Sebastian Vettel bowed out of the first session with mechanical issues, and Charles Leclerc was unable to set a time in the third session. Barring penalties, he’ll start from 10th place, while Vettel will be last on the grid.
Max Verstappen posted the second-best time of qualifying, ahead of Valtteri Bottas. Pierre Gasly was fourth.Qualifying started with plenty of drama. Vettel lost power to his Ferrari and was instructed to return to the pit lane:
While the mechanics worked on his car, team-mate Leclerc set the pace. Hamilton was more than 1.5 seconds off the pace after his first hot lap, illustrating Mercedes’ struggles. The championship leader would improve with his second attempt, easily making it into Q2, but Vettel had no such luck.
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The German would be the biggest casualty of Q1, while Lando Norris and Alex Albon also couldn’t make it into the second session.Lance Stroll did make it into Q2 for the first time since joining Racing Point.
On the medium tyres, Mercedes found much better pace early in the second session. Leclerc had his first time deleted for running wide, but he too was in the mix near the top once he put a time on the board.
Incredibly enough, another top contender had power issues, and Verstappen had to pit before he could post a time. He opted for the soft compound when he returned, but couldn’t beat out team-mate Gasly.
The midfield gaps were tiny, with Nico Hulkenberg in eighth just 0.033 seconds ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, in 13th.
Ferrari’s headaches continued at the start of Q3, as the mechanics and an FIA member gathered around Leclerc’s car. While he waited, the Silver Arrows took off for their flying laps, with Hamilton taking the lead.
The final flying laps didn’t change anything to the board, as Hamilton kept his lead and pole.Saturday practice took place in much cooler conditions than both sessions on Friday, but the lower temperatures only seemed to increase Ferrari’s advantage over Mercedes:
Leclerc, in particular, appeared to make up tons of time in the middle sector, where the Silver Arrows struggled for both grip and power.
Hamilton got to within 0.4 seconds of the on-fire Leclerc at one point, only to lose his lap time for exceeding track limits. His fastest legal lap was significantly slower, but he did set it on an older set of soft tyres and should be quicker in qualifying.
Both Haas drivers finished inside the top 10 in what was a much-needed positive session for the American outfit. Romain Grosjean did struggle with engine problems late, however.
Racing Point could not build on Friday’s success, with Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll finishing outside the top 10.
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz went significantly faster than team-mate Lando Norris while fitting in two stints on the medium compound. The Spaniard will be one to watch in Sunday’s race.
While Ferrari adapted well to the changing conditions for FP3, more change could be on the way:Rain may just be what Mercedes need to close the gap in the middle sector