The qualifying hour started with a queue at the end of the pitlane, led by Manor, Mercedes and Williams. Rio Haryanto would lead the field away in the Manor with the cars making sure they have enough space between them. On the out lap there was a very large blow up for Felipe Nasr, with the engine broken the Sauber driver pulled to the side of the road bringing out the red flag.
With everyone heading back into the pits, the session was restarted with Haas leading the field away this time, followed by Mercedes and Ferrari. Grosjean led Gutierrez, with Hamilton only setting a slow lap. A number of other drivers including his teammate and the Ferrari drivers also did a slow first lap, with Palmer, Ericsson and Magnussen slower than the Haas drivers on a faster first lap.
Hamilton had traffic on his lap at the end , but did a 1:14.8 with Vettel four tenths slower. Rosberg was also slower, but only just, with Massa in fourth. Button then improved, only to be overtaken by Kvyat for Toro Rosso, half a second down on the Mercedes. Kimi Raikkonen, who will have to take a gearbox penalty could only go sixth. With nine minutes remaining everyone had set a lap apart from the two Red Bull drivers.
Raikkonen improved to fifth, with Vettel also improving to the top of the standings and faster than Hamilton who was also improving. Bottas improved, but only to seventh, while Ricciardo could only go fourth, and three tenths down. Sainz wasn’t faster than his teammate, a tenth down in sixth.
Max Verstappen who had yet to put in a representative time crashed on the exit of the second part of the swimming pool. He hit the kerb on the second part of the chicane, pitching him off into the outside wall. With debris all over the track the red flag was brought out once again. Replays showed that he hit the wall on the inside of the corner first which broke the steering arm, which then made him head straight for the wall.
The cars once again lined up at the end of the pitlane, led by those at the back of the field including both Renaults, Manors and Haas and Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard who had yet to set a time went thirteenth fatest and half a second away from teammate Button. Ericsson improved, but only on the bubble to 16th. Grosjean and Gutierrez both improved, with Magnussen then taking that 16th fastest. Massa also improved to 12th, despite getting traffic in the Williams right at the end of his lap. Perez improved to 5th and ahead of Hulkenberg in sixth, extremely close together the Force India’s.
Ericsson’s second time wasn’t good enough, so he was out, with Grosjean improving to 8th in the Haas, Gutierrez in 15th. Haryanto wasn’t eclipsed afterall by Wehrlein with Palmer also going out in qualifying.
Those who would leave qualifying included Nasr, Verstappen, Wehrlein, Haryanto, Palmer and Ericsson.
Q2 started with again a queue at the end of the pitlane, this time it was the Toro Rosso drivers leading the field away. Building up to a fast lap, the field had two warm up laps, several seconds off the pace. Kvyat went fastest only to be overtaken by his teammate Sainz before Vettel and then Hamilton set the pace. It was a 1:14.0 for Hamilton, with Rosberg four tenths slower than the British driver. Ricciardo was onlt just slightly slower than Rosberg, – Ricciardo, Vettel and Rosberg all within a tenth of a second.
At the bottom end of the order, Magnussen was in 14th and under investigation for going through a red light during the first session, with Grosjean and Gutierrez in 12th and 13th. Neither Button or Grosjean could improve on their second lap, while BOttas and Massa would start their laps. Bottas had an adventure at Rascasse enroute to 12th, while Massa only went 16th on his first lap. Massa only improved to 11th on his second lap.
Hamilton and Rosberg both went out for a second run, despite the British driver bring nearly half a second up on the field. Bottas, who was behind Massa could only go 11th, and just ahead of his teammate. Ricciardo went out on the super soft tyre went faster, with that being his race tyre in second place. Vettel also went faster than Ricciardo, although still not as faster as Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas pitted, with Massa doing the same at the end of the session, Williams not getting through Q2 in 11th and 12th. Raikkonen improved to 5th, with Gutierrez in 12th, Button in 13th and Perez improving to 8th. Magnussen could only stay in 16th and half a second off the pack.
Those who would drop out included Bottas, Gutierrez, Button, Massa, Grosjean and Magnussen.
The cars emereged into the pitlane for Q3, the final twelve minutes to find out who will be on pole position. Lewis Hamilton pulled over in the pitlane, with him telling the team over the radio that he had a problem with the engine and had no power. The team got to him to push him back down the pitlane, while his teammate was still in the pitbox. Both of the Force India drivers went out on the slightly harder super soft tyre.
Hulkenberg was the first to get a representative time, a 1:15.1, Perez a half second slower. It was Daniel Ricciardo who was really going all out for pole, he did a 1:13.6 – an amazing lap by the Australian. Vettel was almost a second slower, with Raikkonen going third. Hulkenberg was still fourth with Sainz fifth and Kvyat sixth. Rosberg had traffic behind Alonso, and was slightly slower than Ricciardo, three tenths down on Ricciardo.
Hamilton got out on the circuit, but out of sync with the other drivers with six minutes remaining. The first lap was a slow one, with Vettel, Raikkonen and Hulkenberg also then heading out onto their out laps. The second lap he was also coasting having caught Ricciardo as Casino Square.
Hulkenberg improved to fourth on his lap, splitting the Ferrari’s. Raikkonen didn’t improve, while Hamilton started to turn up the wick. An extraordinary lap from Hamilton put him only third, losing time in the final sector. Rosberg couldn’t improve either, leaving Ricciardo fastest and his first ever pole position.