There are no penalties coming out of the Japanese Grand Prix other than Williams being fined for a second time after wheel nut failure [BBC].
My GridBids picks are VET, BUT, ROS and HAM.
VET just needs to finish in the top 5 to wrap up the Drivers’ Championship with 4 races remaining. He was fastest in all 3 Free Practice sessions.
Weather is fine, dry, less smoggy than FP3
Air temperature 31°C; track 38°C; wind 2m/s
Tyre choices: prime = medium (white lettering), option = soft (yellow)
Qualifying 1 (Q1)
GUT is first out of the pit lane
Radio for GUT updating him on a change in wind direction
CHI going out on options already
Christian Horner tells BBC that the soft compound tyres will only last about 10 miles!
Radio for HAM telling him the cut off time for Q1 is expected to be 1:26.5
(VET’s pole time last year was 1:25.283)
BOT runs quite wide in the final turn
10mins left of Q1; yet to see a time from GRO, VET, WEB or ALO
GUT 1:26.057 on options
VET leaves the pits on primes but WEB and ALO go out on options
Radio for ALO says they’re going for 3 timed laps – sounds like Ferrari think the soft tyres will last longer than Red Bull do
(VET P2 on primes, 0.009sec behind ALO)
(WEB P3 on options but clearly wasn’t pushing the tyres too hard)
Radio for WEB telling him he needs to do one more fast time to be safe! (Is that a decoy?)
2mins left of Q1; bottom 6 are VER, MAL, BIA, VDG, PIC, CHI
Everyone except VET and GRO on options
Chequered flag; bottom 6 are VER, MAL, BIA, VDG, PIC, CHI
(VDG P16; relegates BOT)
(VER P11; VDG P17)
(BOT P14; MAS P17)
(MAS P4; GRO P17)
The two guys still on primes finish Q1 VET=P11, GRO=P17
So GRO, who finished P3 in Japan is out in Q1 – terrible strategy mistake by Lotus not to put him on options
Back of the grid: GRO, MAL, BIA, VDG, PIC, CHI.
Everyone well inside the 107% time of 1:31.564
Qualifying 2 (Q2)
RAI is first on track – he’s on options
ALO, MAS on used options too; HUL on primes
Little lock-up for RAI in the final turn
WEB on a very slow out lap – treating the soft tyres very carefully
Radio for BUT (P2) confirming a good lap time on used options but they’ll prepare the car for another run on new options
WEB very wide – Charlie Whiting has said they won’t be penalised for running over the artificial grass
WEB 1:25.097 – will the stewards review that lap?
Radio for WEB telling him to do another quick lap, presumably in case they lose that P1 time
2mins left; bottom 6 are BOT, VER, SUT, RIC, HUL and no time from GRO
Chequered flag; bottom 6 are BOT, VER, SUT, RIC, HUL, GRO
(RIC P8; relegates DIR)
(HUL P6; PER to P11)
Middle of the grid: RIC, DIR, SUT, VER, BOT, GUT
Qualifying 3 (Q3)
Fighting over the top 10 spots are VET, ALO, WEB, RAI, HAM, ROS, HUL, PER, MAS & BUT
WEB rolls down the pit lane, waits at the red light
Green light – start of Q3
WEB followed out by ALO – both on new prime tyres
VET going out on options, as do HAM and ROS
ALO 1:25.826 (prime)
WEB P2 on primes
VET 1:24.119 (options)
Both Mercedes back in the pits without setting a time
4mins left of Q3; only VET, WEB and ALO have set a time
ROS goes out on options again
2mins left; still only 3 times set
RAI P3 on options
VET going out on another new set of options – just a heat cycle?
PER P5 – primes
BUT P6 – primes
ROS P2 – options
HAM P3 – options
Chequered flag; order is VET, ROS, HAM, WEB, RAI, ALO, PER, BUT; no time from MAS or HUL
HUL P6 – options
MAS P5 – options
What a really strange Q3!
Front of the grid: VET, ROS, HAM, WEB, MAS, RAI, HUL, ALO, PER, BUT
There’s a mix of starting tyre compounds: VET, ROS, HAM, MAS, RAI & HUL on options, the others on primes – should make for an interesting first few laps tomorrow!
Provisional grid: VET, ROS, HAM, WEB, MAS, RAI, HUL, ALO, PER, BUT; RIC, DIR, SUT, VER, BOT, GUT; GRO, MAL, BIA, VDG, PIC, CHI.
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