Japanese Grand Prix – Qualifying

Hamilton took the lead in the Drivers’ Championship following his win (and Rosberg’s DNF) in the Singapore GP.

There were no penalties carried over from that race, but Maldonado and Verne have each been handed a 10-place grid penalty after using a sixth engine of the season. [source: FIA]

“Silly Season” is finally here – news (and rumours) of where the drivers will be next season are starting to circulate. Alonso is leaving Ferrari; rumour is he’s heading to McLaren. Vettel is moving from Red Bull to Ferrari. Kvyat is moving up from Toro Rosso to Red Bull. [sources: BBC, FIA]

My GridBids picks for the race are: ROS, HAM, ALO, BUT & HUL.

Typhoon Phanfone is threatening to hit during the race weekend but at least it’s dry for Quali.

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
(I missed the first few minutes thanks to TSN showing American Football which ran late)
HAM 1:33.611 with ROS P2, followed by BOT, MAS & ALO
8mins left of Q1; bottom 6 are GRO, PER, ERI, BIA, KOB, CHI
CHI jumps ahead of KOB but almost immediately KOB moves up to P20
Radio for BUT – on the threshold (P7 but times are improving) so will prepare for another run
BIA to P19
3mins left of Q1; bottom 6 are GRO, PER, BIA, ERI, KOB, CHI
PER up to P10; relegates SUT to P17
GRO to P16; GUT to P17
MAL hit the kerbs pretty hard into the chicane and then fought to keep it on track
Chequered flag; bottom 6 are GUT, SUT, BIA, ERI, KOB, CHI
GUT to P12; GRO to P17
SUT to P16; MAL to P17
ERI ahead of BIA
Back of the grid will be MAL*, GRO, ERI, BIA, KOB, CHI
*MAL’s penalty will drop him to P22 but he’ll still have 5 more grid spots to drop in future races.

Qualifying session 2 (Q2)
Radio for ROS – fuelled for 2 times laps
SUT 1:36.656
PER 1:35.089
BOT 1:33.801
ROS 1:32.950
HAM P2, slower by 0.032 sec but he had a small lock up into the hairpin
5mins left; bottom 6 are VET, RIC, VER, HUL, GUT, SUT
Everyone except ROS and HAM are on track for a final flying lap
Chequered flag
VET to P7, KVY to P11
RIC to P7, PER to P11
SUT up to P14
HUL up to P13
VER up to P11
Middle of the grid: VER, PER, KVY, HUL, SUT, GUT

Qualifying session 3 (Q3)
So the top 10 shoot out is between ROS, HAM, BOT, MAS, ALO, MAG, RIC, BUT, RAI & VET
BOT 1:33.329
MAS P2
ROS 1:32.629
MAG P4
HAM P2
ALO P5
VET P7
RIC P7
BUT P8
6mins left of Q3; order is ROS, HAM, BOT, MAS, ALO, MAG, RIC, BUT, VET, RAI* (*no time)
Everyone pits; prep for final run
VET P6
RIC P6
BOT still P3
Chequered flag
RAI P9
ROS 1:32.506
MAG P7
BUT P8
ALO P5
HAM still P2
Front of the grid: ROS, HAM, BOT, MAS, ALO, RIC, MAG, BUT, VET, RAI

Provisional grid: ROS, HAM, BOT, MAS, ALO, RIC, MAG, BUT, VET, RAI, [VER*] PER, KVY, HUL, SUT, GUT, [MAL*] GRO, ERI, BIA, KOB, VER, CHI, MAL.
*VER and MAL both have engine penalties; the remaining 5 grid spot penalty for MAL will be waiting for him at the next race.

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