Mercedes locked out the front row, with Vettel and the two Red Bulls behind. Kimi Raikkonen failed to get a clean lap in Q3 and starts P6.
Lewis Hamilton: “I’m really happy with the pole, but I always strive for perfection and there was some time left on the track, so I still have stuff to work on. I was three tenths down in the first two sectors; but fortunately, I fixed my last sector and caught it back up. Leading the field is where I want to be, so it’s great to be back on pole. The track is growing on me as well; the more you drive it, the more you get to enjoy it. This is one of the most beautiful places in the world and we have so many fans coming out here, so I’m hoping the weather is good tomorrow. Ferrari will start the race on the ultrasoft tyres, we’re on the supersofts, so that should be interesting. We definitely pulled together and have done a better job so far this weekend, but it’s going to be close tomorrow. So I will keep my head down and try to capitalise on all the hard work coming into the race.”
Valtteri Bottas: “We were strong today, the team did a really good job. I myself got an okay lap, but did not yet get a perfect lap together. It felt like I was playing catch-up all day after I missed a lot of track time in FP2 track time in FP3 was limited for everyone. So I was still finding gains in every run throughout qualifying. In the end it was not quite perfect, but it was enough to get us a front-row lockout. The team has done an amazing job upgrading the car; every single upgrade, including the engine, helped to make the car better and the total package brought us the front row today. It seems like it might be difficult to overtake on this track, so it’s very good to start from the front. We will see different strategies tomorrow, Ferrari will start on a softer tyre than and it will be interesting to see what effect that has. We have a good car and should have all the tools to fight for a 1-2 tomorrow and I’ll do my best to fight for the win.”
Sebastian Vettel: “During the session, it was getting better and better and I was more confident. So, I think today we can be happy with the third place. My last run was not spectacular, though, and I don’t think it was good enough to put me n the front row. After my first attempt in Q3, I had thought I could be closer to Mercedes and hoped to improve. But, unfortunately, in my last fast run I pushed a bit too much and made some mistakes here and there. Anyway, the car is good and we proved it. Let’s see what happens tomorrow, as we start with different tyre strategies. I think the car should be strong in the race.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “My car was working well today and it was a pretty straightforward qualifying until my last run. I was not able to put a timed lap together in the whole of Q3. The first run was pretty decent, but then I went a bit sideways in turn 11, and lost time. After that I was not able to improve my lap time. For tomorrow we chose the strategy that we think is the best for us, but we have to wait and see. In other races we have seen people starting with different tires and it did not change things from night to day. For sure tomorrow will be a challenging day.”
Max Verstappen: “I don’t think we maximised the potential of the car in Qualifying today. I was struggling a bit with front grip which didn’t make it easy, but we still qualified in fourth. It would have been nice if it had continued raining all day but unfortunately it dried up just in time for the session. We can see that on the straights we are still down on speed compared to the Mercedes but also we didn’t have the balance of the car perfect, in the long corners we were losing time also. In the race I think we will have to wait and see. My race pace looks good but so does a lot of the others and coming to a new race means anything can happen. I start on the supersoft so Sebastian should have a bit more grip, this will make it a little tricky but hopefully we will go for longer on our tyres. All weekend we haven’t really had a reference as the track is new, there are still a lot of question marks ahead of tomorrow so we just have to wait and see what happens.”
Daniel Ricciardo: “We split the cars yesterday, on the downforce levels, with Max lower than me. It was pretty evenly matched yesterday but it looked like the low was worth trying. We put that on for this morning but with the weather we didn’t get to try it. We decided not to run in Qualifying with something we hadn’t tried yet, but we still had a lot of front wing in hand but I think by the end of Q1 we had already used every bit of it and we still had understeer. In other sessions you can do other things on the car but in quali your hands are tied so it was a frustrating day. For tomorrow come race time I’ll be confident but I think we’re going to be a little slow on the straights compared to the guys in front but if it rains then we might be the lucky dogs. I think the wet will make it interesting. In the dry on raw pace we are not quick enough to challenge Mercedes, but in the wet I think it will be exciting for the fans.”