Belgian F1 GP: Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton extends pole streak at Spa
Lewis Hamilton claimed his 10th pole position in 11 Formula 1 races this year by comfortably defeating Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix.
Rosberg was narrowly faster than team-mate Hamilton in Q2 at Spa, but the reigning world champion reversed the situation by a massive 0.446 seconds after their respective first runs in Q3, then lowered his benchmark time to a 1m47.197s on his second run to secure pole.
In doing so Hamilton became the first driver to score six pole positions in a row in a single season since Mika Hakkinen in 1999 and also clinched the FIA pole trophy for 2015.
Rosberg also improved on his second run, but he dropped almost half a second to his title rival in sector two of the circuit, which runs from Les Combes through the double left-hander at Pouhon to the right-hander at Stavelot, so wound up second best again.
Ferrari would normally be expected to fill row two of the grid, but Sebastian Vettel could only lap ninth fastest in his SF15-T, while team-mate Kimi Raikkonen failed to make it into Q3 at all after his car broke down on track with what the team believes was a loss of oil pressure.
Mercedes-powered Williams, Lotus and Force India thus filled the next three places on the timesheet, as Valtteri Bottas, Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez all lapped to the same tenth of a second, but well over a second adrift of Hamilton.
The Renault powered Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top six, ahead of the second Williams of Felipe Massa and the second Lotus of Pastor Maldonado.
Carlos Sainz Jr’s Toro Rosso rounded out the top 10, albeit well adrift of the rest of the Q3 runners.
Perez had set a stunning fourth-best time in Q2, but Nico Hulkenberg failed to make the top 10, finishing up over three tenths adrift of his Force India team-mate in 11th.
Red Bull’s Daniel Kvyat was another surprise failure in Q2, finishing up 12th, ahead of Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber.
Raikkonen ended up 14th, ahead of the Toro Rosso of Max Verstappen, who took not part in Q2 after suffering a suspected loss of power with his Renault engine in Q1.
Sauber’s Felipe Nasr was the big loser among the tight midfield battle in Q1.
Verstappen’s Toro Rosso was vulnerable thanks to a suspected loss of power early on in his final flying lap, but Nasr fell short of beating the Dutch teenager by 0.121s, so wound up 16th.
Jenson Button was a second further back in the best of the two McLaren-Hondas.
The 2009 world champion described his 1m50.978s effort as "the best lap I’ve done for a long time", but it was only good enough for 17th place.
Team-mate Fernando Alonso was nearly half a second adrift in the other MP4-30, after sitting out the final practice session with an exhaust leak.
Will Stevens won the private battle of the Manor/Marussias at the bottom of the timesheet, beating team-mate Roberto Merhi by 0.151s.
|5||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m48.599s||1.402s|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m48.639s||1.442s|
|10||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m49.771s||2.574s|
|11||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m49.121s||–|
|12||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||1m49.228s||–|
|18||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||–||–|
Belgian F1 GP: Lewis Hamilton heads practice three for Mercedes
Mercedes Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton set an impressive pace as he topped the timesheets in final practice for the Belgian Grand Prix ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg.
The reigning F1 world champion clocked a 1m48.984s to finished 0.498 seconds quicker than his title rival, who was fastest in both practice sessions on Friday.
Ferrari proved to be Mercedes’ closest challenger at a gloriously sunny Spa Francorchamps, with Sebastian Vettel third and his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen fourth.
Sergio Perez set the fastest final sector as he ended up fifth, two tenths and three places clear of team-mate Nico Hulkenberg to suggest Force India can aim for the final part of qualifying later on Saturday.
The Red Bull drivers and Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen, who will start towards the back of the grid because of a 10-place grid penalty for an engine change, completed their soft tyre qualifying-simulations early in the session.
That allowed them to spend the rest of the session to gathering long-run data, making up for the red flag disruptions in Friday’s second practice.
Daniel Ricciardo was sixth quickest, 0.050s ahead of Red Bull team-mate Daniil Kvyat, with Verstappen 13th overall.
The Williams of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa completed the top 10 ahead of Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr in 11th and Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado in 12th.
It was a difficult day for McLaren-Honda, whose cars are already destined to stat at the back of the grid following a host of engine penalties.
Fernando Alonso managed just a single installation lap before returning to the garage.
The team stripped down the car in a bid to get to the root of the problem, which chief operating officer Jonathan Neale suggested could be an exhaust gas leak, and failed to get him back out..
His team-mate Jenson Button managed more running, completing 12 laps, but finished 17th, 2.997s off the pace.
Sauber, which has the 2015-spec Ferrari engine for the first time this season, was quick on Friday, but Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson failed to repeat that form, ending practice three 14th and 15th respectively.
Romain Grosjean was 16th quickest, but complained to his team on the radio that he was baulked badly by Raikkonen, who was cruising slowly back to the pits.
Following Rosberg’s rear tyre failure at high speed in second practice, which Pirelli determined not to be a structural integrity issue, final practice passed without further incident.
PRACTICE THREE TIMES:
|5||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m49.866s||0.882s||15|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m49.930s||0.946s||20|
|7||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||1m49.980s||0.996s||19|
|8||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m50.000s||1.016s||15|
|11||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m50.552s||1.568s||20|
|13||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m50.599s||1.615s||21|
Kimi rather pleased despite loss of track time
Kimi Raikkonen: “The day was not too bad, even if our programme was a bit affected by the red flags, but then it was the same for everybody. In the end we were able to do all the work we had planned. Regarding the tires we had had a little bit of blistering in the front, which obviously was not ideal, but not a disaster either, there are many things we can do for this. Tomorrow we’ll try our best and see what we can do for Sunday.”
Belgian GP: Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg tops practice before tyre blows
Mercedes Formula 1 driver Nico Rosberg set the pace in second Belgian Grand Prix practice before a spectacular rear-tyre blowout at high-speed ended his session early.
Rosberg, who led the way in first practice, clocked a time of 1m49.687s, 0.302 seconds faster than Hamilton on the soft tyres with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo four tenths further back.
Rosberg set the early pace on the medium tyres and maintained that advantage when he bolted on the softs for his qualifying-simulation before turning his attention to long-run data gathering.
However, with a little under 30 minutes to go, Rosberg’s rear-tyre exploded, sending the German into a spin approaching Blanchimont. He managed to keep the car out of the tyre wall.
Replays seemed to suggest a blister eventually started to fray and eventually resulted in the tyre shredding off the wheel.
Rosberg climbed out of the car unscathed, but the red flag was brought out while marshals cleared away the stricken Mercedes.
The session restarted 10 minutes later, but the red flag was called into action again shortly after the restart when Marcus Ericsson ran wide on the exit of Pouhon, which snapped the car into oversteer and into the barrier.
"I’m OK," said Ericsson, who finished eighth fastest, on team radio. "I hit the wall hard, I’m sorry guys."
Unusually beautiful conditions continued at Spa for second practice, with the air and track temperature 23C and 39C respectively and only a breath of wind in the air.
Red Bull proved to be Mercedes’ closest challengers with Ricciardo third quickest, 0.751s off the pace, and team-mate Daniil Kvyat three tenths further adrift.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who traditionally runs well at Spa, was fifth quickest ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India.
After missing first practice as Jolyon Palmer was in the Lotus, Romain Grosjean was seventh ahead of the Sauber duo of Ericsson and Felipe Nasr, who are running the 2015-spec Ferrari engine for the first time this season.
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel completed the top 10, ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez.
Carlos Sainz Jr pipped Toro Rosso team-mate Max Verstappen to 12th.
Williams, which typically does not show its true pace on a Friday, finished down the pecking order with Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa 14th and 16th respectively.
They were split by Pastor Maldonado, whose Lotus team did an impressive job to fix his car after his first practice crash and get him out for the final hour of the session.
McLaren’s Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, who will start from the back of the field on Sunday after taking big engine penalties, were 17th and 18th with the Manors propping up the timesheets.
PRACTICE TWO TIMES:
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m50.136s||0.751s||15|
|4||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||1m50.399s||1.014s||18|
|6||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m50.461s||1.076s||21|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m50.971s||1.586s||21|
|12||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m51.037s||1.652s||24|
|13||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m51.117s||1.732s||25|
Belgian GP: Nico Rosberg leads Lewis Hamilton in first Spa practice
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg set the fastest time in the opening Formula 1 practice session for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.
The German overcame early problems with his car to record the quickest lap ahead of his team-mate Lewis Hamilton by 0.242 seconds.
Daniel Ricciardo was third fastest in his Red Bull, ahead of the two Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.
Sixth at the end of the 90 minute morning session, held in dry, sunny conditions, was Danill Kvyat in the second Red Bull – just 0.878s behind first-placed Rosberg – and ahead of the two Toro Rosso machines of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr.
