Actually, the number of pit stops is fairly clear for most people, as changing tyres twice will be the quickest way to go, running Medium, Medium, Hard, although picking the best moment to make those switches is the really tricky part.
When it came to this afternoon’s qualifying session, no one could complain of a lack of tyres, as the slicks hadn’t been used at all until this morning. In Q1, Carlos Sainz had a clear run through to P7 and Max Verstappen was lying eighth. Then, when the Dutchman made a further run, his electrics deserted him at the exit to the hairpin and that’s where he stayed with the car stuck in gear. His afternoon’s work was over and he was credited with the fifteenth fastest time. As for Carlos, he was complaining of vibrations, which were affecting his performance enough to prevent him making it to Q3 today. He was twelfth fastest at the end of the day.
Carlos will actually start tenth. That’s because Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg – 11th fastest today – has a penalty from Singapore and Kvyat will start from pit lane. Our former driver had a very big crash at the kink after Degner and unfortunately our friends at Red Bull will be working late to get his car ready for tomorrow. The most important story from today therefore is that Dany is fine. Unfortunately, Max’s day got worse after the session. The Race Director noted that having first moved to the left side of the track to pull off after his technical problem, he eventually moved to the right and was deemed to have left the car in a potentially dangerous position. He has been given a three place grid penalty, but because of the misfortune of others, he will actually only have to drop back to 17th.
Nico Rosberg took pole position for only the second time this season ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, while the second row features Valtteri Bottas, third for Williams and Sebastian Vettel fourth in the Ferrari.
Although qualifying started at 3pm local time, the race is on an hour earlier on Sunday, to ensure better light conditions.