Valtteri Bottas will start the final race of 2017 from pole position after edging his team mate in qualifying.
Bottas kept Hamilton back by 0.172 seconds after both Mercedes drivers failed to improve with their last laps of the session.
The Mercedes pair headed the times at the end of Q1, Bottas lowering the course record again. But Ferrari looked threatening, Raikkonen lapping within a tenth of a second of the two silver cars. All chose the ultra-soft tyres.
Behind them the margins were even finer between those trying to claim a place in Q2. Lance Stroll secured his progression beyond Q1 with the final lap of the session, knocking Romain Grosjean out by 13 thousandths of a second. “Oh God that was everything,” the Williams driver exclaimed after taking the flag.
The Toro Rosso drivers were rooted to the bottom of the times as the final runs began, and although Pierre Gasly was able to move ahead of the two Saubers all of them failed to progress any further. Brendon Hartley acknowledged his first lap was poor and made a mistake at turn one on his final run, ending up at the bottom of the times by almost half a second.
Drivers eliminated in Q1
|17||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso-Renault||1’39.724|
|20||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso-Renault||1’40.471|
Having held Fernando Alonso off for seventh place in his final home race, Felipe Massa vanquished his former team mate again in his final qualifying session. Alonso was unable to improve on his tenth-fastest time with his final run and Massa, his Williams 15kph quicker through the speed trap, knocked the McLaren out with his final run.
This was the only major change after the last runs. Massa left team mate Stroll behind, and only one of the Renaults went through too. Carlos Sainz Jnr ended up half a second off team mate Nico Hulkenberg and reported a problem with his power unit out of the final corner.
Kevin Magnussen, the only Haas driver to reach Q2, also progressed no further.
Drivers eliminated in Q2
|12||Carlos Sainz Jnr||Renault||1’38.725|
First blood went to Bottas as Q3 began. A superb run through the final sector, more than a tenth of a second quicker than his team mate, accounted for almost all of the gap between them. The Ferraris were left well behind initially, Vettel six-tenths off despite being quickest of all in sector one.
As the drivers began their final runs Bottas found himself behind Esteban Ocon. The Force India driver was urged to keep the Mercedes driver but couldn’t, Bottas slipping past on the run to turn 11. Nonetheless his preparation lap had been disturbed and Bottas was unable to improve with his final run.
That opened the door for Hamilton who looked on course to beat his team mate after setting the fastest time through the first sector. But again he couldn’t match his team mate’s flow through the final corners and also failed to improve on his final time.
Vettel was too far back to make any difference. Told he had taken third place he told his team it was the best possible. However Ferrari won’t have row two to themselves, as riccolink knocked Raikkonen down to fifth with his final run.
Nico Hulkenberg beat the two Force Indias to the ‘best of the rest’ spot, with Felipe Massa in tenth place.
Top ten in Q3
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-TAG Heuer||1’36.959|
|6||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-TAG Heuer||1’37.328|
|8||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1’38.374|
|9||Esteban Ocon||Force India-Mercedes||1’38.397|