Sergio Perez was ninth in his Force India, while the two Williams of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa ended practice one in 10th and 14th place respectively.
The session was red-flagged after 50 minutes when Pastor Maldonado spun exiting the right-hander at Turn 7.
He lost the rear of his Lotus at the right-hander coming out of Les Combes and crossed the circuit smashing the right-front off his car, thereby bringing the session to a halt for 10 minutes while the marshals repaired the tyre barriers.
He finished with the 11th-quickest time.
There was concern for world championship contender Rosberg at the beginning of the session, as he appeared to lose drive entering Blanchimont.
He retuned to the pits where his mechanics investigated the problem with the engine on his Mercedes and half an hour later he was back on track with the issues seemingly resolved.
Briton Jolyon Palmer was the only reserve driving running this morning and took over Romain Grosjean’s Lotus seat for the opening session, recording the 17th fastest time.
The two McLaren-Hondas of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button finished down the order in 16th and 18th.
PRACTICE ONE TIMES:
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m51.373s||0.291s||18|
|6||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||1m51.960s||0.878s||18|
|7||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m52.158s||1.076s||27|
|8||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m52.421s||1.339s||26|
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m52.423s||1.341s||20|
|12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m52.614s||1.532s||20|
Hungarian GP qualifying: Lewis Hamilton takes comfortable pole
Lewis Hamilton comfortably claimed pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix, by beating Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg for the ninth time in 10 Formula 1 qualifying sessions this season.
Rosberg complained about the handling of his car throughout the different stages of qualifying and couldn’t recover sufficiently to put up much of a fight.
Hamilton and Rosberg were separated by 0.358s after the first runs in Q3, and the German ended up over half a second adrift of Hamilton, who set the fastest lap of the weekend so far on his final effort to claim his fifth career pole in Hungary.
The expected close fight for best of the rest behind Mercedes materialised, as less than half a second covered Ferrari, Red Bull and Williams in Q2.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel ultimately claimed third on the grid, but he ended up only 0.035s clear of the improved Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo.
The second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen finished up 0.246s further back in fifth, while Valtteri Bottas was fastest of the two Williams drivers in sixth.
The second Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat joined the second Williams of Felipe Massa on row four, just ahead of Max Verstappen’s Toro Rosso, which only made one run in Q3.
Romain Grosjean’s Lotus rounded out the top 10, over half a second adrift of the next fastest car.
Neither Force India made it through to the top-10 shootout, along with the second Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz and Pastor Maldonado’s Lotus.
Hulkenberg and Sainz were less than a tenth away from Grosjean’s 10th placed Lotus in Q2, while Perez was almost six tenths further back in 13th.
Maldonado was top-10 fast in Q1, but he locked up at Turn 1 on his final flying lap in Q2, which contributed to him missing Q3 by 0.804s.
McLaren headed into qualifying hoping to challenge for a place in the top 10, but could do no better than 15th and 16th after both drivers encountered technical trouble.
Fernando Alonso made it through to Q2, but stopped at the entry to the pitlane during his first run, bringing out the red flags and ending the Spaniard’s session early.
An earlier problem with ERS deployment on Jenson Button’s car meant the Briton missed the Q2 cut by lapping just over a tenth of a second shy of Sainz’s Toro Rosso.
The Briton estimated his problem cost him 0.3s on his final flying lap.
The 2009 world champion joined the Saubers and Manors in dropping out during the first phase of qualifying.
Felipe Nasr felt he "lost it in the last two corners" and finished up 0.154s adrift of Sauber team-mate Marcus Ericsson, who felt he drove a good final flying lap in the sister C34.
Roberto Merhi comfortably out-qualified his team-mate Will Stevens by 0.533s, as the Manor cars filled their customary place on the final row of the grid.
HUNGARIAN GP GRID
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||0.754s|
|7||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||1.312s|
|9||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||1.659s|
|11||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1.806s|
|12||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1.849s|
|13||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||2.441s|
Hungarian GP FP3: Lewis Hamilton marginally ahead of Nico Rosberg
Lewis Hamilton goes into this afternoon’s qualifying session for Formula 1’s Hungarian Grand Prix as favourite for pole position after setting the pace in third free practice.
The Mercedes driver set the pace early in the session when everyone was lapping on the slower medium-compound Pirellis, just over a tenth faster than team-mate Nico Rosberg.
With most leaving it until the final 15 minutes before bolting on the softs and completing qualifying simulations, Hamilton was then knocked off top spot by Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg.
