Mercedes Valterri Bottas takes pole position ahead of both Ferrari’s of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen in close qualifying session as Lewis Hamilton crashes out of Q1.
The first part of Qualifying begins with Pascal Wehrlein appearing on track along with Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas. Hamilton starts his first lap with a quick first sector and then the car catches him out. Hamilton loses the rear of the car, slides and ends up in the barrier just before turn 7. It’s a big impact resulting with the 4th time champ out of Q1. The Red Flag is called out with 15 minutes and 52 seconds to go.
The session restarts with Nico Hulkenberg first on track. His first time of a 1:10:947 is quickly beaten by Valterri Bottas with a 1:10:053. Interesting to note that both Ferrari’s are on the Soft compound tyre. Kimi Raikkonen goes quickest on a 1:09:045. Lance Stroll missed most of FP3 due to a gearbox failure is currently in the drop-zone.
The drivers head out for their final laps. Felipe Massa improves to 4th and Brendon Hartley to 15th. The rest can’t improve with Raikkonen quickest ahead of Bottas and Sebastian Vettel.
Out: Hamilton – no time, Ericsson – 19th, Stroll – 18th, Gasly – 17th and Wehrlein – 16th.
Q2 starts with Valterri Bottas out on track. There are reports of drizzles of light rain in the pit-lane. His first lap is a 1:08:901 as Daniel Ricciardo momentary appears 2nd on 1:09:791 on the Soft tyre. Fernando Alonso goes 7th on a 1:09:961, 3 tenths behind Felipe Massa but ahead of both Renault’s and Force India’s.
With 6 minutes to go, Brendon Harley is the only driver not to set a lap time. Both Haas’s, Stoffel Vandoorne and Nico Hulkenberg are in the drop-zone. The clock ticks down with Valterri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel improving. The biggest surprise is Esteban Ocon who just misses out in 11th. Vettel ends the session quickest ahead of Bottas and Max Verstappen.
Out: Hartley – no time, Magnussen – 14th, Vandoorne – 13th, Grosjean – 12th and Ocon – 11th.
Q3 starts with Valterri Bottas appearing quite early on the track. His first lap is an 1:08:442, a couple of tenths better than his fastest Q2 time. Sebastian Vettel response? He goes quickest on a 1:08:360. Kimi Raikkonen slots into 3rd with Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo behind. Felipe Massa has a scary moment as he lost the rear of the car for only a couple of seconds. Unlike Hamilton, he is able to catch it and continue.
The drivers head out for their second runs. Vettel is slightly down on his sector 1 time with Raikkonen going quicker. Bottas’s first sector is also very good as Vettel is 1 tenth down in sector 2. Vettel completes the lap and doesn’t improve on a 1:08:418. Raikkonen improves but it’s not enough for the front-row. Bottas crosses the line to take pole position on a 1:08:322.
Bottas takes his 3rd career pole and his first since Austria. Behind, Verstappen beats Ricciardo to 4th with Sergio Perez “best of the rest” in 6th. Fernando Alonso ends up a decent 7th in which he is very happy about ahead of both Renault’s and Felipe Massa.
1.Bottas 2.Vettel 3.Raikkonen 4.Verstappen 5.Perez 6.Alonso 7.Hulkenberg 8.Sainz 9.Massa 10.Ocon 11.Grosjean 12.Vandoorne 13.Magnussen 14.Ricciardo* 15.Wehrlein 16.Ericsson 17.Stroll* 18.Hartley* 19.Gasly* 20.Hamilton**
Ricciardo, Stroll, Hartley and Gasly will all take engine penalties ( 10,5,10,25 places) Hamilton will start from the pit-lane.