Brought to you by John Myburgh
Lewis Hamilton claimed his sixth pole of the season, now only one behind his teammate Nico Rosberg. Mercedes yet again locked out the front row with Rosberg claiming second and Ricciardo rounding out the top three, beating Vettel yet again.
Qualifying was a bit of a tame affair though with the only real drama, if it can be called that, being that pole looked to have new contenders in Ferrari, with the Red Bull of Ricciardo also looking good enough to take the battle to the Mercedes cars, but it was not to be. Elsewhere Button got knocked out in Q2 while Magnussen made it through to Q1, things not looking good for the Frome Flyer.
As the lights went green most cars stormed out onto the track, bar the Red Bulls, with their two drivers not even in the car yet. They were not alone though as Erricson was standing around, waiting to get into his green monster.
As Max Chilton emerged on the track Rosberg started his first flying lap of the session. Similar to Monza and Monaco, Rosberg, who started the session with new brakes, locked up and ran wide and into an escape road apparently struggling with brake temperatures.
Vergne was the first one to set a flying lap, crossing the line in 1:49.279 however this was quickly beaten by Bottas with a 1:47.743. Magnussen slotted his McLaren into second, but Rosberg managed to get his car round for a timed lap and pushed Magnussen down to third.
With ten minutes to go, first Raikkonen and then Alonso went fastest. However Hamilton had yet to set a timed lap and when he did it demoted the Ferrari cars to second and third, crossing the line in 1:47.847. From somewhere Gutierrez in the Sauber, on Super Softs, found speed and crossed the line only 0.123 slower than Hamilton.
Red Bull had yet to have any of their drivers set a time with only six minutes to go. When the cars did go out they had super softs on, trying for that one lap that will take them to Q2 using as little engine millage as possible. Vettel’s lap was spoiled, first by Erricson and then by Kvyat, both on the racing line.
Ricciardo had no such problems though and sailed through to take P1 in 1:47.488. Nico Hulkenberg made sure that the Australian did not stay on top for too long, replacing him with a time of 1:47.370. It was clear that even the top teams needed to use their Super Softs to be safe in Q1.
Raikkonen went fastest with three minutes of the session left, Button slotted into second but was demoted by Alonso, a Ferrari 1-2 with two minutes to go of Q1.
While Bottas was sitting pretty in P5 Massa was on the bubble in P16. The little Brazillian though pulled it out of the bag on his last lap, just, and crossed to claim P11.
Q1 claimed the scalps of the usual suspects; Sutil, Maldonado, Bianchi, Kobayashi, Chilton and Erricson. Interestingly, Rosberg was told he was on his race tyres so need to take care of them on the way back to the pits.
Q2 was slow to get going and a very understated affair. Perez headed out on track almost immediately wasting no time to after a dismal Q1. He posted a time 1:47.597 but this was soon eclipsed by Raikkonen and then Alonso with a 1:46.328. Hamilton then crossed the line in 1:46.287, just managing to beat Alonso’s time by a mere 0.041s. It is clear this weekend will not be plain sailing for the Mercedes cars with even Ferrari now sniffing at the heels of the Silver Arrows.
Five minutes left of Q2 and all but Massa, Bottas and Perez were in the pits getting ready for the final part of the session. Hulkenberg then joined the party on track closely followed by Gutierrez.
All but the four fastest joined the trakc to have another go at making it, or securing, into Q1. Massa crossed the line to take fourth, pushing Ricciardo down to fifth and Rosberg to sixth. As the flag dropped the cars rushed over the line, Button missed the cut while Magnussed made it to ninth.
Rosberg felt his sixth place was not enough and completed another flyer, crossing the line in 1:45.825, almost half a second faster than Hamilton’s best giving him P1. At the expense of a new set of tyres this was really a hollow lap for Rosberg.
Q2 came to an end with Rosberg setting the fastest time and Hamilton in P2 while Alonso had to settle for third. Those who did not make it into Q1 were Button, Vergne, Hulkenberg, Gutierrez, Perez and Grosjean. For Button, without a contract for next year it was not what he was looking for.
Going into Q3 the question was who would take pole but also, where would Ferrari end up, top three perhaps? As the light went green Massa was the first to emerge followed by Kvyat and Magnussen. Rosberg followed them on a pair of scrubbed super softs, his team mate Hamilton opting for a scrubbed pair as well.
Massa crossed the line in 1:46.007 and was followed by Ricciardo, Raikkonen and Bottas. Alonso demoted Raikkonen taking third. The shock came though when Rosberg crossed the line, in sixth only! Things were not better for Hamilton who pushed Rosberg down to seventh.
Five minutes to go with all the cars in the pits again and the question was still who would be on pole. Would we see Massa with a second pole for the season or…
A dream for Ferrari it was not to be though. As the cars headed out for one last attempt at getting the best possible place, Raikkonen grinding to a halt complaining of no power.
Riccardo got first blood, provisional pole in 1:45.845, to much delight of the crowd. Rosberg then crossed the line to take P1 from Ricciardo in 1:45.688 but sweet it was not as Hamilton managed to find extra speed, a whole 0.007s, to take pole in 1:45.681, much to the appreciation and cheers of the crowd. Hamilton’s time was remarkable considering he locked up into turn 1 on his flyer. Ricciardo’s time was good enough for third.
Vettel claimed fourth in front of Alonso, the Ferrari challenge fizzling out yet again. Massa finsihed in sixth with Raikkonen, Bottas, Magnussen and Kvyat rounding out the top ten.
The race is tomorrow but today Hamilton delivered, will it be a 1-2 for Mercedes again tomorrow?
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull|
|4||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull|
|10||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso|
|12||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso|
|13||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India|
|15||Sergio Perez||Force India|