Clouds covered the sky and presented teams with a threat of rain at the start of qualifying. Teams radioed that rain was on its way to the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo Brazil and it could play a role in determining who snatched pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix which marks its 36th running at the Interlagos circuit.
All the teams were immediately out as the session turned green and the threat of rain was rated at 60% so it was crucial to get banker laps in early. Initial laps were led by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen followed by Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel did manage to claw into third on his second hot lap, but it was enough to get ahead of Lewis Hamilton. At this point, the drivers began reporting light drops of rain. With 7:30 left in the session, both Sauber’s were in 9th and 10th but the McLaren’s and Toro Rosso’s were struggling to stay out of the elimination zone.
Both Renault and Force India were hovering around the elimination zone and as the time wore on, Force India managed to jump into 13th and 15th and that was enough to kick Carlos Sainz’s Renault into 16th and just into the elimination zone. A point of interest was Sergey Sirtokin besting his teammate, Lance Stroll, in his Williams to advance to Q2.
Out in Q1: Vandoorne, Stroll, Alonso, Hartley and Sainz (the third time this season he’s been eliminated in Q1).
Much like Q1, the teams were expecting rain soon (this time within four minutes) and that meant that the first laps may be the best the session would have. All the teams were out early for their banker lap. Raikkonen pitted to fit soft Yellow’s on and it seemed that Vettel was doing the same but he was held by the FIA stewards for a weigh-in.
IF the first laps were to be the fastest, then perhaps Ferrari were making a quick change to Softs in order to catch the other teams out but there was lots of traffic and that was hindering their efforts. Regardless, Raikkonen managed 4th fastest and Vettel tipped in at 2nd place with 9:30 to go in the session. Could Ferrari catch the others out and start the race on Softs?
Lewis Hamilton had two incidents where he was hindering Raikkonen slightly at the beginning of Kimi’s lap and then more egregiously against Sergey Sirtokin who nearly collided with Lewis as the champ tried to move out of the Russian’s way. Certainly nothing intended but just the wrong place at the wrong time and the wrong move to get out of the way.
Mercedes switched their cars to Soft tires but were too late to set their fastest lap on the Yellow Pirelli’s so they would not start on the Softs for the race. It seemed Ferrari’s strategy worked perfectly.
Charles Leclerc struggled to get into the top 10 while his teammate, Marcus Ericsson did manage the feat by running in 8th. An equally good initial lap for Pierre Gasly who slotted into 9th. A poor result for both Force India’s and Renault’s eliminated in Q2.
A terrific final effort from Leclerc to make one final attempt even though the team told him to box. Charles managed to move himself into Q3 even though the track had lost 10 degrees in temperature and a lot of grip. A terrific result!
A bit of controversy clouded the session and Ferrari’s strategy during the weighbridge session for Vettel as he was accused of not turning his engine off for the weigh-in which is the procedure. Video review seemed to suggest that he did turn the engine off but re-started it by using the battery power. The incident was referred to the FIA and Sky Sports reported that it was a rules breach on Vettel’s part.
Out in Q2: Sirtokin (Which may be argued that he was nearly hit by Hamilton but Sergey was in out-lap mode regardless), Hulkenberg, Ocon, Perez and Magnussen
The threat of rain had been hanging around the neck of the Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying session and while it spit on and off throughout the first two session, no heavy rain came in either Q1 or Q2. Would Q3 see more spots of drizzle or would it start to rain proper?
The track seemed dry as Kimi Raikkonen nipped his teammate with a lap record of 1:07.374 for provisional pole but that was eclipsed by Lewis Hamilton by just .073s. Valtteri Bottas slotted in 3rd ahead of Raikkonen.
The teams boxed in preparation for their final runs with just 4:30 left in the session. Red Bull were holding 5th and 6th followed by both Saubers—Ericsson leading Leclerc—and then Romain Grosjean’s Haas and Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso. Could Lewis Hamilton hold on to what would be the 100th pole position for Mercedes?
With under 1:00 left, all the cars came out for their final flying laps. The good news was that the rain hadn’t materialized but that didn’t help Bottas, Raikkonen or Vettel and Lewis held onto to pole by increasing his lead by .093s over Vettel.
Sebastian Vettel was fined €25,000 for the weighbridge incident.
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m07.778s||0.497s|
|9||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m09.029s||1.748s|
|11||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m07.780s||0.499s|
|12||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m08.741s||1.460s|
|16||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m09.280s||1.999s|
|18||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m08.770s||1.489s|