The German won his fourth consecutive pole in qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix, showing the he still has some fight in a challenge that has been simmering in the Mercedes garage.
Rosberg’s best lap of 1 minute, 19.480 seconds was 0.188 seconds faster than Hamilton.
Jenson Button had no running at all due to McLaren not being able to figure out what the problem from FP3 was. During an interview he said that it was a system failure.
After his FP3 woes, Raikkonen was hit with a 5 place grid penalty for a gearbox change.
Most drivers left the pits straight away so that they could get at least one lap on the board as there was a threat of rain throughout all three sessions.
Stevens had a bad Q1 due to an diagnosed problem putting him out for over half of the session.Verstappen was the first man to set a lap time which was a representative 1:23.680.
Throughout the weekend, the soft tyres were the better compound to be on. But it was a shock to most people that both Saubers, Red Bulls and Nico Rosberg came out on the softer compound. Most people were sticking it out on the mediums for the session, saving the softs for Q2.
It took a while for the likes of Vettel, Maldonado, Grosjean, Raikkonen and Stevens to get a time down on the board.
Hamilton was brought back into the pits with five minutes left in the session, to the shock of many viewers. When he asked to go out again, his race engineer told him that he wouldn’t be going out until Q2.
Verstappen brought forward a rather controversial radio message of ‘Again, in the first three corners, Kvyat was holding me up’. It didn’t come to the attention of the race stewards and nothing was done.
Out in Q1
Unlike most Q2 sessions, the majority of the drivers wanted to be out straight away as the chance of rain was higher than that of in Q1.
Raikkonen didn’t manage to finish the session as, just a few minutes in he was forced to pit after spinning through turn 1 with a brake issue. He finished P15 and has to take a 5 place penalty.
Once again, it was Verstappen to set the first lap time of a 1:21.184, that was immediately pushed down by Hamilton’s 1:20.129.
Towards the end of the session, little spot of rain began falling but it never got any worse.
It was very close for Hulkenberg who just avoided the drop zone.
Out in Q2
|11||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||1:20.942||1.113||20|
Everyone but the Force India drivers were sent out. If it was going to rain more, they should have followed their rivals onto the track.
Rosberg set the fastest time of the session almost instantly with a 1:19.690 and never looked back. There were times when we thought Hamilton may have the edge, but the German kept going quicker and quicker.
Rosberg began to get a little frustrated when his race engineer said this ‘Remember strat two, remember strat two’ so he replied with a rather firm ‘do not repeat!’.
Hulkenberg had a similar only more heated incident with his race engineer. The German was unaware that he was on a timed lap and was going to slow to let Bottas through. His race engineer intervened. After Hulkenberg was told that he was 2.5 seconds down on the Fin he said ‘So I’ll have to let him past then if he’s pushing now’ to which his engineer replied ‘No you won’t, you’re pushing! You’re pushing! Do not do that! You’re pushing! We’re on a timed lap now, Nico. An obviously confused Hulkenberg asked ‘warm up lap?’.
His angry engineer shouted back down the radio ‘Shut up! It’s not a warm up lap, it’s a timed lap! Bottas is on a warm up lap behind you! I’ll tell you where the traffic is, you concentrate on driving!’.
We thought that Hamilton and Rosberg would be trading fastest laps, but Rosberg stole pole from the 3 time world champion with a 1:19.480.
So this is the lineup for tomorrows Mexico Grand Prix. (With penalties added on)
|4||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull||1:20.398||0.918||22|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:20.399||0.919||23|
|8||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||1:20.710||1.230||28|
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:20.716||1.236||22|
|10||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:20.788||1.308||21|
*Gearbox change, resulted five-place grid penalty
**Ten-place grid penalty for power unit components change
***70 plce grid penalty for widely changed power unit components, also he not take part in qualifying, so requires dispensation from the stewards to start
So, will Rosberg finally hold Hamilton off? Or will it be a first corner move that sees Hamilton take yet another win this season?