“Considerando quanto sia stato difficile il weekend fino ad oggi, queste qualifiche sono state la sessione migliore per noi. Il risultato ovviamente non è ottimale, ma abbiamo fatto un buon lavoro. Sono soddisfatto di come si è comportata la macchina ed c’è ottimismo per domani. In Q2 le condizioni erano complesse, c’era il rischio che piovesse, ma abbiamo deciso di uscire con le Soft per fare un tentativo e per poter iniziare la gara con questa mescola e ha funzionato. Credo che questa sia l’opzione migliore per noi, ma vedremo; sono molte le cose che possono accadere in gara. Nel mio ultimo tentativo, la prima parte del mio giro è andata bene, ma poi ho perso un po’ nell’ultimo settore. Ho cercato di recuperare nell’ultima curva ma non sono riuscito a migliorare il mio giro. Il divario rispetto ai piloti davanti è minimo, eravamo tutti vicini. Domani la gara sarà molto interessante”.
Lewis Hamilton beats Sebastian Vettel in Brazil F1 qualifying
Lewis Hamilton claimed his 10th pole position of the 2018 Formula 1 season in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix, while nearest challenger Sebastian Vettel faces a stewards investigation.
Hamilton went fastest using supersoft Pirellis on the first runs in the Q3 top 10 shootout, setting a time of 1m07.301s.
The Mercedes driver was the only one of the frontrunners to improve on his second run, shaving off a further two-hundredths of a second to make sure of pole position.
Vettel was up on Hamilton after the first sector on his final run, but a lock up in Turn 8 contributed to him losing time and he had to settle for second based on his earlier lap, 0.093s down.
Valtteri Bottas was third fastest in the second Mercedes, pipping Ferrari’s Kimi Raikoknen by 0.015s.
As expected, the Red Bull drivers annexed the third row with just 0.002s separating Max Verstappen in fifth and Daniel Ricciardo in sixth.
Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson was the only driver other than Hamilton to improve on his second run, ensuring he held onto the seventh place he secured on his first attempt.
That put him two-tenths faster than team-mate Charles Leclerc, with Haas driver Romain Grosjean ninth and comfortably ahead of Pierre Gasly.
Both Ferrari drivers will start the race on soft Pirellis after aborting their initial Q2 runs on supersofts to change tyres, with the rest of the top 10 qualifiers all locked into using the softest compound.
But Vettel was frustrated to be called to the FIA weighbridge early in Q2 when he dived into the pits while in a hurry to change tyres in case of rain.
He was reported to the stewards for refusing to turn off his engine, then driving onto the scales and leaving under his own power.
Technical delegate Jo Bauer’s report to the stewards pointed out this made it difficult to get a stable weight, and that in driving off Vettel "destroyed the scales".
Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was knocked out at the end of Q2 by a superb lap from Leclerc, who looked set to miss out on a place in the top 10 when rain hit with six minutes remaining.
At that point, Magnussen had just pushed Leclerc down to 11th, but the Sauber driver returned to the track after the rain eased and returned the favour.
When the rain came, Racing Point Force India driver Esteban Ocon did improve his lap time on a second set of supersoft Pirellis but it was only good enough for 13th behind team-mate Sergio Perez.
Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg was 14th fastest after improving his time, but not his position, with a late lap to end up ahead only of the Williams of Sergey Sirotkin.
Sirotkin had to swerve and skirt the grass on the approach to the Juncao left-hander while on an outlap after Hamilton attempted to move out of his way by jinking to the left too late.
The Williams driver then appeared to express his frustration by attempting a pass on Hamilton into Turn 1 on the following lap.
Renault driver Carlos Sainz Jr was the fastest of those eliminated in a frenetic Q1 session, during which spots of rain made it difficult for drivers.
Gasly bumped Toro Rosso team-mate Brendon Hartley into the dropzone with a few minutes remaining, putting Ocon into 15th place.
But Sainz then posted a lap 0.005s slower than Ocon to take 16th, and slot in 0.011s ahead of Hartley, who complained of a lockup on his best lap that cost him time.
McLaren pairing Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were 18th and 20th respectively and separated by 0.199s – as well as the second Williams of Lance Stroll.
|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|
Brazilian GP F1 practice: Vettel leads Hamilton in FP3
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel went fastest in the third Formula 1 practice session for the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, beating Lewis Hamilton by 0.2s.
The Ferrari pairing made the early running on the Pirelli supersofts – Vettel fastest of all with a 1m08.857s – but there was little appetite among the other big hitters to emerge from their garages straight away.
