Mercedes are going to have a very interesting race weekend following the “racing incident” at Spa when Rosberg “took out” Hamilton … and of course the teammates have quite different views on what happened. The senior guys at Mercedes we quick to point the finger at ROS; they said “suitable disciplinary measures have been taken for the incident” and that another similar incident “will not be tolerated”, with Toto Wolff saying “We would have to take decisions and take the consequences of having a different line-up”.
HAM was fastest (1:26.187) in Free Practice 1, followed by BUT, ROS, ALO and MAG. However an electrical problem caused HAM to miss the first 60 minutes of FP2. This time ROS was quickest (1:26.225) then HAM, RAI, ALO and BOT. HAM topped the times in FP3 (1:25.519) followed by ALO, BOT, MAS, BUT and VET; meanwhile ROS had a gearbox problem and missed the whole session.
My GridBids picks for the race are: VET, ROS, HAM & BUT.
Tyre compounds: prime = hard (orange lettering), option = medium (white)
Air temperature 25°C; track 44°C; humidity 54%; it’s partly cloudy but dry
Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
The two Marussia cars (BIA & CHI) are first to head onto the track
Lotus mechanics continue to work on a fluid leak on GRO’s car
Both Marussias are back in the pits after a sighter lap
Looks like RAI has abandoned his lap
10mins left of Q1; bottom 6 are ERI, BUT, MAG, RIC, BOT, GRO
Big lock up for KVY into Turn 1
ALO cuts the first chicane
VET makes the same error
Radio from HAM – “that was a pretty shocking lap”
ROS cuts the first chicane
Radio from ROS asking if his time is good enough?
GRO finally makes it out of the pits
5mins left of Q1; bottom 6 are BIA, SUT, KOB, CHI, ERI, GRO
Top 10 are all on primes but KVY and down have all moved to options
ROS cuts the final chicane
2mins left; bottom 6 are MAL, BIA, GRO, KOB, CHI, ERI
Both Lotus drivers struggling
Radio for MAL – don’t change gear
GRO manages a small improvement but only P18
Back of the grid: MAL, GRO, KOB, BIA, CHI, ERI
Forgot to mention earlier: ROS’s mechanics didn’t need to change his gearbox after all, so no penalty.
However KVY has a 10 grid spot penalty; Toro Rosso are using a 6th engine in his car, exceeding the season limit. Note the penalty has an unusual rule: “If the Russian qualifies too low down on the grid for the full 10-place penalty to be applied, he’ll drop the remaining number of grid slots at the next race in Singapore.” [source: FIA]
Qualifying session 2 (Q2)
HUL first out of the pit lane; he’s on primes, which will almost certainly be the case for everyone in Q2
(BOT just 0.2sec behind ROS)
ALO has a big moment entering Parabolica
5mins left of Q2; bottom 6 are MAG, KVY, VER, HUL, GUT, SUT
Everyone in the pits, preparing for a final run
RAI goes early, so he’ll have a clear track
No he won’t – the rest of the field are streaming out of the pits
RAI locks up into Turn 1 then runs wide out of the first chicane; aborts his quick lap
(MAG P10, relegating RAI)
Replay shows PER run very wide out of Ascari
Middle of the grid: KVY*, RAI, VER, HUL, SUT, GUT
*KVY’s penalty will drop him to P21
Qualifying session 3 (Q3)
Top 10 shootout is between HAM, ROS, BOT, MAS, ALO, BUT, VET, PER, RIC and MAG
PER first on track; everyone else bides their time in the pits
Everyone on track now
5mins left of Q3; order is HAM, ROS, BOT, MAS, BUT, VET, ALO, MAG, RIC, PER
Everyone pits for new tyres for their final fast lap
3mins left; time to head back on track
BUT is the last to leave the pits
Front of the grid: HAM, ROS, BOT, MAS, MAG, BUT, ALO, VET, RIC, PER
Provisional grid: HAM, ROS, BOT, MAS, MAG, BUT, ALO, VET, RIC, PER, KVY*, RAI, VER, HUL, SUT, GUT, MAL, GRO, KOB, BIA, CHI, ERI.
*KVY’s penalty will drop him to P21.