Grand Prix of Brazil – Qualifying

In case you missed the update after the chequered flag in Mexico, here’s a quick recap: Verstappen crossed the finish line third, behind Hamilton and Rosberg. VES went to the pre-podium room but Ferrari had complained to the stewards about VES cutting a Turn 2; VES was given a five second penalty, so he dropped to P5. VES left the room and VET arrived, now in P3. The podium ceremonies took place, with HAM P1, ROS P2 and VET P3.
Some time after the podium, the stewards handed VET a ten second penalty for “driving dangerously or erratically” when he moved under braking to defend a move from Ricciardo. (Ironically this is the rule clarification which VET pushed for, pointing the finger at VES for making this move in more than one race.) So now VET is dropped to P5 and RIC is P3. Incidentally, SAI was also penalised – he received a five second penalty for forcing ALO off track – as was KVY.
Even as recently as yesterday the FIA were still trying to put an end to the arguing: “Formula One racing’s governing body, the FIA, has rejected Ferrari’s request to review the post-race penalty given to Sebastian Vettel at the last round of the season in Mexico. However, the team may yet appeal the decision.” [source: FIA]
Unusually Charlie Whiting joined the press conference to explain the stewards’ decisions. HAM did not gain an advantage when he cut the corner on the first lap. VES did gain an advantage and didn’t give the position to VET, so he was penalised.
So (for now?) the result of the Grand Prix of Mexico: HAM, ROS, RIC, VES*, VET*, RAI, HUL, BOT, MAS, PER; ERI, BUT, ALO, PAL, NAS, SAI*, MAG, KVY*, GUT, GRO, OCO; DNF: WEH.
Phew!

So, finally, to the Grand Prix of Brazil. Mercedes led all three Free Practice sessions:

  1. FP1: HAM (1:11.895), VES, ROS, RIC, BOT
  2. FP2: HAM (1:12.271), ROS, BOT, MAS, RIC
  3. FP3: ROS (1:11.740), HAM, VET, RAI, VES

The weather forecast looks like it might continue to be wet through the remainder of the race weekend.

Just ahead of the start of Qualifying, it looks like VET’s Ferrari might have a hydraulic problem.
It’s looking very windy and there’s a little rain in the air
12mins before Q1 and the Ferrari mechanics are still working on VET’s car
Air temperature 19°C; track 27°C; wind 15.8km/h; 70% chance of rain during Quali.

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
HAM first out of the garages; he’s on soft tyres
Sitting at the end of the pit lane behind HAM are ROS (also on softs) and about six more cars
Given the weather forecast, expect lots of activity early on in order to set a banker time
Radio for HAM warning him of increased tail wind into Turn 4
Was HAM blocked by RIC in the final turn? RIC was picking up pace for the start of his lap, and may even have given HAM a bit of a tow
HAM 1:11.511
ROS P2 – 1:11.815
Radio from HAM asking if they want him to do another lap; told no, box
As HAM and ROS head to the pits, there’s now 16 cars on track
11mins left of Q1; VET is the last to take to the track and goes P5
Spots of rain on the camera lens
7mins left of Q1; bottom 6 are BUT, WEH, OCO, NAS, ERI, MAG
5mins left; only GRO on track
Sounds like the rain has stopped; there’s even blue skies
3mins left; time for the bottom of the timing charts to get exciting as they battle to go through to Q2
BUT not improving on his P17 time
Chequered flag; bottom 6 are BUT, WEH, OCO, ERI, NAS, MAG
MAG P18
Radio from BUT – no front grip
More spots of rain
Radio for BUT telling him he’s P17; BUT sarcastically replies “we definitely got those problems sorted out then!”
Back of the grid: BUT, MAG, WEH, OCO, ERI, NAS

Qualifying session 2
Incident involving PAL and OCO will be investigated after the session – impeding
HAM and ROS on soft tyres again
HAM 1:11.238
ROS P2 again
5mins left of Q2; bottom 6 are MAS, SAI, KVY, PAL and no time from GRO or GUT
Hopefully MAS will make it to Q3 in his final home GP
Chequered flag; bottom 6 are MAS, PAL, SAI, KVY, GRO, GUT
MAS P9
HUL P8
GUT P11
PER P8
GRO P9
Middle of the grid: BOT, GUT, MAS, KVY, SAI, PAL

Qualifying session 3
Top 10 shootout is between HAM, ROS, VES, VET, RIC, RAI, ALO, PER, GRO & HUL
HAM 1:10.860
ROS P2 – 1:11.022
ALO P3
RAI P3
VES P3
VET P4
RIC P5
HUL P8
PER P9
6mins left of Q3; order is HAM, ROS, VES, VET, RIC, RAI, ALO, HUL, PER, no time yet from GRO
Spots of rain again
GRO P7
1min left; everyone bar GRO on track for a final flying lap
Chequered flag
HAM 1:10.736
RAI P3
ROS P2 🙂
PER P9
Front of the grid: HAM, ROS, RAI, VES, VET, RIC, GRO, HUL, PER, ALO

Mercedes 19th pole sets a new record
It’s also HAM’s 60th pole – only Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher have won more poles (65 & 68 respectively)
RAI calls his P3 lap time “pretty average” so hopefully he can improve on that and make it a good race tomorrow

Provisional grid: HAM, ROS, RAI, VES, VET, RIC, GRO, HUL, PER, ALO, HAM, ROS, RAI, VES, VET, RIC, GRO, HUL, PER, ALO, BUT, MAG, WEH, OCO, ERI, NAS.

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