Hamilton was over three-tenths quicker than Rosberg, but no one else could get within a second of the world champion. Red Bull were the Silver Arrows’ nearest rivals, with Max Verstappen third and Daniel Ricciardo fourth.
Kimi Raikkonen out-qualified Ferrari team mate Sebastian Vettel in fifth and sixth respectively, with the latter set to drop five grid places for a gearbox change. Valtteri Bottas was seventh for Williams, with Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso completing the top ten.
Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson did not participate in qualifying following his heavy crash in final practice. The Swede climbed unaided from his wrecked car and was taken to hospital for routine medical checks. Though he was subsequently declared okay by his team, he did not return to the circuit in time for the session.
The afternoon’s opening Q1 phase saw Jenson Button’s hopes dashed right at the end of Q1. As the British driver sat helpless waiting for McLaren to remedy a loose rear wing, faster runs by Renault’s Kevin Magnussen and Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat eased him down to 17th on 1m 32.788s, just 0.059s slower than the Russian.
Button’s compatriot Jolyon Palmer also failed to make it through to Q2, the Renault racer’s 1m 32.905s being two-tenths off his Danish team mate’s time. Rio Haryanto just edged out Manor partner Pascal Wehrlein, with 1m 33.098s to 1m 33.151s, as Felipe Nasr struggled to 1m 33.544s in the sole Sauber to run.
As Hamilton headed Rosberg by 0.727s in Q2 and Raikkonen made a meal of taking sixth place after a spin at Club and an off at Turn 3, Sainz’s late improvement to eighth pushed Sergio Perez out of Q3. The Mexican had lapped his Force India in 1m 31.875s. Behind him, Felipe Massa struggled to 12th on 1m 32.002s for Williams, just ahead of Romain Grosjean on 1m 32.050s for Haas. His team mate, Esteban Gutierrez was next on 1m 32.241s, followed by Kvyat on 1m 32.306s and Magnussen on 1m 37.060s.
Hamilton again beat Rosberg on their first runs in Q3, with 1m 29.339s to 1m 29.606s, but then came sensation as the stewards decided that two wheels over the kerb at Copse was a track limits violation and docked the Englishman’s time. It all came down to the last runs.
And Hamilton rose to the challenge, going faster still with 1m 29.287s as Rosberg’s response was a slower time, 1m 29.715s. The crowd were very happy.
Verstappen again bettered Ricciardo, 1m 30.313s to 1m 30.618s - the Dutchman had a slower lap of 1m 30.925s deleted for a track limits violation in Copse - as Raikkonen took fifth with 1m 30.881s ahead of subdued partner Vettel, on 1m 31.490s. Bottas was seventh on 1m 31.557s, ahead of Hulkenberg on 1m 32.172s (a 1m 31.920s was deleted for running wide at Copse), Sainz on 1m 31.989s and Alonso on 1m 32.343s after the Spaniard had a lap of 1m 31.687s disallowed, again for exceeding track limits at Copse.
Thus with penalties applied, the provisional grid lines up as follows: Hamilton, Rosberg; Verstappen, Ricciardo; Raikkonen Bottas; Hulkenberg, Sainz; Alonso, Perez; Vettel, Massa; Grosjean, Gutierrez; Kvyat, Magnussen; Button, Palmer; Haryanto.