The sky on Saturday afternoon had clouded over from the dazzling sunshine, and wind became a factor.
Turns 1 and 15 in particular saw many drivers go wide, including Hamilton, Button and Hulkenberg at the former, and Carlos Sainz at the latter, who was incidentally the first on-track in the session.
Everyone initially set out on the Medium tyre, which most driver struggled with in Free Practice 3. Everyone, except for Ferrari, whose drivers Raikkonen and Vettel opted for the softer rubber. Kimi set a time easily faster than anyone else, at which point everyone realised that they should probably put the options on too.
With both McLarens out, the pressure was off teams like Force India and the sole remaining Sauber of Nasr, but they fell at the next hurdle. Daniil Kvyat, who just barely got a lap in in time during Q1, could go no further.
The final session was a fight for the front row between the two Mercedes drivers, but behind it was anyone’s game. Hamilton set the initial pace with a staggering time of 1.26.419. It would turn out to be infallible, with Nico Rosberg not able to come up with a response. Valtteri Bottas nearly lost it at the final corner, and scraped 6th place, while his team mate took best of the rest in 3rd.
They sandwiched the Ferraris, but it was an incredible show by rookie Carlos Sainz to get up to 8th in his first Qualy session.
Here’s how the drivers will line up for tomorrow’s race:
The Top 10
1) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1.26
2) Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
3) Felipe Massa, Williams4) Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
5) Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
6) Valtteri Bottas, Williams
7) Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull
8) Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso
9) Romain Grosjean, Lotus
10) Pastor Maldonado, Lotus
Eliminated in Q2
Felipe Nasr, Sauber
Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso
Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull
Nico Hulkenberg, Force India
Sergio Perez, Force India
Eliminated in Q1
Marcus Ericsson, Sauber
Jenson Button, McLaren
Kevin Magnussen, McLaren
Will Stevens, Manor (No time)
Roberto Merhi, Manor (No time)
Manor will not start the race due to not qualifying.
The race begins at 5am UK time on Sunday, 15 March.