Lewis Hamilton dominated qualifying – topping all 3 sessions – to take pole position, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in second as he hopes to keep the championship battle going with a strong result in the race. Bottas was third, ahead of Ricciardo and Raikkonen – who set identical times.
Hamilton topped Q1, but Verstappen was less than a tenth off the pace. Grosjean just scraped into Q2 with 15th, his teammate however failing to reach the next session. Magnussen ended qualifying down in 20th.
Stroll was disappointed not to make it into the top 15, suffering an engine problem. He was handed a penalty for a dangerous incident in which he turned into Grosjean, who was on a quick lap, due to a miscommunication with his team. This means he will be starting the race 16th.
Brendon Hartley knew before qualifying started that he would be starting from the back due to engine changes. However, he wanted to put in an impressive performance on his debut. In the closing stages of qualifying, it had initially looked as if he would make it through, but improvements for Ericsson and Stroll pushed him down to 18th.
Out in Q1:
Again it was Mercedes at the top of the times in Q2, with both Hamilton and Bottas reaching the 1:33s. Meanwhile Verstappen, knowing he faced a big grid drop, opted to set a lap on the supersofts which would allow him to start the race on the harder tyres.
Many drivers made late improvements in the session, with the likes of Perez and Sainz reaching Q3 in the final seconds. This knocked Massa into the drop zone, with 11th place. Kvyat, Vandoorne and Grosjean also failed to reach the top ten.
With a new engine fitted, Hulkenberg opted not to run in the session, knowing that he has to serve a 20 place penalty so will start near the back wherever he qualifies.
Out in Q2:
On the initial runs in Q3, Hamilton set the pace once again, with an advantage of over half a second on his closest rival – his teammate Bottas. Raikkonen, Verstappen and Vettel set extremely close lap times, separated by less than a tenth but 0.7 seconds down on Hamilton.
Hamilton failed to improve on the second run, but his previous 1:33.108 was enough for pole position. A big improvement for Vettel elevated him to second, knocking Bottas down to 3rd. Ricciardo put a strong lap in to secure 4th, with Raikkonen setting an identical time.
Despite ending the session 6th, Verstappen will start the race way down in 17th due to his engine penalty. Ocon put in a great lap for 7th, with Sainz impressing in his first race for Renault to go 8th. Alonso was pleased with 9th and Perez completed the top ten.
With 6 drivers serving grid penalties this weekend, the order from qualifying will be mixed up for the race. Four drivers have penalties for replacing engine parts. They are: Verstappen (15 places), Hulkenberg (20 places), Hartley (15 places) and Vandoorne (5 places).
Stroll and Magnussen were both handed 3 place grid drops after qualifying for impeding other drivers on their fast laps.
With all 6 of these penalties applied, the provisional grid for the race is:
Hamilton, Vettel; Bottas, Ricciardo; Raikkonen, Ocon; Sainz, Alonso; Perez, Massa; Kvyat, Grosjean; Ericsson, Vandoorne; Wehrlein, Stroll; Verstappen, Magnussen; Hulkenberg, Hartley.