A quarter of the session elapsed before the Mercedes of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas hit the track, and Hamilton was instructed to abort his practice start and return to the pits straight away.
The world champion remained in the garage with the engine cover off for a further 15 minutes while the mechanics traced the problem to a dislodged breather pipe.
When Hamilton got under way again he was instantly on the pace, clocking a 1m09.098s on the supersofts.
After a sunny and warm start to the day, the clouds had rolled in ahead of FP3 so while the air was less chilly than it had been on Friday, the track temperatures were only slightly higher than in the first two practice sessions at 33C.
Vettel’s early flier remained the benchmark until he surpassed it with a 1m07.948s 40 minutes into the session, half a second up on Bottas’s best of 1m08.465s, and a new lap record.
Hamilton took advantage of a brief lull in track activity to punch in a lap just 0.217s shy of Vettel’s time, but while he was fastest of all in the second sector he reported that his tyre pressures weren’t quite right.
Despite attempting another run, Hamilton failed to improve and had to settle for second, three tenths of a second ahead of team-mate Bottas, who edged the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen into fourth place by scarcely three hundredths.
The Red Bulls were the last to run, waiting until the half-way mark before leaving their garages, and each made just two flying laps over the course of one run on supersofts before parking up once more.
Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo slotted in behind the leading group and over a second adrift of Vettel’s pace, both complaining of problematic understeer.
Verstappen eventually got the better of Ricciardo in their internecine struggle, but his best time of 1m08.733s on supersofts was still 0.785s off Vettel.
The Saubers of Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson were initially fourth and fifth until they were displaced by the Red Bulls, and Leclerc’s hopes of improving his time were briefly thwarted when he was instructed to return to the pits so that the team could investigate a technical issue.
Leclerc hit the road again with 10 minutes to go and found more pace, but it wasn’t enough to earn the ‘best of the rest’ spot as the Haas duo of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, and the Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly, slotted in ahead, leaving Leclerc to round out the top 10.
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m08.733s||0.785s||12|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m08.788s||0.840s||12|
|9||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m09.402s||1.454s||22|
|12||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m09.588s||1.640s||18|
|16||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m09.985s||2.037s||18|
|19||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m10.116s||2.168s||18|
“Oggi il feeling generale con la vettura era migliore rispetto a ieri; abbiamo fatto progressi ed è una cosa positiva. In qualifica, in alcuni giri il comportamento era buono in alcuni punti e in altri giri in punti diversi, per cui era difficile mettere insieme il tempo. Sembrava molto più semplice questa mattina, in condizioni più fresche. Di certo queste qualifiche non sono state le più facili, ma delle volte le cose vanno così. Senza dubbio sarà una gara lunga e difficile. I tre top team partiranno con le stesse mescole, per cui vedremo come andrà. C’è un tratto molto lungo dal via alla prima staccata; cercheremo di fare una bella partenza e di stare lontano dai guai. Di solito la prima curva è piuttosto stretta e “movimentata”: se riesci a passarla bene, fa una differenza enorme. Poi si vedrà quello che accadrà in gara. La gestione delle gomme sarà il punto chiave”.
Mexican Grand Prix: Daniel Ricciardo beats Max Verstappen to pole
Daniel Ricciardo headed a Red Bull one-two to claim pole position for the Mexican Grand Prix as Formula 1 title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel completed the second row.
Ricciardo overhauled team-mate Max Verstappen on the final runs in qualifying to take his second pole of the season.
Hamilton was quickest on hypersofts in the opening phase of qualifying but Verstappen had the edge on ultrasofts in Q2 and took that momentum into Q3 to hold provisional pole after the first runs.
His 1m14.785s was almost two tenths of a second clear of Vettel, while Hamilton lost time in the middle sector but snuck ahead of the second Red Bull of Ricciardo to hold third spot.
Vettel, Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas all failed to improve on their second runs, but Ricciardo vaulted to top spot on a 1m14.759s.
That only put him 0.026s clear of Verstappen but was enough for pole given the Dutchman failed to improve despite setting a fastest first sector and Hamilton only managed a 1m14.894s.
Bottas will line up fifth with Raikkonen sixth on an all-Finish third row.
Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari were all able to progress to Q3 without using the softest compound.
That means they will all start the race on the more preferable ultrasoft tyre and can avoid the problematic hypersofts.
Renault continued to hold an advantage in the best-of-the-rest fight through qualifying but it was Charles Leclerc who hauled his Sauber to seventh on the first runs.
