Ambient 15° Track 16° Humidity 100% Wind 4.1 m/s
Buckets of rain and fans were floated to their seats. Big learnings from FP3 is that the full wets will last forever or at least 25 laps and the Force India are pretty quick in the wet, at least with Hulkenberg driving. Quali very much a conditions based lottery in this type of weather and a lap set at the right time could make the big boys cry.
Q1 opened with the announcement on team radio that the first 10 minutes would be the best conditions for the whole session. Not surprisingly, this spurred everyone into action and 6 minutes into the session also not surprisingly, Carlos Sainz who was so brilliant yesterday, lost it and tagged the wall hard, red flagging the session at 12:56 with Hamilton, Ricciardo and Kvyat in the top 3 spots. It was the end of the session for Sainz and crucially, a huge chunk of runners had not set times including both Ferraris.
When the track reopened once again there was a mad dash for the track, but the top 3 trailed out later. Vettel showed there was time to find but as the minutes trailed off, everyone was surprised to see the times continue dropping.
With 5 minutes left and no guarantee of more sessions, Ricciardo, Hamilton and Rosberg were trading purples like the algorithm for a High Frequency Hedge Fund Vettel had a spin and tagged the wall leaving him in the pits for the fastest running of the day. Fortunately for the tifosi his time barely held up though he dropped to P15 in the final minute of the session. Ricciardo led the way followed by Rosberg and Hamilton. Ericsson, Nasr, Rossi, Stevens and naturally Sainz were out.
Q2 featured worsening conditions and again it was Rosberg who seems to have been more on rhythm with his laps, trailing Hamilton. Rosberg also kept his Q1 tyres with Hamilton trading his boots in for new ones. Nico seized P1 with his first lap and though Lewis improved on his second by the 8:00 minute mark cars were starting to regularly leave the circuit around T10. Verstappen was first then Perez and Raikkonen again followed by Hamilton and by that point it was obvious that times were not going to improve. By the time the checkers fell there were only a handful of cars on track and the rain was picking up quite a bit. The session finished with Rosberg, Hamilton and Ricciardo in the top spots, with Kvyat and Vettel rounding out the top 5.
After a few minutes dalliance with the jet dryer and a trip round the track by the safety car, Q3 was cancelled, much to the delight of the mechanics who would not have to rebuild any cars, save Toro Rosso who were already in full sprint mode to get Sainz ready for the race. Ferrari seem to have some issues in the heavy wet and should the weather be similar for the race they may struggle to get ahead of the Red Bull.
Forecast is for 50% chance of rain and as we all know, changeable conditions yield exciting races. Fingers crossed for this afternoon. See you then and play nice in the comments.
*Engine penalties not applied