Max Verstappen set the pace today with the home driver toping both Free Practice Three and Qualifying as he enters tomorrow hunting Vettel’s record of nine consecutive Grand Prix victories.
In qualifying, Piastri and Sainz got very close as the Ferrari left the pitlane and squeezed the Aussie onto the outside curb at the entry to turn two.
This led to Sainz receiving a reprimand and Ferrari a €5,000 fine, but crucially no penalty as Oscar Piastri was not on a flying lap, so the stewards viewed the incident as creating a ” potentially dangerous” situation.
In the final couple of moments of Q1, Charles Leclerc was in trouble as the Ferrari driver sat in 19th position as he rounded the circuit on his final flying lap. The Monegasque jumped up to 14th when he crossed the finish line, avoiding elimination, but it was still a less-than-convincing result for Ferrari and Leclerc.
Alex Albon finished top of the times in Qualifying One with a 1m:20.939s on the Intermediate tyres, which was +0.026s quicker than Max Verstappen in P2, and +0.292s faster than Oscar Piastri.
In these wet conditions, saw drivers only eliminated from the session by the smallest of margins as Zhou Guanyu was only +0.031s from Q2, as he lost a chunk of time drifting the car out of turn 13, and Esteban Ocon was only +0.074s away from advancing to the next session himself.
Haas driver Kevin Magnussen’s bad day continued after Free Practise Three, as he headed out of Qualifying in 18th position by +0.156s, with Valtteri Bottas making it a double Alfa Romeo elimination as he starts 19th tomorrow.
Liam Lawson on his debut will start tomorrow’s race from the back of the grid as he still adjusts to driving his new Alpha Tauri car in very tricky conditions, with the New Zealander +1.304s from progressing.
The rain seemed to have passed so the circuit was rapidly improving throughout Qualifying Two, which made setting a fast lap at the end of the session vital.
On Lewis Hamilton’s final flying lap, he only moved up to eighth from 11th position as he was impeded by Yuki Tsunoda. The Alpha Tauri driver was sat on the racing line entering the final corner, as Hamilton dipped down the inside to avoid Tsunoda.
The result of this was Hamilton’s elimination from the session as the Brit finished 13th and +0.084s from making it to Qualifying Three.
Tsunoda was penalised by the stewards for impeding Hamilton, with the punishment being a three-place grid penalty dropping the Japanese driver to 17th after he was eliminated in 14th.
Both Ferrari drivers were playing it risky again with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in the bottom five with all the drivers on their final flying laps of the session. This time it was Sainz who was close to elimination as he ended the session in ninth, as Leclerc jumped to fourth.
Logan Sargent put in a truly great performance in this session as he made Qualifying three for the first time this season as the American finished in tenth.
Fastest was Max Verstappen with a time of 1m:18.856s in a different version of Qualifying Ones top three as Oscar Piastri finished second +0.536s off, with Alex Albon in third +0.543s from Verstappen.
Stroll yet again missed out on the final session as he finished the session in 11th just +0.054s from progressing. Pierre Gasly was also out in 12th with both Alpines not making it to Q3.
disappointingly for Haas bottom of this session and +0.183s from going further in Qualifying was Nico Hulkenberg with the Haas cars normally stronger in these wet conditions.
The final session had a couple of red flags the first of which was for Logan Sargent who skidded off the road at turn two.
The Williams driver was marginally off the dry line when turning into the corner which caused a snap of oversteer which sent the Williams FW45 rapidly spinning across the gravel and frontwards into the outside techno wall.
When the session got underway again the drivers were able to get in some representative laps with Fernando Alonso looking to have had the pace to go fastest until the second red flag came out for Charles Leclerc.
The Ferrari driver seemed to be off line entering the corner which left him with no grip on the exit as he understeered in a straight line into the outside barrier.
At this moment it left Lando Norris, Oscar Piastri, and Max Verstappen as favourites for Pole. Norris had set a time of 1m:12.049s for the others to chase with Piastri and Verstappen were +0.199s and +0.340s off respectively.
When the session got going again the track was massively drier with Verstappen -0.764s up on Norris in the first sector, but moments later Norris reclaimed his purple sector as he was -0.801s up.
The Dutch home hero was untouchable for the rest of the lap though as he went Pole with a 1m:10.567s on soft tyres, with Norris only able to get within +0.537s in second position.
George Russell- had a bounce back in performance after struggling in the last few races with third as Alex Albon had a super session which sees him round out the second row in fourth.
It is an all-Spanish third row with Fernando Alonso in fifth and Carlos Sainz sixth, Fernando is someone to watch tomorrow as he showed brief periods of good pace throughout the final session.
It’s probably a feeling of disappointment in the fourth row as Sergio Perez and Oscar Piastri start seventh and eighth, as both drivers probably wished they had a better finish to the session.
Then rounding out the top ten were the two retirements of Charles Leclerc in ninth, who will change his gearbox and chassis for tomorrow, alongside Logan Sargent in tenth.
Earlier in the final practice session, it was very wet resulting in some drivers struggling in the very tricky conditions.
Kevin Magnussen left the pitlane on a new set of Intermediate tyres, which seemed to be the wrong call as his car did a full 180 leaving turn three smashing his front left tyre against the outside wall, bringing out the first red flag.
The cause of the second yellow was Zhou Guanyu who looped the car coming out of the second to last corner, as the Alpha Romeo got beached in the gravel trap.
Heading into Qualifying Max Verstappen led FP3 with a time of 1m:21.631s, only +0.379s faster than George Russell in P2. Just over a second behind them were Sergio Perez in third and Fernando Alonso in fourth with them both +1.000s and +1.003s from Verstappen respectively.
Lewis Hamilton rounded out the top five with a +1.092s margin to Verstappen.