Leclerc outpaced Nico Hulkenberg by less than a tenth before the Renaults hit back on their second laps, with Hulkenberg leading Carlos Sainz Jr as Leclerc was shuffled to ninth.
His Sauber team-mate Marcus Ericsson completed the top 10 and was fortunate to make it through to the shootout having failed to improve on his second run in Q2.
With the hypersoft tyres degrading so rapidly in Friday practice Esteban Ocon has arguably the most favourable position of the midfield teams as the first of those who did not make Q3.
Ocon was 11th-fastest after Racing Point Force India opted to use supersofts and then ultrasofts in the second part of qualifying.
It means he and Sergio Perez, who qualified 13th, will have freedom of choice over the tyres they start the race on.
Fernando Alonso split the Force Indias in his McLaren, while the under-pressure Brendon Hartley was limited to 14th after a mistake on his final lap – Toro Rosso suggested he was on course for a lap time that would have been good enough to progress.
Hartley’s team-mate Pierre Gasly did not complete a timed lap in Q2 because Honda’s engine strategy and a gearbox change meant he went into the session consigned to a back-of-the-grid start, so Toro Rosso opted to save tyres and mileage.
Romain Grosjean was first of the drivers to be eliminated in the opening part of the session, missing out on progressing by just half a tenth.
He and Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen used three sets of hypersofts in their bid to make Q2 but still fell short.
Magnussen was 18th-fastest after failing to improve on his final run, with the McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne in between the Haas pair.
Williams duo Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin were slowest but will not fill out the last row of the grid as Gasly will drop back because of his penalty.
|1||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m14.759s||–|
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m14.785s||0.026s|
|11||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m16.844s||–|
|13||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m17.167s||–|
|14||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m17.184s||–|
|20||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||–||–|
Mexican Grand Prix practice: Max Verstappen fastest after damp start
Max Verstappen topped the final Formula 1 free practice session for the Mexican Grand Prix.
The Red Bull driver, whose hydraulic problem on Friday was caused by two wires rubbing together that caused a hole in a pipe, completed a clean sweep of practice by setting a best time of 1m16.385s with three minutes remaining using hypersoft Pirellis.
Despite complaining his front tyres were not up to temperature on that lap, this was enough to give him top spot, and he subsequently improved to a 1m16.284s as he took the chequered flag.
Lewis Hamilton was second fastest, 0.254 seconds down and just ahead of the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.
The session started in cool conditions but with the track damp following rain.
The majority of drivers went out for tentative installation laps in the early stages, mostly using intermediate rubber, Hamilton taking the chance to wave to the crowd as he rolled round.
It wasn’t until there were 28 minutes remaining that anyone posted a time, with McLaren driver Fernando Alonso briefly going fastest during the early flurry of times being set on slick rubber.
Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Stoffel Vandoorne and Charles Leclerc were among the drivers to have spells at the top during this phase, with the quickest lap times then coming at the end of the session once the track had dried up.
Daniel Ricciardo pipped Raikkonen to fourth fastest, with Leclerc topping ‘Class B’ in sixth place and just 0.775s down off the outright pace.
This is one place higher than the midfield leader normally occupies, because Valtteri Bottas’s Mercedes ground to a halt with a hydraulic problem with 15 minutes remaining.
Team boss Toto Wolff suggested at the end of the session that this could lead to an engine swap.
Carlos Sainz Jr was seventh fastest ahead of Pierre Gasly, with Marcus Ericsson and Nico Hulkenberg completing the top 10.
Racing Point Force India pairing Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez were 11th and 12th, three tenths ahead of Haas driver Romain Grosjean behind.
The McLaren drivers were shuffled down to 14th and 15th, Vandoorne ahead of Alonso.
Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was last, completing only one installation lap thanks to an intercooler problem.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m16.284s||–||9|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m17.028s||0.744s||7|
|8||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m17.525s||1.241s||16|
|11||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m17.731s||1.447s||10|
|12||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m17.819s||1.535s||10|
|16||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m18.637s||2.353s||10|
Q: Kimi, happy 39th birthday during the week, still plenty of speed there isn’t there?
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, a little bit too slow, but I can deal with it. No, it’s been a pretty positive day and for sure I think we got pretty close. It’s far from ideal but I feel good with the car. We’ll try tomorrow; it’s going to be a long race, and nobody really knows how the tyre will survive, because of yesterday’s rain, so it will be interesting.
Q: And of course you will start on the ultrasofts, unlike people around you?
