Brazilian GP: Bottas beats Vettel to pole after Hamilton crashes
Valtteri Bottas narrowly claimed pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix, as Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton crashed out in Q1.
Hamilton was one of the favourites for pole after leading Friday practice and trailing Mercedes F1 team-mate Bottas by just 0.003 seconds in FP3, but Hamilton crashed heavily at the high-speed Ferradura right-hander on his first flying lap in qualifying.
Hamilton lost the rear of the car suddenly mid-corner and slammed hard into the barriers rear first.
He apologised to his team on the radio before emerging unscathed, but took no further part in the session.
Hamilton’s first Q1 exit since the 2016 Belgian GP cleared the way for Bottas to battle the Ferraris single-handedly for pole.
Bottas was fastest in Q1, but trailed Sebastian Vettel in Q2 and after the first runs in Q3.
Vettel failed to improve on his final run in Q3, but Bottas found 0.120s to beat Vettel to top spot by just 0.038s, with a best lap of 1m08.322s.
The second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen was third quickest, just under two tenths slower than Vettel, while Max Verstappen’s Red Bull was the only other car to lap below 1m09s in fourth.
Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull was fifth, but he faces a 10-place grid penalty for an MGU-H change ahead of practice.
Sergio Perez’s Force India completed the top six, ahead of Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-Honda, the Renaults of Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr, and the Williams of Felipe Massa, who almost crashed after gesticulating at Sainz in Q3.
Esteban Ocon failed to make Q3 for the first time since September’s Singapore Grand Prix, missing the cut by less than a tenth to Sainz.
Romain Grosjean broke into the 1m09s for the first time this weekend and briefly occupied a provisional Q3 spot, but fell to 12th as others improved at the end of Q2.
Stoffel Vandoorne’s McLaren-Honda and Grosjean’s Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen ended up 13th and 14th, both paying the price for failing to break through the 1m10s barrier.
Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley was 15th, but he used Q2 to practice his start procedures rather than set a time, knowing he faces a 10-place grid penalty for an MGU-H change ahead of practice.
Hartley managed to drag himself narrowly into Q2 at the expense of Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein and Toro Rosso team-mate Pierre Gasly, who all lapped in 1m10.6s in Q1.
Wehrlein was gutted to miss the cut by just 0.053s. Gasly, who faces a 25-place grid penalty for a brace of MGU-H changes, missed it by 0.061s.
Hamilton’s crash gave Williams extra time to finish preparing Lance Stroll’s car after changing its engine and gearbox ahead of the session, but Stroll could only manage the 18th quickest time, less than a tenth slower than Gasly.
Stroll will take a five-place grid penalty for that gearbox swap.
Marcus Ericsson was another tenth further back in the second Sauber, beating only Hamilton’s Mercedes, which failed to set a time.
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||0.603s|
|5||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1.276s|
|10||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1.508s|
|15||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1.008s|
|18||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Renault||–|
|19||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Renault||2.364s|
Brazilian GP: Bottas pips Hamilton in a tight FP3 session
Valtteri Bottas set the pace in a tight Formula 1 final practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix as the top four were separated by just a fraction of a second.
The Mercedes driver clocked a 1m09.281s to finish just 0.003s clear of team-mate Lewis Hamilton at Interlagos.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was 0.045s off the pace in third, with team-mate Sebastian Vettel only a further 0.013s adrift in fourth.
Cool and overcast conditions greeted the teams on Saturday, with Ferrari focusing on the super-soft tyres and Mercedes the softs early on.
Raikkonen led the way initially, 0.040s ahead of Vettel, with Hamilton able to get within a couple of tenths.
When attention turned to qualifying-simulations, it was Raikkonen who went quickest, but he was soon deposed by Bottas, who inched ahead.
Back came Raikkonen with another improvement, only for Vettel to move ahead by just 0.060s.
Raikkonen shaved another few hundredths to reclaim top spot, only for Bottas to pip him in the closing stages.
Just 0.058s separated the top four drivers, with the fastest sectors split between Hamilton, Vettel and Bottas.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was the closest challenger, leaving it until the final few minutes to pump in the fifth fastest time, 0.963s off the pace.
Fernando Alonso was an impressive sixth for McLaren, with Force India’s Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon separated by a 0.035s in sixth and seventh.
Max Verstappen survived a late spin late on, having taken too much of the exit kerb at the final corner, to finish ninth. Carlos Sainz Jr completed the top 10.