Hulkenberg was shuffled down to sixth by the end of the session, with Rosberg the first to relegate him after setting a 1m22.997s lap with 12 minutes remaining.
Three minutes later, Hamilton completed his ‘qualifying’ run, outpacing Rosberg by 0.098s to complete the preparation for his bid for a fifth Hungarian GP pole position.
Rosberg’s session ended with two minutes remaining when his engine stalled at the end of the pitlane when he was about to attempt a practice start.
The two Mercedes drivers were untouchable at the front, with Sebastian Vettel best of the rest in third, nine-tenths off Hamilton’s pace.
Daniil Kvyat edged the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz with his final lap of the session, putting the Red Bull fourth ahead of its sister car.
Kvyat’s team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was unable to match the Russian, ending the session ninth after both Red Bulls started late to manage their engine mileage.
Max Verstappen also performed well, ending up seventh behind Hulkenberg and one place ahead of the McLaren of Fernando Alonso.
Alonso had been among the earliest drivers to set a time on the soft Pirellis, which put him third for a spell before he was shuffled back.
Behind Ricciardo, Romain Grosjean completed the top 10 for Lotus, 12-thousandths of a second ahead of team-mate Pastor Maldonado.
Williams had a quiet session, with Felipe Massa 12th and Valtteri Bottas – running the latest-specification front wing – 14th.
Perez, who had been as high as fourth by taking the soft tyre early, was 15th fastest ahead of the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.
The Finn was unable to complete a qualifying simulation run because of a water leak, but he would have been comfortably in the top six had he done so given the performance gain of soft tyres.
|4||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||1.218s||17|
|5||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1.329s||22|
|6||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1.486s||30|
|7||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||1.681s||22|
|9||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1.932s||12|
|15||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||2.396s||25|
Hungarian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton leads Red Bull drivers in FP2
Lewis Hamilton set the pace in second Formula 1 practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix as Red Bull emerged as Mercedes’ closest challenger.
Hamilton clocked a 1m23.949s on the soft compound tyres, 0.351 seconds clear of Daniil Kvyat with the Red Bull driver’s team-mate Daniel Ricciardo 0.151s further adrift.
Nico Rosberg, in the other Mercedes, was 0.719s off the pace in fourth ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who maintained his advantage over team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
Red Bull’s day was tainted when Ricciardo’s engine expired with 20 minutes remaining, the Australian pulling off the track at Turn 11 to bring out the red flag.
Hamilton set the early pace as the field ran the medium compound tyres and increased that advantage on his qualifying simulations on the softs before the teams turned their attention to long runs.
Carlos Sainz continued Toro Rosso’s strong form so far at the Hungaroring with the sixth quickest time with team-mate Max Verstappen, who missed a chunk of the session with a technical problem, 11th.
Vettel, who had two spins (at Turn 12 and Turn 1), was seventh quickest, just over half a second slower than team-mate Raikkonen.
McLaren’s hopes of a stronger weekend were boosted with Fernando Alonso finishing FP2 in eighth, 1.8s off the pace, and team-mate Jenson Button two tenths further back in 12th.
The Williams of Valtteri Bottas, who was running the team’s new front wing, and Felipe Massa completed the top 10.
Lotus bounced back from a troubled first session to get more than 70 laps on the board between Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean, with the duo finishing 13th and 15th overall.
The team’s tyres were late arriving for first practice, in what is understood to be a consequence of a late payment, and as a result it lost track time while they waited for the tyres to get into their working range.
Sauber’s team principal Monisha Kaltenborn conceded on Thursday that it would be a tough weekend for her team and it proved to be the case with Felipe Nasr 14th and Marcus Ericsson 16th.
Roberto Merhi ended up 17th quickest, just 0.002s ahead of Manor team-mate Will Stevens.
Force India chose to sit out the session as a precaution while the team continued to investigate an apparent suspension problem that caused Sergio Perez’s crash in first practice.
|2||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||0.351s||29|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||0.502s||16|
|6||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1.650s||37|
|11||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||1.986s||19|
Hungarian GP: Lewis Hamilton fastest, Sergio Perez rolls in F1 FP1
Lewis Hamilton topped the first Formula 1 free practice session at the Hungarian Grand Prix, which was interrupted by a dramatic roll for Sergio Perez after hitting the barriers.
Hamilton’s Mercedes was fastest in the first half-hour, when all drivers were on their first set of medium-compound Pirellis, and he had yet to use his second set when Perez crashed shortly before the one-hour mark.
