Following some close times in FP3, anticipation was high for a close qualifying session with several battles throughout the field along with a range of rookies trying to make their mark. This was a high-pressure session and not without incident.
Dry weather for todays session, the cars following a running order similar to FP3. Grosjean spinning off on the final corner, flat spotting his tyres then limping back to the pits, while Hamilton goes fastest. The Mercedes and Ferrari’s trading places in these early laps. Meanwhile Max Verstappen explaining on the radio that the engine didn’t sound right, he was then quick to enter the pits, almost too quickly as the car nearly span out while taking the left hander in the pit lane. Alonso on the radio to the team that he was “pushing like an animal” in getting the most out of his McLaren which was sitting 9th at that point in the session. While Max was continuing to encounter issues with the engine, the team informing him to use different engine modes. Giovinazzi crashing his Sauber on the final corner at the end of the session, this destroying the laps of all cars still on the circuit including Max and requiring a break in the session for a major clean up.
The top 4 setting a safe time in the first part of the session, this leaving the core session focused on the mid-team battels. Alonso with a creditable 13th, Carlos Sainz missing out in 11th while Lance Stroll makes it to Q3 for the first time, an important result for the rookie though still 4 tenths behind his team mate. Kimi coming out late in the session to set the fastest time while Vettel lifts in front of the, still keeping his true pace under wraps but surprising to see Ferrari take to the track at all given the gap.
Lewis out quickly but overdriving his car, still with the fastest lap but more to come from the Mercedes. The Ferrari’s and Bottas close behind, we see Lance Stroll on track during a quieter moment in the session, putting his Williams in 10th but 7 tenths behind his team mate, while Nico Hulkenberg made a creditable 7th. Daniel 5th but some way behind the front 4, Red Bull are bound to be disappointed with their lack of pace, but expect to see gains made throughout the season. A close session throughout, the battle for the lead is back on with Lewis leaving nothing on the table in holding off a storming Sebastian Vettel who just pipped Bottas to second on the grid. So, a similar grid for the second race in a row, but with rain forecast on race day we look forward to an unpredictable session.