Felipe Massa, racing on home soil in F1 for the final time, was 11th quickest, but his last quick lap was scuppered because of Verstappen’s spin.
His Williams team-mate Lance Stroll failed to complete a timed lap after stopping out on track early in the session, reporting a loss of power.
Stroll needs a new gearbox, which will mean a five-place grid penalty, and an engine change but he will avoid a penalty for the latter by re-using an old engine.
|1||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team||Mercedes||1m09.281s|
|2||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team||Mercedes||0.003s|
|3||Kimi Raikkonen||Scuderia Ferrari||Ferrari||0.045s|
|4||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari||Ferrari||0.058s|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||Red Bull/Renault||0.963s|
|6||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda||McLaren/Honda||1.007s|
|7||Sergio Perez||Sahara Force India F1 Team||Force India/Mercedes||1.041s|
|8||Esteban Ocon||Sahara Force India F1 Team||Force India/Mercedes||1.076s|
|9||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||Red Bull/Renault||1.214s|
|10||Carlos Sainz||Renault Sport F1 Team||Renault||1.318s|
|11||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren Honda||McLaren/Honda||1.356s|
|12||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing||Williams/Mercedes||1.390s|
|13||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team||Haas/Ferrari||1.440s|
|14||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault Sport F1 Team||Renault||1.462s|
|15||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team||Haas/Ferrari||1.481s|
|16||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia Toro Rosso||Toro Rosso/Renault||1.700s|
|17||Brendon Hartley||Scuderia Toro Rosso||Toro Rosso/Renault||1.804s|
|18||Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber F1 Team||Sauber/Ferrari||1.845s|
|19||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team||Sauber/Ferrari||2.199s|
|20||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing||Williams/Mercedes||–|
Q: Kimi, happy for today?
Kimi Raikkonen: So, so. I felt it could have been better but it was a bit tricky sometimes to get the tyres into the right window for the first two corners to be confident under braking. The last run was better but it wasn’t good enough.
Q: It seems to be key today with these cooler conditions. It’s just made it that little bit more difficult. But generally Ferrari are in good shape for the race I would guess?
KR: Yeah, I think we improved the car for today. Obviously the weather can change quickly here, so we have to wait and see what it brings tomorrow. It’s going to be a long race and we’ll do our best.
Q: And Kimi, two of you versus one Mercedes. Unusual situation, from a strategy point of view that gives you plenty to play with, ‘cos he can’t cover both of you. Thoughts about that and also your performance today.
KR: Obviously, we’ll see that tomorrow, what it will bring but today was a better day than yesterday, for sure. The feeling was pretty good on some laps but it was a bit tricky to have full confidence in the first corner to be sure that the tyres will work well and you don’t lock the wheel. That was really the most difficult. Some sets seemed to be more easy than others and the last set actually I had more grip than I expected. But yeah, not ideal but not too bad. I think the car is very good, position, the handling, so tomorrow is a race and it should be OK.
Sebastian Vettel beats Max Verstappen to Mexican GP F1 pole position
Sebastian Vettel claimed a dramatic pole position for the Mexican Grand Prix, knocking Red Bull driver Max Verstappen off top spot at the end.
Verstappen was quickest on the first runs in Q3 with a 1m16.574s, but lapped three-tenths slower on his final attempt.
This allowed Ferrari driver Vettel to snatch pole with a lap of 1m16.488s, having been just over a quarter-of-a-second slower on the first runs.
Lewis Hamilton was third fastest for Mercedes after a moment in the Turn 12 right-hander cost him time in the final sector, meaning he had to rely on his first-run time.
This put him ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who posted a lap good enough for fourth having had to abandon his first run without setting a time.
This was because of a lockup at Turn 13 after passing the slow Verstappen, who is being investigated by stewards for impeding.
Kimi Raikkonen was fifth ahead of Esteban Ocon, with Daniel Ricciardo failing to improve on his final lap and ending up seventh.
Renault duo Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr were eighth and ninth ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez.
Williams team-mates Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll were the only drivers among the five eliminated in Q2 to post a time.
Massa ended up 11th, missing out on a place in Q3 thanks to lapping 0.231s slower than Perez.
Stroll was over a second behind his team-mate in 12th, with much of the time lost with a scruffy run through the stadium section late in the lap.
Brendon Hartley, on his second F1 appearance for Toro Rosso, reached Q2 for the first time but ended up 13th thanks to stopping with a loss of power exiting Turn 3 on his first flying lap.
With Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne carrying grid penalties of 35 and 20 places respectively, McLaren opted not to mount a serious assault on Q2 with both drivers completing a token run without attempting a flying lap – leaving them 14th and 15th.
Sauber duo Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein were fastest of those eliminated in Q1 in 16th and 17th place respectively.
Both did three runs in Q1, but Wehrlein was bumped into the dropzone by Vandoorne late on, moments before Ericsson jumped ahead of him.
Wehrlein did not improve on his final lap but still ended up ahead of Haas duo Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, who also both squeezed three runs into Q1.
Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly did not run in qualifying on his return to Formula 1 action after engine problems struck in final practice.
The 21-year-old already carries at least a 15-place grid penalty thanks to power unit component changes made on Friday, and completed only 12 practice laps on his first appearance at Mexico City.
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m16.574s||0.086s|
|6||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m17.437s||0.949s|
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m17.447s||0.959s|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m17.807s||1.319s|
|13||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Renault||–||–|
|20||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Renault||–||–|
Mexican GP: Max Verstappen keeps Red Bull on top in practice three
Max Verstappen pipped Formula 1 championship leader Lewis Hamilton by a fraction of a second to set the pace in final practice for the Mexican Grand Prix.
Red Bull driver Verstappen clocked a 1m17.113s to finish just 0.075 seconds quicker than Mercedes rival Hamilton.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was third, ahead of Valtteri Bottas, with the top four separated by just 0.170s.
Hamilton set the early pace on the ultra-soft tyres at a cool and breezy Mexico City circuit before Bottas snuck ahead by a tenth, with a 1m17.963s.
Bottas than completed a series of fast laps, improving to a 1m17.537s to open up a four tenth gap over his team-mate before Hamilton reduced the deficit to three tenths.
The Red Bulls, running the super-softs, were best of the rest with Verstappen – who complained of struggling to get the front tyres to work – third and Ricciardo fourth.
When attention turned to qualifying-simulations, Bottas improved by a tenth of a second, but that was comfortably beaten by Vettel when the Ferrari bolted on a fresh set of ultra-softs.
Verstappen then snuck ahead on his low-fuel run by just 0.007s, having clocked the fastest first and second sectors.
Next time around, the Red Bull driver improved by a tenth of a second but there was more time to had after a big lock-up in the final sector.
Hamilton reported "power issues" on his first run, picking out Turn 7 as where he had the problem, and failing to improve on his earlier time.
He stayed out and improved by a fraction, but that was only good enough for sixth as Mercedes told him the issue had been spotted and was "just going to require a calibration change".
Third time around, the championship leader made big gains and slotted into second, just 0.075s adrift of Verstappen.
Ricciardo was fifth quickest, a quarter of a second off the pace, with Kimi Raikkonen sixth, three tenths slower than Ferrari team-mate Vettel.
Sergio Perez was best of the rest on home soil in seventh, nine tenths off the pace and one tenth clear of Force India team-mate Esteban Ocon.
Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr and Nico Hulkenberg completed the top 10.
Brendon Hartley continued to impress with the 11th quickest time but there was frustration for Toro Rosso team-mate Pierre Gasly, who failed to set a time.
Gasly, who stepped aside for Sean Gelael in first practice and completed just 10 laps on Friday afternoon, stopped in the stadium session reporting engine issues early on.
The team gave him a complex set of instructions for how to restart the car, but when that failed, it signalled the end of his session.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, who will take 20 and 35-place grid penalties respectively for engine component changes, were 16th and 19th respectively.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m17.113s||–||20|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m17.361s||0.248s||10|
|7||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m18.040s||0.927s||20|
|8||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m18.165s||1.052s||18|
|11||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m18.602s||1.489s||23|
|20||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Renault||–|
Lewis Hamilton beats Sebastian Vettel to United States GP F1 pole
Lewis Hamilton claimed his 72nd Formula 1 pole position with a dominant performance in qualifying for the United States Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver was fastest in all three segments of qualifying, ending up 0.239s clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
This was despite a poor final sector on his Hamilton’s second Q3 run preventing him from improving, meaning the 1m33.108s he set on his first attempt was good enough for pole.
Vettel was only fourth on the first runs in Q3, but he hooked up a strong second lap to jump ahead of the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, who also lost time in the final sector and did not improve on his first run time.
Daniel Ricciardo was fourth fastest thanks to setting his laptime before Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, the duo setting identical marks of 1m33.577s.