The Force India driver had just emerged from the exit of the Turn 11 right-hander and was on the exit rumble strip when the rear snapped on him and pitched the Mexican into a spin.
Replays suggested that this was caused by a failure in the right-rear suspension, although this has yet to be confirmed.
Perez spun across the track and hit nose-first into the barrier, damaging the front-right suspension.
As he rebounded into the track, the deranged front wheel folded under the car and tipped him into a roll.
The Force India came to rest upside down, although Perez was able to get out quickly and was taken to the medical centre for a check-up before he returned to the pits on foot just over 10 minutes after the crash.
There, he was met by a pack of TV and radio crews – although he was still unsure as to the cause of the accident when it was put to him that he had a failure.
"It was a really bad accident, really unlucky," he told Sky Sports F1.
"I went in at the wrong angle, which made the car roll over, but everything’s all right.
"It was a bit of a strange accident, I thought I was under control but I guess the Astroturf was very dirty and that’s why I went into the wall, but we have to check everything in detail."
The session was restarted after a 15-minute halt, and after the stoppage Nico Rosberg worked his way down to a 1m25.250s, which was just under half-a-tenth faster than Hamilton’s early mark.
But at the same time, Hamilton improved to a 1m25.141s to end the session 0.109s faster than Rosberg to consolidate top spot.
The session was then interrupted by another red flag for debris on the track from the front wing of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari, which failed as he was exiting the Turn 12 right-hander.
Although the Finn made it back to the pits, the track needed clearing and the session did not get back underway in time for any more improvements to be made, meaning only five drivers left the pits for the last 60 seconds of track time.
Raikkonen set third-fastest time before his incident, putting him ahead of the two Red Bulls of Daniels Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat.
They were the only three non-Mercedes cars within a second of the pace, as sixth-quickest Sebastian Vettel, who missed much of the first half-hour with an electrical problem, was 1.254s down.
Toro Rosso had another strong Friday session, with Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen seventh and 10th respectively.
They sandwiched Perez and the Williams of Valtteri Bottas on the timesheets.
McLaren suggested that its hopes of a slightly improved performance at a less-power-dependent circuit are justified with Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button 11th and 12th fastest.
Lotus had a troubled session as a consequence of not getting hold of its tyres on Thursday, as would be usual. This is understood to be a consequence of a late payment.
The team got its tyres this morning, but while both cars completed an installation lap during the first half-hour running was restricted, with Pastor Maldonado and Jolyon Palmer – two of the drivers who did return to the track during the final one-minute mini-session – managed only 13 laps between them.
That meant Maldonado ended up 17th, while Palmer – who only did four laps – did not set a time.
He ended the session last, behind F1 weekend debutant and former GP2 champion Fabio Leimer.
The Swiss driver took over Roberto Merhi’s Manor and lapped 1.1s off the pace of team-mate Will Stevens.
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||0.912s||20|
|5||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||0.929s||17|
|7||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1.586s||25|
|8||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1.635s||14|
|10||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||1.793s||27|
|13||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||2.176s||11|
The harder the rubber, the harder it gets
Kimi ‘struggles a bit’ with the Prime tyre
Kimi Raikkonen: “Today we tried to do the maximum in the practice and it looks good, but it’s only Friday. It was not an easy day, anyway we learned something. We still have to improve and try to make it a bit more straightforward. We have no idea what the others were doing in the long run, we were focused on our session. The medium compound seems to be pretty ok, while the hard one is more difficult. For some reason I struggled a bit with that, but I don’t know if it was down to that set in particular or if the compound itself is more tricky here.”
Austrian GP: Lewis Hamilton beats Nico Rosberg to pole, both go off
Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for the Austrian Grand Prix, as both Mercedes Formula 1 drivers went off during their final laps of the session.
Hamilton led the way after the first runs in Q3 by two tenths of a second from team-mate Nico Rosberg, but spun under braking for Turn 1 when attempting to make sure of the top spot.
Rosberg set a personal best time in the first sector, then the fastest time of all in the second sector, before going off at the final corner, which consigned him to second on the grid.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel improved on his final run in Q3, but his lap was only good enough for third, 0.155s slower than Rosberg’s earlier effort.
Last year’s Austrian GP poleman Felipe Massa was fourth fastest for Williams, while Le Mans 24 Hours winner Nico Hulkenberg superbly split Massa from his Williams team-mate Valtteri Bottas by recording the fifth fastest time for Force India.
Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen shaded Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat by less than a tenth of a second to post the seventh fastest time, as behind him Sauber’s Felipe Nasr recorded his best qualifying result since April’s Chinese GP by going ninth fastest.
Romain Grosjean’s Lotus failed to set a time in Q3, after a suspected brake by wire problem forced him back into the pits early on.
Team-mate Pastor Maldonado missed out on the top-10 shootout by 0.187s as track conditions improved in Q2, while Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber, the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz, and Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull qualified on the same tenth of a second in 12th, 13th and 14th but some way adrift of their respective team-mates, who all made Q3.
Sainz complained of traffic on his fast lap, while Ricciardo briefly ran off the road at Turn 3 before failing to make the top-10 shootout for the first time this season.
Fernando Alonso managed to squeak his McLaren-Honda through to Q2, but the MP4-30’s lack of power left him adrift of the rest in 15th.
Improving track conditions throughout a Q1 that began damp meant laptimes tumbled as the session reached its climax, creating the potential for upsets.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was the highest-profile scalp in this segment, the Finn missing the Q2 cut by 0.359s and winding up 18th fastest, much to his own surprise over team radio.
Force India’s Sergio Perez also missed out, just 0.014s slower than Alonso’s McLaren at the death, while Alonso’s team-mate Jenson Button had been fastest at one point, before slipping back to 17th at the end.
Roberto Merhi outqualified his team-mate Will Stevens, who went off early on in the wetter conditions, by more than 1.3 seconds as the Manor Marussias again qualified slowest of all 20 cars.
Both McLarens and both Red Bulls will be hit with grid penalties for unscheduled engine changes this weekend, so will drop to the back of the grid when it is finalised.
|5||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m09.278s||0.823s|
|7||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m09.612s||1.157s|
|12||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m10.465s||–|
|13||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m12.522s||–|
|17||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||1m09.694s||–|
|18||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m10.482s||–|
Note: Kvyat, Ricciardo, Alonso and Button all have penalties
Austrian GP: Sebastian Vettel fastest in FP3 before rain hits
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was quickest in final Formula 1 practice for the Austrian Grand Prix, with rain mid-session preventing the leading teams from completing qualifying simulations.
The four-time world champion clocked a 1m09.994 on the soft compound tyres, 0.017s quicker than Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton with Kimi Raikkonen third in the other Ferrari.
With rain a distinct possibility for qualifying, several drivers went out on the full wet tyre when rain hit halfway through the session – although Hamilton was the only one of the frontrunners not to do so.
A number were caught out by the slippery conditions, with Vettel running off track at Turn 2 before recovering while Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz spun down at Turn 6.
Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg traded times at the top of the timesheets in the early part of the session before Vettel usurped them both.
Hamilton was on course to reclaim top spot, having clocked the fastest first and second sectors, but he ran wide after getting out of shape in the final corner.
Drivers were told rain was expected at the midpoint of the one-hour session, with Force India’s Sergio Perez – who had a puncture that Pirelli said was rim-related early on – reacting immediately.
The Mexican clocked the fourth fastest time on super-softs, but before Mercedes and Ferrari could get out on track on the softer tyre, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso brought out the red flag when he stopped on the pit straight.
As the marshals cleared Alonso’s car, which is heavily upgraded this weekend but will incur a penalty of at least 20 places due to engine component changes, rain began to fall.
Both Mercedes and Ferrari queued up at the end of the pitlane on the super-soft tyres, but by the time they headed out, the rain had intensified.
Rosberg and Raikkonen skated off track but kept their respective cars out of the barriers before retreating back to the pits.
Rosberg ended up fifth fastest, three tenths slower than team-mate Hamilton, ahead of the Williams’ of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas.
Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen was eighth with Lotus drivers Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean completing the top 10.
Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg – who said on Friday that it took him some time to get used to driving the car following his victory at Le Mans, was 11th with Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson’s 12th.
Sainz was 13th, and was told by his engineer that he was the fastest car on the wet tyre in the closing stages, ahead of Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat and Alonso.
Daniel Ricciardo had a quiet session in the other Red Bull, managing just 10 laps for 16th, but that was two more than Sauber’s Felipe Nasr completed in 17th.
McLaren’s Jenson Button was 18th, with the Manor-run Marussias of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi bringing up the rear.
|4||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||0.227s||14|
|8||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||0.442s||23|
|11||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1.015s||14|
|13||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1.145s||18|
|14||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||1.145s||14|
|16||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1.825s||10|