KR: Yeah, not much to lose, so we’ll try to make a good start and go from there and see what we can do. I think it should be OK.
Q: Kimi, similar question to Sebastian really, with the gaps so close. Were you happy with your run, or do you feel you left anything out there?
KR: I think if you do a few more tries then for sure that amount you can improve. It’s just a very small difference somewhere, and you could be suddenly that much quicker – but this is what we got today. I think the last run was pretty good but the previous had very little grip, so then I was surprised how much on the last run I had, so obviously, when you have a bit more consistent grip it’s more easy to know how much you can actually push – but yeah, it was OK.
Q: And Kimi, you’ll be starting on the ultrasoft. Do you think the supersoft holds an advantage or are you confident?
KR: I have what I have and I’m happy about it so we will see how it works out tomorrow. It’s a bit impossible to say.
US Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton on pole, Sebastian Vettel fifth
Lewis Hamilton claimed his ninth Formula 1 pole position of the season in qualifying for the United States Grand Prix, while title rival Sebastian Vettel will start fifth.
Vettel was Hamilton’s closest challenger on pace in Austin qualifying, but has a three-place grid penalty for speeding under the safety car during Friday practice.
Hamilton had the advantage after the first runs in Q3, but came under attack from both Ferraris on his second run.
Kimi Raikkonen, who will start alongside Hamilton on the front row, briefly took top spot with a lap of 1m32.307s, only for Hamilton to retake it by 0.061 seconds.
Vettel then completed his lap, a 1m32.298s, to split the pair, subsequently saying over the radio that he tried everything he could to beat Hamilton.
Valtteri Bottas was 0.379s off Hamilton in the second Mercedes and ended the session fourth fastest ahead of the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo.
Both Mercedes drivers, Vettel and Ricciardo will start the race on the supersoft Pirellis having used that compound to set their Q2 times – although Raikkonen used ultrasofts.
Esteban Ocon was best of the rest in sixth place for the Racing Point Force India team, just ahead of Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg.
Romain Grosjean was eighth ahead of Sauber driver Charles Leclerc, with Sergio Perez 10th in the second Force India.
Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr was the quickest of those eliminated in Q2 in 11th place after failing to capitalise on team-mate Hulkenberg, who had a lock up into Turn 1, not improving on his second run.
Sainz set his best time of 1m34.566s to close to just two-thousandths from Hulkenberg and complained of "oversteer in the last corner, I don’t know why" costing him.
Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was 12th after also failing to improve on his second run thanks to losing time in the first sector.
Toro Rosso pairing Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley, who will both drop to the back of the grid thanks to Honda power unit change penalties, did not set times during Q2 and ended up 13th and 14th respectively.
Because both did at least take to the track, they were classified ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
The Dutchman could not run in Q2 after a failure in the right-rear corner when running over an exit kerb in the first segment of qualifying.
McLaren driver Fernando Alonso was 16th having been eliminated in Q1 by Hartley’s last gasp improvement.
Alonso was 0.441s up on Hartley after the first sectors of their final laps, but the Toro Rosso driver turned that deficit into a 0.088s advantage over sectors two and three to jump the McLaren.
Alonso will move back ahead of both Toro Rossos on the grid once the penalties are applied.
This put Alonso ahead of Williams pairing Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll in 17th and 18th respectively, with 0.118s separating the two.
Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson briefly elevated himself out of the dropzone in the final flurry of Q1 laps, only to be shuffled back down to 19th by the chequered flag.
Stoffel Vandoorne brought up the rear in the second McLaren, lapping two-tenths slower than Ericsson.
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m33.494s||1.257s|
|6||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m34.145s||1.908s|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m34.594s||2.357s|
|18||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||–||–|
|19||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||–||–|
|20||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||–||–|
Vettel heads Raikkonen in US GP FP3 at Austin, Hamilton takes third
Sebastian Vettel set the pace in the final Formula 1 practice session for the United States Grand Prix as the teams finally got some dry running.
Vettel outpaced Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen by less than a tenth, while championship leader and Friday pacesetter Lewis Hamilton jumped to third late-on as Ferrari and Mercedes adopted different approaches to an unusually busy Saturday practice.
After both Friday sessions took place in wet conditions, there was a flurry of activity at the start of FP3 with qualifying and the race due to be held in the dry.
The Ferraris were alone in using the ultrasoft tyres at first as others focused on longer runs, with Raikkonen heading Vettel by just 0.04s after their first efforts.
Race preparations meant there was little of note in the first half an hour, although Raikkonen did improve to a 1m34.419s.
