’t along with Fernando Alonso. Raikkonen headed out for an extra lap and set a lap time of a 1:32:181 which is a new lap record. He ends the session quickest ahead of Vettel and Hamilton.
Out: Sainz – 11th, Magnussen – 12th, Alonso – 13th, Ericsson – 14th and Giovinazzi – 15th (no time)
Q3 starts with Nico Hulkenberg setting the first competitive lap of a 1:33:580. It is soon beaten by Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas on a 1:31:902 and a 1:32:265. The Ferrari’s of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen are next on a 1:32:086 and a 1:32:616. Raikkonen is complaining of “very bad grip, and the rear is not good – are the settings different” he asks his team. Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll are the only drivers to have not set a lap time.
The final runs are being produced with Hamilton improving to a 1:31:678. A far better lap time that his previous earlier in the session. Bottas also improves to a 1:31:865 but it’s not good enough to beat Hamilton. Vettel is next and goes 2nd on a 1:31:864. He’s piped Bottas by just one thousandth of a second. Perez ends up 8th after his only run with Stroll in 10th. Pole position for tomorrow’s race marks Hamilton’s 63rd career pole and gives Mercedes their 75th pole in only 100 GPs.
Top 10: Hamilton – 1st, Vettel – 2nd, Bottas – 3rd, Raikkonen – 4th, Ricciardo – 5th, Massa – 6th, Hulkenberg – 7th, Perez – 8th, Kvyat – 9th and Stroll – 10th.
1.Hamilton 2.Vettel 3.Bottas 4.Raikkonen 5.Ricciardo 6.Massa 7.Hulkenberg 8.Perez 9.Kvyat 10.Stroll 11.Sainz 12.Magnussen 13.Alonso 14.Ericsson 15.Giovinazzi 16.Vandoorne 17.Verstappen 18.Ocon 19.Grosjean* 20.Palmer*
Grosjean* and Palmer* were each given a 5 place grid penalty after the Stewards found that the duo failed to slow sufficiently for double waved yellow flags in the first part of qualifying.