Heading into qualifying, no one was able to decide who was favourite – Mercedes or Red Bull and both teams were branding themselves as the underdog. The fight was on…
Only minutes into qualifying, Yuki Tsunoda took a hefty impact into the barriers and brought out the red flag. The Japanese driver was completely unharmed but the same could not be said for the rear of his ATO2.
Q1 got back under way fairly swiftly and all the remaining drivers posted their lap times. The five knocked out at the end of the first session were Räikkönen, Giovinazzi, Schumacher, Mazepin and Tsunoda.
Once qualifying 2 got underway, it was clear most the drivers were not confident enough to run the medium compound tyre, which would allow them to use a 1-stop strategy in the race, as only Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen ran the yellow-striped tyre.
The star performers of the second session were Perez and Norris who finished 1st and 2nd respectively. George Russell also impressed and managed to take his Williams into P12. The drivers knocked out of the session were Sainz, Russell, Vettel, Latifi and Alonso (ending a run of 27 consecutive races where he wasn’t outqualified by a temmate).
As the drivers went out of the garages to complete their final lap of Q3, it was anybody’s game. Hamilton had provisional pole but Perez, Verstappen and Norris were not far behind. There were celebrations in the McLaren garage when Norris crossed the line for second, only for his time to then get deleted for a track limits infringement, dropping him well down the field to seventh. The final top 3 is Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen.
The Full Grid is as Follows: