With clouds forming around the circuit, qualifying started with Pascal Wehrlein starting the train of cars heading out. The Manor driver had an engine problem in the final practice session, but did go on to be the first to set a lap time.
Rosberg was the first of the leaders to set a time, a 1:34.460 of which Lewis Hamilton went ever so slightly faster. Jenson Button had a spin in his McLaren, but went on to set a lap time thirteen seconds off the pace. Vettel went on to do a 1:35.5, to go third while his teammate was in fourth. They were then separated by Kevin Magnussen in the Renault and then Grosjean in the Haas. Nico Hulkenberg went third, with Verstappen in fourth, only to be displaced by his teammate and Sergio Perez.
After Magnussen had his good lap, teammate Palmer went off the road, while the wing mirror of Romain Grosjean’s Haas came off. Button on his second lap improved to 12th for McLaren with Alonso down in 18th and not expected to improve given the engine penalties. Raikkonen improved on the medium tyres to seventh, with Vettel now down to eighth. Bottas improved to fifth in the Williams, with Massa slotting in behind, the pair less than a second behind the leaders.
Palmer, after his excursion got just out of the drop zone in 16th which would lead for an extra run. It forced the Ferrari drivers in 9th and 10th to go out again to secure their position, along with most of those below them apart from Fernando Alonso. Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon improved to take them off the bottom of the order. Raikkonen improved to third on the soft tyre, Vettel in fourth but such a small gap between them. Jenson Button improved to 10th, and Nasr to 16th. Ericsson also improved, but the pair of them fell into the bottom six. Grosjean improved to 11th and was the final car over the line.
Those out in the first part of qualifying included: Ericsson, Nasr, Palmer, Ocon, Wehrlein and Alonso.
It was a slow start to the second session, with Mercedes taking advantage of an empty track. Rosberg the first on the road, but it was Hamilton the faster of the pair by half a second. Hulkenberg went third quickest, but was 1.7 seconds behind the Mercedes. Verstappen and Ricciardo went third and fourth for Red Bull, while Jenson Button went sixth. Bottas then took fifth, which was then taken by Perez although the gap between the championship rivals was extremely slim. Massa went ahead of that group though by just over a tenth of a second, but the Ferrari’s had yet to come.
Vettel, the first Ferrari on the road took fifth and behind the Red Bull drivers, with Raikkonen beating him just a tenth of a second but still behind Ricciardo. Locking up in the final corner, Bottas didn’t improve. Button did though to get up to 8th, while Hulkenberg improved to 9th and Perez stayed in 10th.
Those who went out in the second part of qualifying included Bottas, Grosjean, Gutierrez, Magnussen, Kvyat and Sainz.
The first runs in the third part of qualifying with Verstappen ahead of Vettel, Raikkonen though couldn’t get ahead of the Red Bull to go second. Ricciardo also had a good lap, just a tenth away from his teammate. It was a difficult lap for Rosberg and only went fourth in his Mercedes, while Hamilton went half a second clear of the field. Of the top ten only Jenson Button decided not to go out for a first run, with the Force India propping up the back of the smaller field.
Rosberg went out early for his second run, with Hamilton also going out to defend the provisional pole position. It wasn’t an amazing first sector by the German, who then remained a tenth off at the second. Hamilton gave up after a poor first sector, although Rosberg lost the sear into the final corner to go second. Verstappen couldn’t improve to better third, while Ricciardo couldnt do anything either. Vettel went fifth, and ended up beating his teammate who ended up in sixth. Jenson Button ended up ninth.