Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc claimed his ninth pole position of the 2022 Formula 1 season beating Red Bull’s Sergio Perez by 0.022 of a second with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton a further 0.032 behind Perez in third.
Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso, Lando Norris, and Pierre Gasly would lock out positions four to seven with championship protagonist Max Verstappen qualifying eighth after being asked to pit in bizzare circumstances.
Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda would round out the top 10.
Q3: Verstappen asked to box in puzzling circumstances
The final part of qualifying would see several drivers opt to use the soft compound tyre with Magnussen and Tsunoda the only drivers sticking with the intermediate tyres.
As the drivers completed their first laps of the session it would be Hamilton who would set the quickest lap time, claiming provisional pole position ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and Perez.
With two minutes to go in the session, the challenge presented to the drivers was how they could best maintain the temperatures in the tyres.
A flurry of activity on the circuit would ultimately see Leclerc claim pole position with Perez and Hamilton qualifying second and third respectively.
The session would end in baffling circumstances as Red Bull would instruct Verstappen to box as the Dutchman was fighting to claim pole. The call would lead to Verstappen letting off an expelative laden response with the Red Bull driver clearly confused by the call.
Q2: Russell misses out
The second part of qualifying would see the drivers continue to use the intermediate tyre with Ferrari’s Leclerc topping the time sheets after the lead drivers completed their opening runs.
The Monegasque driver would echo Verstappen’s sentiment from Q1 stating that despite the session progressing, the track wasn’t drying at the rate the paddock expected it to.
As the session dipped below the five minute mark, some of the drivers decided to swap their intermediate tyres for a set of dry tyre, with Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll opting for the soft compound tyre along with Alfa Romeo’s Guanyu Zhou.
The decision would prove to be a poor one, with Zhou complaining about a lack of grip and the Aston Martin pair struggling to set a competitive time.
The session’s big surprise however was Mercedes’ George Russell who would miss the Q3 cut by 0.006 of a second.
The other drivers who would join Russell in exiting the qualifying session were Stroll, Mick Schumacher, Vettel, and Zhou.
Q1: Ricciardo disappoints once again
A damp track greeted the drivers, with the circuit being soaked by rain throughout the day. The first drivers to make their way onto the circuit were the Mercedes pair of Hamilton and Russell.
Hamilton would top the time sheets with a lap time of 1.56.937, highlighting the tricky nature of navigating through a wet race track.
Ferrari’s Leclerc would then go to the top of the timing sheets with the 2019 pole sitter going close to eighth-tenths quicker than the Mercedes drivers.
Verstappen’s lap time of 1.54.395 would be good enough to go P1, though he would come on the team radio to inform his engineer that despite the improvement in lap time, it was still not the best time to swap to dry tyres.
With five minutes left in the session, the lap times kept improving as the track rubbered up and the wet patches evaporated.
However, as the checkered flag dropped and the session came to a close it was Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo, Esteban Ocon, Alex Albon, and Nicholas Latifi who would miss out on Q2.