Valtteri Bottas and Fernando Alonso engaged in an odd wheel-to-wheel scrap when Alonso dived inside the Mercedes heading into the uphill Turn 1 and Bottas repassed the McLaren around the outside going back down the incline into Turn 2.
Mercedes told Bottas Alonso was "playing games" as it continued to focus on long runs, but that changed in the second half-hour when a flurry of fast lap runs were carried out.
Bottas avoided the ultrasofts but did push on supersofts, setting a 1m34.446s, while Hamilton made a small mistake on his first push lap and then posted a time one tenth slower than his team-mate after a couple of laps at lower speed.
The Ferraris completed their third runs of the session on fresh ultrasofts, and Vettel used this to finally leapfrog Raikkonen into P1 by 0.046s with a 1m33.797s.
That remained the benchmark to the end, although a late effort from Hamilton got him ahead of team-mate Bottas.
Hamilton threatened to go fastest by setting the best middle sector of the session with two minutes to go, but he eventually wound up a tenth off Vettel after losing time at the end of the lap.
He managed to get within a tenth of his title rival and go 0.7s clear of Bottas, who set his best time on supersofts.
The Red Bulls trailed a few tenths behind Bottas, with Max Verstappen leading Daniel Ricciardo, while Charles Leclerc snuck to the front of the best-of-the-rest battle in a whirlwind of last-gasp improvement to take seventh.
Leclerc’s 1m35.365s put him half a tenth clear of Sergio Perez, as Carlos Sainz Jr and Romain Grosjean lapped within and just outside a tenth of the Sauber driver’s effort respectively.
|1||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari||1m33.797s||20|
|2||Kimi Raikkonen||Scuderia Ferrari||0.046s||21|
|3||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport||0.073s||23|
|4||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport||0.759s||21|
|5||Max Verstappen||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||0.906s||21|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||1.113s||20|
|7||Charles Leclerc||Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team||1.568s||21|
|8||Sergio Perez||Racing Point Force India F1 Team||1.614s||21|
|9||Carlos Sainz||Renault Sport Formula One Team||1.653s||21|
|10||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team||1.671s||19|
|11||Esteban Ocon||Racing Point Force India F1 Team||1.765s||22|
|12||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda||1.916s||27|
|13||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team||1.973s||19|
|14||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault Sport Formula One Team||2.085s||19|
|15||Marcus Ericsson||Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team||2.203s||21|
|16||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing||2.391s||21|
|17||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams Martini Racing||2.396s||20|
|18||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren F1 Team||2.505s||23|
|19||Brendon Hartley||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda||2.533s||26|
|20||Fernando Alonso||McLaren F1 Team||2.535s||20|
Japanese GP: Hamilton takes pole, Vettel only ninth as rain arrives
Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for Formula 1’s Japanese Grand Prix, while title rival Sebastian Vettel ended up ninth after a failed intermediate tyre gamble.
Hamilton hit the front on supersofts on the first runs in Q3, lapping 0.299 seconds faster than Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
That lap of 1m27.760s proved to be fast enough to secure pole position given renewed rain that hit the track in the middle of the session.
Both Mercedes drivers will start on the soft compound Pirellis, having used them to set their Q2 times.
Ferrari drivers Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, meanwhile, were sent out on intermediates at the start of Q3 in anticipation of the rain coming earlier.
Both were forced to abort their runs to take on slicks, meaning their first flying laps came just as rain was on the cusp of falling, and while Raikkonen was able to post a 1m29.521s to secure fourth behind Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, Vettel ran off the track at Spoon Curve after the rear stepped out and posted only a 1m32.192s.
For good measure, Vettel later went off through the gravel at Degner 1 while cruising on slicks in the intensifying rain.
This allowed Haas driver Romain Grosjean, who will be the only driver in the midfield group in the top 10 to start on softs having brilliantly used the tyre to set his Q2 time, to take ‘Class B’ pole position in fifth.
His Q3 lap put him just over two-tenths faster than Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley.
The Honda-powered team had set a target of having both cars in Q3 after using its ‘Spec 3’ engine for qualifying for the first time, and Hartley slotted in ahead of team-mate Pierre Gasly in seventh.
Racing Point Force India duo Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez were eighth and 10th, sandwiching Vettel’s Ferrari.
Perez also did not set a serious time, lapping 9.5s off the pace, having aborted his lap on his first run.
Ocon was subsequently given a three-place grid penalty for a red-flag procedure infringement in practice, so his demotion to 11th will raise Vettel to eighth.
