Ambient 28° Track 37° Humidity 54% Wind 0.5m/s
Dryish weather ruled, with still grey skies after the proper soaking of the previous day. Button continued to have miserable luck with a broken/damaged floor during FP3 and Mercedes appeared to be back on song once the track dried. With only an hour of dry running it all remained a bit up in the air as the cars prepared to hit the circuit.
Q1 was characterized by the fact the F1 live timing app crashed and it’s astonishing how much detail never makes it into the telly. Nevertheless. it was Verstappen with the first run and as the times rolled in Hamilton again was aces, rocking up with a 1:33.595. Rosberg followed with a close 2nd and when the dust had cleared, it was Nasr, Button, Stevens, Ericsson and Rossi on the outside looking in. Ericsson in particular had a lurid slide, taking him almost to the barriers at Spoon.
The second bite of the apple saw Lewis improve his time on the hard tyres to a 1:32.844, again trailed by Rosberg as it became beyond obvious that Merc were back into full Death Star mode. Further back, it was again bad news for Button, who had been given the wrong engine mode and drained his battery halfway through his first lap. AS the bottom 5 got ready for their last efforts, Verstappen parked his car on the exit (typically thoughtless teenager) when it ran out of juice, bringing out the double yellows and effectively ending the session before the final shootout.
Button, Ericsson, Nasr, Stevens and Rossi all were done, as was Verstappen who would get P15 due to his dead car.
Q2 saw the Mercedes roles reverse as Rosberg proved the quicker on the Medium tyre, rolling up a 1:32.632, with Hamilton about 0.2s back. Worth noting that Lewis’ Q1 time on the Hard tyre would also have put him P2 for Q2 as well. In fact, such was their advantage Mercedes’ Q1 times on Hard tyres were fast enough to still get them the front row in Q3. Officially, Singapore goes into the one off column then. AS for those fighting over the scraps, it was Hulkenberg who suffered most, just not getting over on the car and watching his P8 plunge to P11 as the checkers came down. Grosjean had an epic last 2 sectors to claim P10 and Kvyat and Perez both managed to get themselves out of the bottom 5 after the checkers fell.
Hulkenberg, Sainz, Maldonado, Alonso and (natch) Verstappen were kicked to the kerb.
Q3 saw Rosberg out first and he and Hamilton again were balanced on a knife edge, with Hamilton ahead in S1, but Rosberg taking the other 2 sectors to claim provisional pole by 0.076s over Hamilton. Behind them, Bottas led Vettel then Massa to round out the top 5.
With the clock running down and the Mercedes duel winding up, it was a rare quali with some suspense left in it, particularly with Williams and Ferrari so closely intertwined. AS the runners launched into their final runs, Kvyat went slightly wide approaching the Hairpin, caught the grass and had a rather large shunt (he was OK but it looked a bit scary), bringing out the red flag and ending the session before any 2nd times could be registered.
So to Sunday we go to settle the question once and for all. With Lewis faster on the Hard tyre and Rosberg faster on the Medium, we might actually have a bit of a race at the front for a change. The interlacing of Williams and Ferrari between P3 and P6 should guarantee further fireworks and as always, Verstappen has contrived to wind up far back in the pack, always good for a few showy overtakes.
Have fun in the comments and good luck sorting out who would’ve been faster without the red flag. My vote goes to Fangio. See you tomorrow!