Nico Rosberg, 1m 36.067s, P1
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 36.443s, P2
Both drivers experienced brake problems during the day, Rosberg a glazed disc in FP3, Hamilton the left front locking all through qualifying and flat-spotting his Q2 soft tyres with which he must start the race. But Mercedes’ advantage in lap time was as great as ever as they wrapped up the front row. Rosberg, however, was unbeatable on this occasion and Hamilton said that even without his problems he doubted whether he would have been able to take pole. The scene is thus set for a frenetic duel between them, as Rosberg needs to claw back as much of Hamilton’s 17-point advantage as they head into the two final races.
Valtteri Bottas, 1m 36.906s, P3
Felipe Massa, 1m 37.205s, P4
Williams have had pace all weekend, and Bottas’s lap at the start of Q3 was a blinder as he moved ahead of Massa for the first time in qualifying. The Finn said he was happy with the way things went once he’d found a set-up that gave him full confidence in the car, while the Brazilian rued being behind him and thus on the dirty side of the grid having been the quicker driver for so long.
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 37.244s, P5
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 39.621s, P17, will start from pit lane
Ricciardo felt he got everything from the RB10 package that he could, on a weekend when Red Bull have been struggling. Vettel did run in Q1, after the stewards indicated that’s what they wanted to see, but made only a token effort as he will in any case be starting the race from the pit lane after his car was fitted with a complete new powertrain overnight.
Fernando Alonso, 1m 37.610s, P6
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 37.804s, P9, will start P8
Alonso said that sixth on the grid was the best he could have hoped from his car, and was relieved to have been that high up considering that Ferrari had pondered replacing his powertrain at one stage which would have meant a pit-lane start. Raikkonen was not far off him this time, but said he was troubled by understeer all through Q3.
Jenson Button, 1m 37.655s, P7, will start P12
Kevin Magnussen, 1m 37.706s, P8, will start P7
McLaren’s engineers came up with the solution to their FP3 problems of feeble grip in the windy and cold conditions of the day, and both Button and Magnussen were very closely matched throughout qualifying. Sadly for Button he drops five grid places - and from the clean side of the grid to the dirty - because of a gearbox change.
Adrian Sutil, 1m 38.810s, P10, will start P9
Esteban Gutierrez, 1m 39.555s, P16, will start P15
Courtesy of Sutil, Sauber made it through to Q3 for the first time this year, giving the Swiss team a realistic chance of much-needed points (they have yet to score in 2015), and there was another bonus when the German moved up a further place because of Button’s penalty. While he was happy with his car, Gutierrez admitted that he struggled to get the best out of his on the soft tyre in Q1.
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 38.467s, P11, will start P10
Romain Grosjean, 1m 39.679s, P18, will start P16
Lotus had a mixed day. Maldonado just missed out on a Q3 run by a tenth of a second but nevertheless qualified 11th, the team’s best position of the season, and made the top 10 subsequently through Button’s penalty. But Grosjean had a tough time, struggling for grip and balance in Q1 as he took his second-worst start position of the year.
Sergio Perez, 1m 38.554s, P12, will start P11
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 38.598s, P13
Perez has struggled all weekend with the wind and poor grip, and said he needed two sets of the soft Pirellis just to get through Q1, leaving him only one for Q2. Hulkenberg, however, was convinced that Q3 would have been possible but had an extraordinary experience on his final Q2 run when a tear-off visor wrapped itself round a front wheel entering Turn 12 and forced him to understeer off the road.
Daniil Kvyat, 1m 38.699s, P14, will start P17
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 39.250s, P15, will start P14
Toro Rosso were badly hit by the drop in temperature as Kvyat and Vergne struggled to generate tyre temperature. Vergne had to switch too to an old-specification engine, and Kvyat had a 10-place grid drop to serve for an engine change, so all round it was a deeply frustrating day for the team.