Qualifying got underway with five drivers; Fernando Alonso, Pierre Gasly, Brendon Hartley, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen; facing grid penalties. Fans were facing the prospect of all of them not even bothering to run in Q1.
Thankfully they did although for Alonso and Hartley it was a quick afternoon of work as they did not make it out of Q1. They were joined on the sidelines by Sergey Sirtokin, who spun and tagged the barrier, Stoffel Vandoorne and Lance Stroll.
Ricciardo, Verstappen and Gasly made it into Q2, however, none of the three left the pits. They dropped out along with Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg, who for an undisclosed reason also did not run in the session. Speculation is that Renault want to have freedom of tyre choice come Sunday.
BREAKING: ELIMINATED, Q2
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 29, 2018
Into the top-ten shoot-out and it was all about Hamilton and that 80th pole position milestone. He was quickest in Q1 and again in Q2 but it all fell apart in Q3.
The Mercedes driver posted a 1:31.532 but that was beaten by Bottas. The Finn holding a 0.004s advantage.
On their second run it appeared as if Hamilton would pip Bottas after a brilliant first sector only for a mistake in the second to cost him more than a second.
Bottas upped his pace to a 1:31.386 with Hamilton 0.145s down.
Sebastian Vettel was third fastest ahead of his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen while Kevin Magnussen was best of the rest in fifth.
Esteban Ocon finished P7 ahead of Charles Leclerc, who secured a career-best start, Sergio Perez, Romain Grosjean and Marcus Ericsson.
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:31.387
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.145s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 0.556s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 0.85s
5 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1.794s
6 Esteban Ocon Force India 2.026s
7 Charles Leclerc Sauber 2.032s
8 Sergio Perez Force India 2.176s
9 Romain Grosjean Haas 2.317s
10 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 3.809s
11 Max Verstappen Red Bull no time
12 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull no time
13 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso no time
14 Carlos Sainz Renault no time
15 Nico Hulkenberg Renault no time
16 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:35.037
17 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:35.504
18 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 1:35.612
19 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:35.977
20 Lance Stroll Williams 1:36.437