Max Verstappen, who has a 15-place grid penalty, was sixth fastest and is the only driver from the top 10 in qualifying who will start on super-softs rather than ultra-softs having used the slower Pirelli compound to set his Q2 time.
Esteban Ocon was seventh fastest, a second off Verstappen, while Carlos Sainz Jr completed only one run in Q3 thanks to only having one set of fresh ultra-softs, ending up eighth.
Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez – who only had used tyres for his first Q3 run – rounded out the top 10.
Felipe Massa was eliminated in Q2 after a late improvement from Perez, missing out by less than half-a-tenth and ending up 11th.
Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was 12th ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne, who has a five-place grid penalty thanks to the upgraded Honda V6 engine that was introduced at the start of the weekend, and Romain Grosjean.
Nico Hulkenberg ended qualifying 15th having opted not to run in Q2 for what the team described as "strategic" reasons because of his 20-place grid penalty for engine component changes.
Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was the quickest of the drivers to be eliminated in Q1, missing out thanks to being just seven-thousandths slower than Grosjean.
That put him ahead of Lance Stroll, who complained over the radio of a deployment problem on his final run that he subsequently said cost him eight-tenths on the back straight.
The Williams driver is also being investigated by stewards for impeding Grosjean, having jinked to his right and off the track while the Haas driver was attempting to go around the outside of him near the end of the lap.
Toro Rosso debutant Brendon Hartley, who has a 25-place grid penalty, was 18th fastest having briefly lifted himself out of the dropzone early in the final-run flurry before being shuffled back.
The New Zealander was ultimately only 0.054s off a place in Q2, having lapped eighth-tenths slower than team-mate Kvyat’s Q1 time.
Pascal Wehrlein was 19th for Sauber, with Kevin Magnussen slowest for Haas.
Magnussen is also being investigated by stewards for impeding Perez through Turns 13/14.
US GP starting grid
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m33.577s||0.469s|
|6||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m34.647s||1.539s|
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m35.148s||2.040s|
|11||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m35.529s||2.421s|
|16||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m33.658s||0.550s|
|19||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m36.889s||3.781s|
US Grand Prix: Hamilton beats Vettel by a tenth in final practice
Lewis Hamilton edged out Formula 1 title rival Sebastian Vettel to set the pace in final practice for the United States Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver clocked a 1m34.478s, which is a new track record, to beat Vettel by just 0.092 seconds with Valtteri Bottas two tenths off the pace in third.
Hamilton set the early pace, clocking a 1m35.125s on his second lap on the ultra-soft tyres, with Bottas 0.420s adrift in second.
Vettel, whose Ferrari team changed his chassis overnight, then slotted into second, 0.002s quicker than Bottas with Kimi Raikkonen 0.02s further back in fourth.
Daniel Ricciardo was another half a second further back in fifth, while team-mate Verstappen – who will have a 15-place grid penalty for engine component changes – ran wide at Turn 7 on his first lap on the ultra-soft tyres.
The Red Bull driver reported a "massive loss" of rear grip, which Red Bull suggested could be down to gusting wind at that corner.
Attention then turned to qualifying simulations with the field bolting on fresh sets of the ultra-soft tyres in the final third of the one-hour session.
Verstappen improved to second fastest, less than a tenth behind Hamilton, but then the times started to tumble as Vettel pumped in a 1m34.570s.
The Ferrari driver’s time at the top was short-lived, though, as Hamilton snuck back ahead.
Hamilton attempted a second flying lap on that set of tyres and though a 1m35.547s was fractionally slower, it did mean he clocked the two quickest laps of the session.
Bottas ended up third quickest, two tenths off the pace, with Raikkonen a fraction further back in fourth and Verstappen shuffled down to fifth despite a late improvement that reduced the deficit to 0.625s.
There were a flurry of low-fuel runs just minutes before the end of the session, with Felipe Massa popping into sixth, 0.868s off the pace in the Williams.
Nico Hulkenberg slotted into seventh, 1.130s off the pace and just 0.042s clear of Renault team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr.
Ricciardo left his second run on the ultra-softs until the final moments of the session, but though he set a personal best in the first sector, he backed out of it after running wide at Turn 9 and ended up ninth.
Force India’s Sergio Perez completed the top 10, just over a tenth ahead of Esteban Ocon who was told by his team to abort his final run because of traffic.
