There are four races remaining of this season but Mercedes have already wrapped up the Constructors’ Championship, and the Drivers’ Championship is still a close battle between their two drivers, Hamilton and Rosberg, with ROS ahead by 33 points after his win in Japan.
The FIA have issued a rule clarification which says a driver who causes the following driver to take evasive action will be referred to the stewards, basically in response to VES’ penultimate lap defence against HAM in Japan.
They have also modified the blue flag system so to give a pre-warning when the faster car is within 3 seconds of the car about to be lapped, which should give them a heads up before the usual blue flag warnings.
Mercedes had to deal with a fuel system issue on HAM’s car yesterday.
Air temperature 23°C; track 33°C; wind 3.6km/h; dry, sunny and cloudless
Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
Interesting that some drivers are doing practice starts as they exit the pits; they’ve done this in a few recent races too, but it’s a fairly new process
Radio from NAS asking if there’s something wrong with the brakes because “it doesn’t feel right”
HAM 1:36.296 on supersoft tyres
Drivers running wide in Turn 19 with the new double rumble strips, but no mention of warnings or even investigations for exceeding track limits
5mins left of Q1; bottom 6 are GUT, OCO, WEH, ERI, BUT, NAS
In contrast, fastest through the speed trap are WEH (337.8 km/h), OCO, RAI, GRO, GUT; the Mercedes pair are 16th and 17th quickest and yet they top the lap times at the moment
Just BUT and NAS on track with 3:30 left of Q1
BUT improves to P16, relegating GRO to P17
NAS to P18
ERI to P13, pushing BUT back down to P17
GUT goes P15, so MAG now P17
Back of the grid: GRO, MAG, BUT, WEH, NAS, OCO
Radio from BUT complaining about the Renault (PAL) on the racing line in the last corner
Radio from PAL furious at his engineer for not being told BUT was closing on him; engineer says he didn’t see it
Qualifying session 2
ROS and HAM on softs for an early quick lap
HAM P2, by 0.099sec
PER on supersofts but 1.2sec slower than the Mercedes pair
RIC 1:36.255 on supersoft
Radio from ALO complaining about giving away 1.5 tenths on the straight
5mins left of Q2; bottom 6 are SAI, KVY and no time from ERI, GUT, MAS, PAL
SAI to P8, bumping ALO to P11
MAS goes P10, moving PER down to P11
Middle of the grid: PER, ALO, KVY, GUT, PAL, ERI
So ROS, HAM and RIC will start the race on supersoft; the rest of the top 10 will be on softs
Qualifying session 3
ROS runs wide at the start of his flying lap
HAM 1:35.370 beating the fastest ever lap time at Austin
5mins left of Q3; order is HAM, ROS, RIC, VES, VET, RAI and no time yet from BOT, HUL, MAS, SAI
Radio from HAM – a problem with shifting to 7th
Front of the grid: HAM, ROS, RIC, VES, RAI, VET, HUL, BOT, MAS, SAI
58th pole for HAM, but his first at this circuit
Provisional grid: HAM, ROS, RIC, VES, RAI, VET, HUL, BOT, MAS, SAI, PER, ALO, KVY, GUT, PAL, ERI, GRO, MAG, BUT, WEH, NAS, OCO.