Fighting at the front or mowing the lawn

Michelle Foster

Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull all vied for P1 in Saturday’s final practice while Renault and Force India tested their grass cutting technique.

The good news for Haas is that Kevin Magnussen was given the go-ahead to contest FP3 by the FIA’s doc. Magnussen was unwell on Friday and skipped the drivers’ briefing due to a stomach bug.

Pierre Gasly prepares for FP3 just hours after Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost confirmed that the Frenchman and Brendon Hartley are the team’s “high possibility” line-up for next season.

Home favourite Sergio Perez puts in the laps in the hope of a good build-up to qualifying.

A puff of smoke and Gasly’s morning was over with an engine issue.

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel pass one another on the track… nothing as dramatic as the photo implies.

Valtteri Bottas set the pace midway through FP3 with a new lap record of 1:17.5.

Vettel spent a few moments up in P1 as he posted a 1:17.230 to lead the way.

Gasly’s car was returned to the pits with the ‘hook man’ on standby should anything go wrong with the ERS as others worked on the car.

Max Verstappen finished FP3 quickest of all with a new lap record of 1:17.113.

Q1 began with 19 cars after Pierre Gasly took no part in qualifying as Toro Rosso mechanics chose not to rush the engine change with a 15-place grid penalty to come anyway.

It was the usual suspects fighting to get out of the Q1 elimination zone, with the Sauber duo of Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrelin joining Haas’ Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen the early victims alongside Gasly.

Max Verstappen made everyone stand up and take notice in Q2, setting a blistering 1:16.5 to make him the driver to beat heading into the top 10 shoot-out.

And while Verstappen was able to stamp in another 1:16 in Q3, he was pipped to a first career pole position by Vettel who clinched his 50th career pole. Hamilton was way off the pace in P3.