Home favourites Ferrari were once again Mercedes closest challengers, with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen the only drivers able to get within a second of the rapid Silver Arrows.
Williams’ Valtteri Bottas was best of the rest, ahead of the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen and the Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg, with Haas’ Esteban Gutierrez completing the top ten.
Hamilton owned Q1 with a superb 1m 21.854s on supersofts, as Rosberg lagged in second on 1m 22.497s. Vettel was third on 1m 23.077s, but on the soft Pirellis.
Further back, Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was bumped from Q2 by McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, leaving the Russian a frustrated 17th on 1m 23.825s. Felipe Nasr’s misfiring Sauber was next on 1m 23.956s from team mate Marcus Ericsson on 1m 24.087s, leaving the Renaults of Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen as the last cars with timed laps. Both got the Ascari chicane wrong when on target for better laps, but ultimately a lack of straight-line speed cost them. The Englishman thus had to rely on 1m 24.230s, the Dane 1m 24.436s.
Esteban Ocon’s Manor cut out again as it had in FP3, stranding him at the first chicane on his out lap. He thus did not record a time.
Hamilton went faster on softs in Q2 with 1m 21.498s – and it was a mark of his authority that his time on the yellow-marked rubber would have been good enough for pole, had it have been set in Q3. Rosberg also improved, to 1m 21.809s, on the same rubber, meaning Mercedes will be the only team in the top ten to start on softs, though Hamilton’s front right has a small flat-spot after some heavy braking for the first chicane.
Behind the lead two, Vettel went faster than he had in Q1 too, albeit on supersofts, with 1m 22.275s.
Sergio Perez was out of Q3, then jumped back in right at the end at Felipe Massa’s expense. That left the Williams driver 11th on 1m 22.967s. Romain Grosjean was next on 1m 23.092s, tricky since Haas team mate Esteban Gutierrez was a great seventh between the Red Bulls, but a penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change (the cause of his FP3 spin) drops the Frenchman to 17th.
The McLarens of Alonso and Jenson Button sandwiched Pascal Wehrlein’s Manor; the Spaniard lapped in 1m 23.273s, the German 1m 23.315s and the Englishman 1m 23.399s. Carlos Sainz was 16th for Toro Rosso, on 1m 23.496s.
Hamilton went back to supersofts to set the pace after the first runs in Q3, with 1m 21.346s to Rosberg’s 1m 21.646s, while Raikkonen aced Vettel with 1m 22.065s to 1m 22.347s. Then Bottas did 1m 22.457s to displace the Red Bulls of Ricciardo and Verstappen, who had done 1m 22.505s and 1m 22.621s apiece.
On the second runs Hamilton nailed it yet again with 1m 21.135s, leaving Rosberg on 1m 21.613s as Vettel improved to third with a decent 1m 21.972s. Raikkonen didn’t improve, and neither did Bottas, but Ricciardo lowered his time to 1m 22.389s, a thousandth behind the Finn, and went back ahead of Verstappen who had improved to 1m 22.411s.
Perez jumped Force India team mate Nico Hulkenberg for eighth with 1m 22.814s to 1m 22.836s, as Gutierrez made do with 1m 23.184s for 10th after going wide at the second Lesmo on his first run.
Thus, without any further penalties, the grid will line up: Hamilton, Rosberg; Vettel, Raikkoneen; Bottas, Ricciardo; Verstappen, Perez; Hulkenberg, Gutierrez; Massa, Alonso; Wehrlein, Button; Sainz, Kvyat; Grosjean, Nasr; Ericsson, Palmer; Magnussen, Ocon.