Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Mattpt55
Ambient 22° Track 24° Humidity 80% Wind 2.3 m/s
Despite buckets of rain hammering down in FP3, the edge of qualifying saw the words changeable conditions dominating the badinage of the commentariat with a brutal wind the dominant variable. Lewis Hamilton in for a 5 grid spot penalty and a return to the 2015 format also worth considering, not to mention the FP2 pace of Ferrari. The story behind the story was tyre pressure, with several teams and drivers less than happy with the uber pressures demanded by Pirelli.
Well well well. From the frying pan into the fire for last year’s WDC as an ERS problem in Q1 doomed him to dead last for tomorrow’s race. Not the only excitement as flash driver Wehrleinen (LOL) hit a bump on the front straight and managed a tank slapper into the Armco on the front straight which red flagged the session for a rather long time for those watching in the dead of night, but not long enough for Mercedes to sort Hamilton’s problem.
As the minutes ticked down the usual suspects queued up to try and make Q2 and when the dust had settled Hamilton, Wehrlein, Haryanto, Palmer, Guttierez and Magnussen were going no further.
Q2 continued to surprise as Rosberg audaciously jumped out on a pair of Softs, compared to the rest of the field on the SuperSofts and immediately set what looked to be an untouchable time. True enough until Ferrari came out to play and were able to best him by a tenth, but with Raikkonen edging Vettel. Once again, as those who set their first times on the used Supers got ready to shootout after the checkers, Hulkenberg’s front left wheel decided to go it’s own way as he headed into T7 and T8 red flagging the session without enough time for a second time to be set.
Hopelessly scuppered by this were Massa, Alonso, Button, Grosjean Ericsson and Nasr, with the rest being rather grateful they threw down at the top of the session. And Force India will likely get more than a slap on the wrist for sending the car out in an unsafe condition.
Q3 was all to play for and Raikkonen made it vastly interesting by taking provisional pole after the first runs, with Rosberg and Ricciardo trailing. Vettel elected to sit out the first bite of the apple and as the the drivers hit the track for their last shot it was Rosberg on his outlap actually passing Ricciardo to get the space he wanted. His first sector wasn’t brilliant but he lit up the last 2 sectors to get 0.5s up and Ricciardo snuck in when the telly wasn’t looking to take P2 away from Raikkonen. Vettel’s lap wasn’t the best and he came P4 after missing the hairpin and Raikkonen made exactly the same mistake, setting Ferrari on the second row, with Raikkonen ahead of Vettel.
What’s truly hella interesting is the tyre strategy tomorrow, with Rosberg on Softs and Ferrari with their blinding starts on the Super Softs and Kimi having run a fairly long stint on them just to see what would happen. Ricciardo’s a fairly unknown quantity as it’s been a while since we’ve seen RB starting this far up the grid and, oh yes, Hamilton barnstorming from the back likely to be a fairly fun ride as well.
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