Lewis Hamilton has claimed pole position with a 1.07.922 during a mixed final qualifying session, followed by Nico Rosberg who will receive a penalty.
The big surprise was Hulkenberg and Button who respectively qualified in third and fifth places, and with Rosberg and Vettel’s penalty the pairing will move up the grid – with Hulkenberg being on the front-row, and Jenson Button lining up in third place.
Story of the session
With grid penalties all through the field, despite Mercedes’ morning dramas, Hamilton set the early standard during his Q1 run. The British driver hit the 1m.06 mark, with a representative 1.06.947.
By the nine and a half minute mark Mercedes rebuild on Nico Rosberg’s car was complete, with the German driver heading onto the race track.
Scuderia Ferrari left it late, but when they departed for their first runs, Vettel went P2, being less than a tenth off the pace, whilst Raikkonen was 0.303 further back in the other Ferrari.
Despite Rosberg’s problems, he quickly stormed to the top of the time-sheets, with a representative 1.06.690, and 0.071 clear of Ferrari rival – Vettel.
After Perez’ run of success, the outlook started to darken for the Mexican driver. Sergio Perez had a broken suspension after his first Q1 run, and had to return to his garage. This incident resulted in game over for the Mexican driver.
Rosberg soon improved his advantage, setting a stunning 1.06.516.
The session was soon red-flagged after Daniil Kvyat crashed out at the final corner – after the Russian driver ran wide, wrecked his suspension and had a huge shunt.
Toro Rosso’s charge was further curtailed, once the session restarted, Carlos Sainz’ 2015-spec Ferrari engine gave up – making it near impossible for others to improve with the yellow flag.
The big surprise however came from Pascal Wehrlein who made the cut to Q2 for Manor Racing.
With the light going green for Q2, the field rushed out in anticipation of rain during the session. Rosberg was first to head to track, closely followed by Lewis Hamilton.
After the first Q2 runs, it was advantage Hamilton with team-mate Nico Rosberg getting caught up in traffic.
It was a strategic gamble by Scuderia Ferrari – they opted to run on the super-soft tyres in anticipation of a better race strategy following Vettel’s grid drop.
According to Pirelli, the super-soft tyres in 0.7s slower than the ultra-soft tyres, however Vettel was only 0.374s slower than the ultra-soft running Mercedes cars.
By the 2-minute mark, everybody had to head back to the garages as the rain arrives, as rightly predicted by world champions – Mercedes.
With the light going green for Q3 it was a rainy pole position shootout, and the two Ferrari’s were first to head to the track.
After the first wet runs, it was Vettel who had the edge over Hamilton, closely followed by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.
However after the second round of runs it was Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo who was on provisional pole position, and three tenths clear of Rosberg.
Hamilton soon pipped Daniel Ricciardo, but crucially it was Jenson Button who held provisional second place behind the Australian.
By the three-minute mark there was a stampede in the pits to put on a set of slick tyres in a bid to spring a surprise.
At the end it was Hamilton who claimed pole position for Mercedes, followed by Rosberg and then Nico Hulkenberg.