With the cloud and fog clearing in time for Saturday, the second qualifying session of the season started slowly with the Sauber of Antonio Giovinazzi the first out on the circuit. His teammate Marcus Ericsson followed him out on the circuit, with Lance Stroll the first non-Sauber driver out.
The first run between the Sauber driver was advantage to Giovinazzi by nearly half a second, quickly eclipsed by Stroll. although he was only three tenths faster than the Italian. Renault’s Hulkenberg went another half second faster than with Magnussen in second. Massa in the second Williams then went second, with Grosjean spinning in front of Lewis Hamilton at the end of the front straight, although the British driver still took provisional pole position.
With Hamilton setting his fastest time on the supersoft tyre, Ferrari took the advantage with the soft tyre, two and half tenths faster than the Mercedes. Raikkonen was in third just behind Hamilton, with Bottas in fourth. Fernando Alonso’s first lap a second and a half down on the leaders, with Ricciardo going ahead of Felipe Massa, and Sainz in tenth.
With Alonso in ninth, it wasn’t great for Vandoorne who was half a second down on his teammate who described it as ‘driving like an animal’. Having not yet set a time Grosjean and Verstappen both returned back out on the circuit, Verstappen on a new set of the supersoft tyres. Stroll, Ocon and Palmer were also in the danger zone at the bottom of the order.
Stroll was the first over the line of that group, the Canadian going fifth fastest and a couple of tenths faster than his highly rated teammate. Verstappen was carrying a problem with the Red Bull and only went 17th, but went on for another lap. Vandoorne didn’t improve in the McLaren, while Giovinazzi crashed at the final corner which also effected Jolyon Palmer and Esteban Ocon who failed to improve.
The Italian would still get through to Q2 though, despite being minus two wheels in the middle of the track. Vandoorne, Grosjean, Palmer, Verstappen and Ocon all failed to get through to Q2.
Following a delay where the barrier needed a repair after the crash of Giovinazzi the second qualifying session started with Lance Stroll heading onto the circuit. Both Ferrari and Mercedes went out early for their first and possibly only runs in the fourteen minute session.
Raikkonen was fastest on a 1:32.6, with Stroll going second. Vettel quickly went two tenths faster than his teammate, with Hamilton just a hundredth of a second down on the leading Ferrari. Massa went sixth fastest, just ahead of Stroll. Despite the power deficit, Fernando Alonso was still doing amazing things in the McLaren in 11th.
With just three minutes remaining everyone below and including Felipe Massa returned to the circuit, and surprisingly Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. Hulkenberg went sixth fastest, with Kvyat up to eighth, while Ericsson only went 14th, and Magnussen 11th. Perez improved to 8th and Alonso remained 13th, which allowed Lance Stroll his first top ten start. Raikkonen went fastest in the process by two tenths.
Sainz, Magnussen, Alonso and Ericsson went out in Q2, and of course the Sauber of Giovinazzi who didn’t take part in the session.
Lewis Hamilton was the first of the leading drivers on the road in Q3, although it wasn’t a perfect lap. It was a 1:31.9 for Hamilton, with Bottas three tenths behind. Raikkonen went third, before his teammate splitting the two Mercedes drivers. The advantage to Hamilton, but with still time in hand, but so did Vettel who was pushed offline by a gust of wind.
Hamilton’s second lap was faster by two tenths, but Vettel was matching him. Bottas was the next over the line to go second fastest, and Raikkonen only stayed fourth. Vettel could only go second, splitting the two Mercedes by one thousandth of a second.