With neither of the Mercedes driver’s setting a qualifying simulation, it was Red Bull who topped the time sheets. They showed, once again, that they are the closest team to Mercedes this weekend with Max Verstappen leading Daniel Ricciardo home for a one-two at the end of the session.
It had been close between the Red Bull duo throughout the session, with them being split by under a tenth of a second at one point. But it was Verstappen who took the advantage going into qualifying, setting the pace with a 1:36.766. Ricciardo was 0.266 seconds off his teammate’s pace, with both setting these times on the supersoft tyres during their final qualifying simulations at the end of the session.
Kimi Raikkonen took third position, also having completed a super-soft, low fuel run at the end of the session. He was over half a second down on the Red Bulls and has been complaining about the balance of the Ferrari all weekend.
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg did not complete low fuel, supersoft runs. It is unknown as to whether this was to hide their performance or just because the team ran out of time in the session. Because of this, the pair ended fourth and fifth, having only completed fast laps on the soft compound of tyre.
Hamilton’s team broke curfew last night to change the fuel system on his car. The Brit will not receive any penalties for this part change. He was faster than his teammate by about 3 tenths of a second before the super-soft runs from the other teams pushed him down the top ten. The Brit just about crossed the line before the chequered flag dropped to start his super-soft qualifying run, but being held up by Felipe Nasr halfway through the lap saw him bail out.
The Brit just about crossed the line before the chequered flag dropped to start his super-soft qualifying run, but being held up by Felipe Nasr halfway through the lap saw him bail out. Rosberg had set off on his super-soft run earlier but bailed out after setting a personal best first sector and a fastest overall sector two.
Sebastian Vettel finished the session sixth fastest but spent most of the second half in the garage. He had reported a potential gearbox issue to Ferrari, saying he had a problem when in fifth gear. The team opted to not send him back out and he finished 1.128 seconds off the pace.
Nico Hulkenberg continued to outperform his teammate Sergio Perez as he finished seventh. Valtteri Bottas and the McLaren duo – lead by Jenson Button – rounded off the top ten.
It was an odd session for Carlos Sainz Jr as he suffered two rear punctures within forty minutes of running. First, his right rear picked up a puncture on his second lap, then after returning to the pits and changing to the super-softs it was his left rear that deflated. He failed to conduct a qualifying simulation due to the punctures and the team checking out his car. He finished 15th having only completed 6 laps.
There was only one delay to running which was caused by Pascal Wehrlein. He brought out the red flag for ten minutes as he spun his Manor at Turn 19 and got it beached in the gravel.