Sauber driver Charles Leclerc was the quickest of those eliminated in Q2, in which rain meant the first-run times decided the order.
Leclerc was 11th after his first run, but attempted to complete a lap on his second set of supersofts in the forlorn hope of breaking into the top 10 before spinning exiting Degner 1.
Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was 12th fastest having used softs on his first run and lapping 0.548s slower than Grosjean in Q2 on the same compound.
Carlos Sainz Jr was 13th for Renault ahead of Williams driver Lance Stroll.
Daniel Ricciardo was 15th after failing to set a time in Q2, cruising into the pits at the end of his outlap with what appeared to be an engine problem.
Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg was eliminated in Q1, having had his first run compromised by a red flag caused by Marcus Ericsson crashing in Turn 7.
The Swede ran wide onto the grass through the left-hander then spun into the barrier on his second push lap, leading to a six-minute red flag.
Hulkenberg was, along with team-mate Sainz and Perez, one of three drivers not to have set a time at that point, and after going out immediately after the restart was relegated into the dropzone by a flurry of improvements as Q1 was chequered flagged.
Sainz was the driver whose improvement actually relegated Hulkenberg into the bottom five, with the German ending up just 0.044s slower than Stroll ahead.
Sergey Sirotkin was 17th, just 0.011s slower than Hulkenberg, with McLaren’s Fernando Alonso 18th on his first taste of the fastest supersoft Pirellis of the weekend.
Team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne was 19th having had to use soft rubber for his first run before moving onto supersofts, putting him ahead only of Ericsson.
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m29.057s||1.297s|
|6||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m30.023s||2.263s|
|7||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m30.093s||2.333s|
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m37.229s||9.469s|
|11||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m30.126s||–|
|15||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||–||–|
Japanese GP: Hamilton completes Suzuka F1 practice clean sweep in FP3
Lewis Hamilton continued his domination ahead of Japanese Grand Prix qualifying as the final Formula 1 practice session at Suzuka ended early after a Nico Hulkenberg crash.
Hamilton improved late on to topple title rival Sebastian Vettel, having spent most of the session at the foot of the times following an early rain shower.
Kimi Raikkonen led Ferrari team-mate Vettel by a tenth on their initial flying laps on supersofts before light rain increased after a quarter of an hour.
That left the Ferraris on top, with Friday pacesetter and championship leader Hamilton slowest of the 20 drivers.
Hamilton did not set a representative time in his Mercedes after aborting his first flying lap then locking up and going down the escape road at the final chicane on his second.
A slide for Sergio Perez at Spoon confirmed slick tyres were no longer suitable for the conditions and track action stopped for 15 minutes while teams waited for the weather to improve.
Valtteri Bottas broke the silence just after the half-hour mark and reported the track was fine but for damp kerbs, and that sparked a series of improvements.
Fernando Alonso was the first to lower his time with 20 minutes to go, although the McLaren driver remained near the tail end of the field in 17th.
It took a while for the leaders to find time, with Raikkonen messing up his first effort by going off-track at the end of the esses in the first sector.
Vettel set a personal best in the first sector but then ran wide exiting Degner 2, and complained he was still struggling with the rear as he failed to improve.
The final 10 minutes proved decisive, with first Vettel going quicker on a 1m29.715s and then Hamilton lapping 0.116 seconds quicker despite a slightly scruffy lap.
Vettel was quicker in the first two sectors but shipped almost half a second in the final sector, which is the second part of the long back straight, 130R and the final chicane.
Raikkonen did not improve and fell to third, ahead of Max Verstappen in the leading Red Bull.
Bottas ended up fifth in the second Mercedes, 0.8s slower than Hamilton, with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo sixth.
A late flier from Esteban Ocon took him to seventh ahead of Racing Point Force India team-mate Sergio Perez as Carlos Sainz Jr (Renault) and Kevin Magnussen (Haas) completed the top 10.
Any chance of final improvements was extinguished with less than three minutes to go when Hulkenberg rear-ended his Renault into the barriers halfway through the uphill esses at the start of the lap.
Hulkenberg ran a little wide on the exit of the first left-right and his car swapped ends as he tried to correct the slide, which sent him into the wall with quite considerable damage.
The session was red flagged and did not resume.
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m30.304s||0.705s||13|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m30.474s||0.875s||10|
|7||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m31.088s||1.489s||12|
|8||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m31.483s||1.884s||12|
|13||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m32.030s||2.431s||13|
|20||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m33.105s||3.506s||10|