After Hamilton’s victory in China, his 10th consecutive race podium, two penalties were handed out: Button had five seconds added to his race time and was docked two penalty points after accepting blame for his late coming-together with Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado; and Marussia’s Roberto Merhi was also docked two penalty points, and received a five-second time penalty, after failing to stay above the required time set by governing body the FIA during the late safety car period. Neither penalty affected the points awarded to HAM, ROS, VET, RAI, MAS, BOT, GRO, NAS, RIC & ERI.
Surprisingly neither Mercedes was in the top 10 quickest cars in Free Practice 1 (FP1) – fastest was RAI (1:37.827), followed by VET, BOT, SAI and RIC. BUT parked his McLaren after an electrical problem.
FP2 followed more a usual form: ROS (1:34.647), HAM, RAI, VET, BOT, RIC, MAL. Despite it being Free Practice, PER tried to dive inside NAS but collided with VET; the stewards determined that neither the Ferrari driver nor Perez was to blame. Additionally HAM and RAI passed a queue of cars on the inside at the exit of the pit lane at the end of the session is still being looked at – with RAI reprimanded “for driving in a manner deemed to be dangerous in the pit lane”.
FP3: MAL lost a piece of bodywork; KVY spun off, causing red flags while they extract his car from the gravel trap; fastest was HAM (1:34.599), VET, ROS, RAI, BOT, MAS, MAL, RIC, HUL, NAS.
Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
RAI is first out of the pit lane
Lots of sparks from the car bottoming out, more visible than usual thanks to this being run at dusk
Everyone except STE on the harder tyre (medium compound)
Radio from RAI – lots of vibration, presumably due to him locking up into Turn 1
Some of the expected front runners now going out on options (soft compound)
BUT has parked his McLaren without setting a time 🙁
Yellow flags for BUT’s car, while the marshals push it behind the barriers
Unlike in China, the marshals move the car without hitting a wall 🙂
GRO fighting with his Lotus – lots of oversteer
7mins left; only BUT and VET yet to set a time (and BUT won’t now)
ROS leaves the pits on options, so if Mercedes are on soft tyres everyone will need them if the want to get in to Q2
5mins left; bottom 5 are MAL, STE, MER, VET*, BUT* (*no time)
VET 1:34.919 (VES relegated to P16)
1min left; bottom 5 are VES, MAL, STE, MER, BUT*
Radio from MAS complaining about traffic
Back of the grid: MAL, KVY, STE, MER, BUT*
*BUT will need approval from the stewards but ought to be OK to race tomorrow
Qualifying session 2 (Q2)
Green lights but no-one rushing to get on track
2.5mins in to Q2, PER first out of the pits
5mins left; no time from RAI, VET, ALO, NAS, ERI
Middle of the grid: PER, NAS, ERI, ALO, VES
Qualifying session 3 (Q3)
Top 10 shootout is between HAM, RAI, MAS, VET, ROS, BOT, GRO, RIC, HUL & SAI
Used options for many runners
5mins left; order is HAM, RIC, ROS, BOT, VET, RAI, MAS, GRO; no time from SAI or HUL
Front of the grid: HAM, VET, ROS, RAI, BOT, MAS, RIC, HUL, SAI, GRO
Provisional grid: HAM, VET, ROS, RAI, BOT, MAS, RIC, HUL, SAI, GRO; PER, NAS, ERI, ALO, VES; MAL, KVY, STE, MER, BUT*