McLaren duo Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne completed their low-fuel runs earlier than rivals, initially sitting in the top 10 before dropping down to 13th and 14th respectively.
Brendon Hartley, who is competing in his first grand prix weekend, ended up 15th quickest, 2.340s off the pace in the Toro Rosso.
His team-mate Daniil Kvyat, returning to the Italian team’s set-up after making way for Pierre Gasly in the last two races, managed just six laps after reporting something strange with the car and subsequently being recalled to the garage.
There was frustration for Romain Grosjean, who lost the rear of his Haas at Turn 7 midway through the session and ended up beached in the gravel.
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||0.625s||14|
|9||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1.245s||17|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1.324s||16|
|11||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1.487s||17|
|15||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Renault||2.340s||26|
|20||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||4.022s||6|
Japanese GP: Raikkonen qualifying woe part of crash’s ‘hefty price’
Kimi Raikkonen says he paid a "hefty price" for his mistake in final Japanese Grand Prix final practice, which hampered his Formula 1 qualifying preparations and forced a gearbox penalty.
The Ferrari driver damaged the left side of the car when he crashed at the second Degner right-hander halfway through Saturday morning’s final practice session at Suzuka.
Ferrari inspected the unit and decided a change was needed ahead of qualifying, which instigated a five-place grid penalty.
It repaired the car ready in time to get him out for qualifying, but Raikkonen went wide at the same corner on his first Q3 run and ended up sixth after his second.
"I just went off," said Raikkonen.
"It was a mistake, and I paid quite a hefty price for it with the penalty and far from ideal preparation for qualifying, but that’s how it goes.
"The first lap [in Q1] was far from ideal. On the second lap, I wasn’t sure how much there will be grip because it wasn’t a great feeling on the first run.
"The biggest issue was very limited running because of the issue this morning.
"At a place like this where you have to get it right to be able to go fast in the first sector, you pay a big price."
Raikkonen is expected to line up 10th after his penalty and will begin the race on the soft tyre, rather than the super-soft like most of those ahead of him.
He is hopeful of a stronger race on Sunday, given his feeling in the car before his accident on Saturday morning.
"It’s a bit tricky because of this morning, it’s not the greatest feeling in the end of qualifying," he said.
"Before we had the mistake, it’s been good. I think the race should be OK.
"I think we have a good car, we will do our best and see where we end up.
"It’s not going to be easy, but I’m sure we should have a pretty decent race."
Raikkonen gets Japanese GP grid penalty after gearbox change
Kimi Raikkonen will take a five-place Formula 1 grid penalty into Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix after Ferrari changed his car’s gearbox after damage sustained in practice.
Raikkonen crashed at Degner 2 during final practice at Suzuka, bringing out the red-flag just over halfway through the one-hour session.
The rear of his Ferrari got away from him mid-corner and Raikkonen couldn’t gather it up before he hit the barriers, damaging the left side of his car.
Once the car was returned to the garage, Ferrari inspected the unit and decided to change it ahead of qualifying later.
Rules dictate gearboxes must last six consecutive events, with a driver incurring a five-place grid drop for an early change.
The only exceptions to these rules are for non-starters and non-finishers (for technical reasons) of the previous race, neither of which apply in Raikkonen’s case.
Japanese GP: Dominant Lewis Hamilton takes first Suzuka pole
Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for Formula 1’s Japanese Grand Prix with a dominant qualifying performance, leading a Mercedes one-two, while title rival Sebastian Vettel was third-fastest.
Hamilton was quickest in all phases of the session, as he claimed his first pole at Suzuka and smashed Michael Schumacher’s qualifying lap record from 2006.
The championship leader was more than four tenths clear of Vettel after the first runs in Q3 and lowered his own benchmark by a couple of hundredths to confirm pole.
Vettel’s Ferrari was provisionally on the front row after the first runs, but a small improvement at the end was not enough to stay second.
Valtteri Bottas, who almost crashed at the second Degner in Q1 after shunting in FP3, found a chunk of time on his own final run to make it onto the front row.
However, a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change on Bottas’s Mercedes will promote Vettel back onto the front row for Sunday’s race.
Daniel Ricciardo was fourth fastest in the best of the Red Bulls, just 0.026 seconds clear of team-mate Max Verstappen.
Kimi Raikkonen went off at the second Degner on his first run in Q3, scene of his crash in final practice, and his second effort was only good enough for sixth in the second Ferrari.
Raikkonen will also drop five places on the grid after requiring a new gearbox following that crash.
