It was wet in FP3, but the track looked to be drying before Qualifying. But, to add further excitement to the session, rain would be on its way. Lewis Hamilton took a new internal combustion engine for this weekend and received a 10-place grid penalty. Carlos Sainz also took a brand new engine and would be at the back of the grid regardless of his qualifying position.
It was set to e a very interesting qualifying session. Let’s get straight into the action!
With two minutes to go until qualifying started, there was already a lengthy queue at the end of the Pit-lane. With the rain on its way, teams were eager to get their drivers out on track as soon as possible.
The track was still damp from the rain during FP3, so getting a smooth lap was going to be very difficult.
It was a race to get onto a flying lap as most believed that there would only be the chance for one lap. Lewis skipped past both Ferraris to get track position in the final corners. Lewis blew his lap at the first corner as he exceeded track limits at turn 1.
A few drivers went for a spin at turn 1. Sainz and Verstappen went for a spin, but Verstappen manged to get another lap in to go fastest.
Drivers were able to get more laps than they believed they would as they were still running on slicks with 10 minutes left of the session.
Times were still improving as the session went on and some drivers were putting in some great lap times. George Russell went fastest at one point but was still hanging in the top 10.
The track was no means dry though and some other drivers were finding this out the hard way. Turn 1 was still proving to be very difficult. Tsunoda had a big moment that he over-corrected and put his car through the grass. Mazepin also had a spin as he looked to get out of last place.
The rain that was promised didn’t come so it was going to be tense for those at the bottom of the timing sheet as the track started to dry out and lap times started to tumble.
For the final flying laps the cars were flying and for Daniel Ricciardo this meant he dropped out in Q1. There were some familiar faces joining Ricciardo as he sat out the rest of Qualifying, But Mick Schumacher would not be one of them as he dragged his Haas into Q2.
Eliminated: Ricciardo (16th), Latifi (17th), Giovinazzi (18th), Raikkonen (19th), Mazepin (20th)
Q2 started and still no rain. The track was still not fully dry, but still dry enough for slick tyres.
Graining was becoming an issue in Q1, so Mercedes and Red Bull opted for the medium tyres straight away. They were joined by the rest of the grid, apart from Yuki Tsunoda who still opted for the soft tyres.
Not many representative times were being set as there was no rush to get a lap time done. The drivers were doing multiple warm-up laps to get the tyres to a good temperature before going for a push lap.
The track conditions were still catching out drivers and it was Sergio Perez who had an identical spin to Yuki Tsunoda in Q1. He manged to keep the car out the wall, but his tyres were not in the best conditions.
While some drivers still struggled, others thrived. Fernando Alonso was doing a great job in his Alpine was not far off Max Verstappen who was behind both Mercedes in 3rd.
Tsunoda was showing pace was hadn’t seen for a while. Both him and Gasly were doing well and looked comfortable in the top 10.
Charles Leclerc was doing brilliantly until David Croft praised his pace and then Charles promptly spun at the final corner. This left him in the drop zone with a lot to do to be safe.
Stroll was just about in the top 10, but he had a moment into turn 1 on his last flying lap and it left him vulnerable. Leclerc was able to improve with help from his team-mate, but more commentator cursing from David Croft saw George Russell run wide at the final turn and he was out. Lance was safe.
Eliminated: Vettel (11th), Ocon (12th), Russell (13th), Schumacher (14th), Sainz (15th)
It was time for Q3.
Lewis Hamilton had been dominant up to this point with Bottas not far behind. It was going to take a mega effort from Max Verstappen to break Mercedes.
Lewis does have his penalty, but he will be looking to qualify as high up the grid as possible to give him the best possible opportunity in the race.
The two Mercedes were the first out the gate and it was Bottas who went 0.022 seconds faster than Hamilton. Both times were good enough to lock-out the provisional front row.
Verstappen had a big of a moment during his lap and he was 2 tenths off Bottas’ fastest time, but still managed to go 3rd.
Gasly put in yet another brilliant lap to put his Alpha Tauri ahead of the Red Bull of Sergio Perez to go provisionally 4th.
Both Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc who had shown great pace were 7th and 8th respectively after their first laps. You would expect to see them improve on their second attempts.
Hamilton bucked the usual qualifying trend and went out early to set a second flying lap. He went purple in the first two sectors and went two tenths faster than Bottas. He had enough time to cool the tyres and get another lap in before the end.
Verstappen would set his final lap before the Mercedes, but it was only good for 3rd place. Bottas would come across the line second, but he could not improve his position so it would be pole position for Bottas despite Lewis setting the fastest lap.
Norris couldn’t improve his time, but Leclerc shot up to 4th on his final effort, ahead of Gasly in 5th. Perez could only get 7th place. Not what Red Bull needed.