By way of consolation for Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen took third, narrowly beating the flying Force India of Sergio Perez. Daniel Ricciardo was fifth for Red Bull, followed by Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, who was separated from team mate Felipe Massa by the second Force India of Nico Hulkenberg. Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz completed the top ten.
As Q1 saw Hamilton fastest on Pirelli’s supersoft tyres on 1m 40.974s, Ferrari spent much of the session on softs, and when Romain Grosjean improved late on to go 10th for Lotus, Vettel found himself left on 1m 42.941s - the time he set on softs - after backing off when he thought he had done enough to progress. He thus missed the cut by 0.012s.
Fernando Alonso was another former champion to lose out, with 1m 43.187s his best for McLaren after a late left-rear puncture. Marcus Ericsson had a technical problem on his Sauber, which limited him to 1m 43.838s, while at the back Will Stevens had an easier ride than of late, comfortably beating Marussia team mate Robert Merhi 1m 46.297s to 1m 47.434s. However, Stevens will drop five grid places as a penalty for his team making an unscheduled change of his Control Electronics unit.
In Q2 Hamilton again set the pace with a 1m 40.758s on supersofts, with Rosberg next up and Raikkonen some way off in third with 1m 41.612s.
Sainz bumped his Toro Rosso team mate Max Verstappen out of Q3, with 1m 42.482s to 1m 42.561s, as Jenson Button’s 1m 42.668s left him an encouraging 12th for McLaren. Pastor Maldonado was 13th on 1m 42.807s for Lotus, ahead of the Sauber of Felipe Nasr on 1m 43. 614s.
Grosjean never got a run, as his Lotus developed a gearbox problem. He tried to get a lap in right at the end, only for the E23 Hybrid to roll to a silent halt in Turn 8, thus ending the Frenchman’s final qualifying session with the Enstone team.
Rosberg came back at Hamilton in Q3; the champion’s first effort was a disappointing 1m 41.016s as the lap faded in the final sector. Rosberg demolished that easily with 1m 40.738s, the fastest lap yet in the weekend. Perez was their closest challenger, on 1m 41.184s.
Hamilton took back the initiative with 1m 40.614s on his second run, but Rosberg wasn’t finished and came through to regain pole with 1m 40.237s. Behind them, Raikkonen got it right for 1m 41.051s to snatch third from Perez, who was nonetheless an excellent fourth with 1m 41.184s.
Ricciardo’s 1m 41.444s left him fifth, with Bottas sixth on 1m 41.656s, fractions ahead of Hulkenberg on 1m 41.686s. Massa was eighth with 1m 41.759s, and Kvyat’s second run was an improvement to 1m 41.933s for ninth. Sainz did 1m 42.708s for 10th.
Thus with penalties taken into account the provisional grid will line up: Rosberg, Hamilton; Raikkonen, Perez; Ricciardo, Bottas; Hulkenberg, Massa; Kvyat, Sainz; Verstappen, Button; Maldonado, Nasr; Grosjean, Vettel; Alonso, Ericsson; Merhi, Stevens.