Esteban Ocon narrowly beat Sergio Perez again, while Felipe Massa’s Williams and Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-Honda rounded out the top 10 in Q3.
Perez is under investigation for impeding Massa’s Williams team-mate Lance Stroll in Q1, while Alonso will drop to the back of the grid thanks to a 35-place grid penalty for an illegal engine change, following a hydraulic leak discovered after Friday practice.
Alonso’s McLaren team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne missed out on beating Alonso into Q3 by just 0.029s after failing to improve on his second run, but he should start the race inside the top 10 thanks to Alonso’s grid penalty.
Nico Hulkenberg was 12th fastest in the best of the Renaults in Q2, a tenth further back, while Kevin Magnussen scored the best qualifying result for Haas since August’s Belgian GP by posting the 13th fastest time here, within a tenth of Hulkenberg.
The second Renault of Jolyon Palmer was 14th, less than three tenths from making the top 10, while Carlos Sainz Jr’s Toro Rosso was cut adrift of the group in 15th, almost four tenths slower than Palmer.
Palmer and Sainz both face 20-place grid penalties for requiring illegal engine component changes this weekend.
A heavy crash for Romain Grosjean at the top of the Esses in the closing stages of Q1 brought that segment to an early end, which prevented any of the lower runners from bettering their benchmark times.
Grosjean, who complained "something wrong on the car, massive oversteer" as he ran off the road at Turns 5 and 6 before crashing into the wall before Turn 7, was already in the drop zone when he crashed, having earlier lapped less than a tenth slower than Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen.
So, Grosjean ended up 16th quickest, ahead of Toro Rosso rookie Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll, who complained about being blocked multiple times in the early part of Q1.
Marcus Ericsson was quickest of the Sauber drivers in 19th, almost three tenths clear of team-mate Pascal Wehrlein and within two tenths of Stroll.
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m28.306s||0.987s|
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m28.332s||1.013s|
|5||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m29.111s||1.792s|
|7||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m29.260s||1.941s|
|14||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m31.317s||3.998s|
|19||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m30.413s||3.094s|
Japanese Grand Prix: Bottas fastest in FP3 before crashing out
Valtteri Bottas edged out Mercedes Formula 1 team-mate Lewis Hamilton to set the pace in final practice for the Japanese Grand Prix, but crashed to end his session early.
The Finn clocked a 1m29.055s on the soft tyres to finish 0.014s clear of Hamilton, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel three tenths off the pace in third place using the super-soft Pirellis.
It was frustrating session for both Mercedes and Ferrari, with Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen crashing and Vettel the only one of the quartet to get a representative lap on the super-softs.
The rain stayed away during the session, allowing the field to head out on the slicks from the off and set about making up for running lost in yesterday’s rain-hit second practice session.
Bottas set the early pace on the soft tyre, a fraction ahead of Mercedes Hamilton, who was running the same rubber.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third on the soft, 1.334s adrift, with team-mate Daniel Ricciardo four tenths further back on the super-softs in fourth.
The session was then red-flagged shortly before the halfway mark when Bottas ran wide of out Spoon, pulling up the artifical grass at the exit of the corner.
The Mercedes driver clipped the wall a couple of times, damaging the right-rear corner of the car. Although he made it back to the pits, that was the end of his session.
Running got back under way just after the halfway point but lasted just three minutes before race control red-flagged it again following Raikkonen’s crash at Degner 2.
Replays showed the rear of his Ferrari got away from him mid-corner and Raikkonen couldn’t gather it up before he hit the barriers, damaging the left side of the car.
The marshals quickly craned his damaged Ferrari over the barriers, allowing the session to get going again.
Several drivers, including Lewis Hamilton, had their super-soft qualifying-simulations ruined by the two red-flag interruptions.
Vettel focused on race simulations early in the session, before turning his attention to the super-softs and low fuel.
His first effort put him third and although he improved next time around, he was still 0.324s adrift of the lead Mercedes.
Verstappen’s super-soft tyre run put him fourth, 0.855s off the pace and one tenth clear of Ricciardo in fifth.
Esteban Ocon was best-of-the-rest in sixth, just over a second adrift of Bottas, with Nico Hulkenberg the leading Renault in seventh.
Fernando Alonso, who has a 35-place grid penalty for engine component changes ahead of FP3, was eighth as Sergio Perez ended up ninth.
Jolyon Palmer made it two Renaults in the top 10, but he will start Sunday’s race towards the back after engine component changes handed him a 20-place grid drop.
Raikkonen ended up bottom of the timesheets, having focused on race simulations on older sets of super-softs before crashing on his first flier on a fresh set.
|1||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team||1m29.055s||9|
|2||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team||0.014s||19|
|3||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari||0.324s||23|
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||0.855s||15|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||0.963s||13|
|6||Esteban Ocon||Sahara Force India F1 Team||1.054s||12|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault Sport F1 Team||1.260s||19|
|8||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda||1.369s||13|
|9||Sergio Perez||Sahara Force India F1 Team||1.508s||12|
|10||Jolyon Palmer||Renault Sport F1 Team||1.709s||22|
|11||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing||1.709s||21|
|12||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren Honda||1.715s||18|
|13||Carlos Sainz||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1.744s||23|
|14||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team||1.927s||12|
|15||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing||1.956s||20|
|16||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia Toro Rosso||2.298s||25|
|17||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team||2.404s||13|
|18||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team||3.524s||22|
|19||Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber F1 Team||3.643s||21|
|20||Kimi Raikkonen||Scuderia Ferrari||4.907s||12|
Q: Kimi come and join us. What a try that was! Happy with that? I’m sure you wanted just a little bit more. I would have thought you would have done one of the old karting moves – jumping up and down in the seat, leaning forward. Maybe you should do that next time.
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, it’s OK, but obviously when you get that close it’s disappointing. I made the most out of it. Yes, there are always places you can improve, but you are never going to get it 100% perfect anywhere. You always find some things you can improve, but I must say the car has been behaving nicely all weekend and it’s been a pleasure so far. We’ll try to get further than 100 metres tomorrow, and let’s see what we can do.
Q: Tomorrow is going to be important, obviously you have been on the front row before but this is going to be an interesting little drive towards Turn One. Are you ready for this? This crowd is looking forward to a big race tomorrow, yeah?
KR: Yeah, obviously it’s a long way, so if you make a good start you will benefit quite a bit from it. It’s a pretty tight first two corners and a lot usually happens. We’ll try to make sure the first two corners go well and go from there. I think we’re going to have a very good race car, so let’s see.
Q: You’re going to be after the perfect start, Kimi, Max, tomorrow you’re going to want to get in front of this guy, who is the man who is going to do that.
MV: I don’t want to be sandwiched – that’s the only thing.
KR: I don’t want to be hit.
Q: Kimi, it equals your best qualifying performance here in Sepang: 0.045 of a second off pole position. A lot of weight on your shoulders obviously in qualifying from the Ferrari team with Vettel in trouble. You were on target, it seemed, until the final corner – tell us about it.
KR: Well, I don’t know. Obviously, I only know how it was and I think overall, the whole weekend, it’s been pretty straightforward. The car’s been handling well. I think we were quite happy all day, also in qualifying but, y’know, you can always improve here and there. I don’t think you ever going to make an absolutely perfect lap and it’s a bit more painful when you get that close, for sure. There’s places that you improve a little bit and it’s just enough – but it wasn’t today. Obviously was a shame for the team, with Seb’s issue, whatever, not having him in the qualifying – but that’s how it goes sometimes. I think the car’s [inaudible] very well but to try to fix it and then obviously had some problem. It’s a shame for him. Sure he will be good tomorrow. I’m happy but I’d rather have qualified in first place but I think tomorrow is a long race, it’s going to be tough for tyres and I think we should have a very good car tomorrow. I have a good feeling about it.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, in Monaco you won the pole with the same margin as you did lose it today. How big is the difference in your feeling compared to that Monaco?
KR: It makes no difference to compare what happened in Monaco with here. I don’t really care what’s the time difference, or position today. It’s what happened. We came second, I’m pretty happy because things have been running pretty smoothly all weekend and I think we’re going to have a good car tomorrow, at least so far that’s how it’s been. You always look for more and for sure there’s always things to improve, to go a bit faster and that little bit would have been enough today.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) Kimi, your teammate is in the back, he’s fighting for the championship. You on the first row, do you think you can believe also the team can ask you to change the strategy in order to take maximum possible points from Lewis, keeping that in mind?
KR: What do you mean exactly, because as a team, we want to get maximum points out of any race with two cars and obviously for Seb we hope he’s going to make a good recovery but it’s not going to change my race. We’re always going to try and make the fastest race and I don’t really know what else…