Another Ferrari blunder leaves Vettel languishing

Sebastian Vettel: Ferrari issues once again

Sebastian Vettel: Ferrari issues once again

Another Grand Prix weekend, another Ferrari blunder. Heading into Q3 on the wrong tyres, it all quickly unravelled for Sebastian Vettel…

Here is how qualifying day unfolded…

Formula 1 arrived at the Suzuka circuit on Saturday morning to damp and windy conditions. But while there was some rain in the build-up to FP3, it remained hot and muggy.

Taking to the track, the drivers once again explored every inch of the Suzuka circuit with many riding the kerbs as they ran a bit too wide. Gusting winds did not help with Sergey Sirotkin sending up a spray of sparks as he ran wide and the floor of his Williams hit the ground.

Ferrari held the early 1-2 before the rain arrived.

Lewis Hamilton had a big lock up with the Brit one of three drivers who didn’t set a time before the rain came down.

It was rather windy…

After a lull as the rain came down, Valtteri Bottas broke the silence, heading out onto a nearly dry Suzuka circuit thanks to the heat and wind.

Esteban Ocon puts in the laps in what could be his final Japanese GP, at least until 2020. He is in talks with Williams in the hope of finding a place on next year’s grid.

Kimi Raikkonen added his name to the list of those getting tripped up by the wind as Sebastian Vettel reported that the rear of his SF71H felt very unstable.

The session, though, belonged to Hamilton who laid down a 1:29.599 to claim the practice hat-trick.

Lewis Hamilton: Top of tree in FP3

It was, however, Nico Hulkenberg who made the headlines as he crashed heavily at the Esses to bring out the red flags. Renault face a race against time to get his car ready for qualifying.

Renault did a great job in getting Hulkenberg ready in time for qualifying, but Marcus Ericsson would bring out an early red flag in Q1 after suffering a similar crash to the Renault driver.

Hulkenberg may have been ready for qualifying, yet it was over very quickly with a shock Q1 exit.

Not a shock however…

And also not a shock in Q2…

In the Q3 battle, the unpredictable weather conditions led to some difference of opinion, in other words: another Ferrari mistake.

And then…

That decision, plus a crucial spin from Vettel which left him even further out of sync before the rain arrived, led to a disastrous qualifying with the German starting down in P9 for Sunday’s race.

P9 has since become P8 for Vettel after Esteban Ocon was given a three-place grid drop for failing to slow sufficiently during red flags  in FP2. The Frenchman now starts P11.

On pole position, of course…

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