After passing FP3 by more than 0.7 seconds, Verstappen again led the way after the opening rounds of Q3, with a 0.386 second advantage over Hamilton.
The world champion found enough time on his final run to top Verstappen’s first flight effort in the final segment of qualifying, but the Dutchman had already put the P1 benchmark out of reach as he led the top four runners towards the line, as they raced at the back of the pack on their final laps.
Although Hamilton ultimately set the fastest time in the first section, the purple sections of Verstappen in the second thirds of the lap – after setting his personal best in the opening section – gave a time of 1m29.990.
Hamilton found himself 0.258s behind, but beat his teammate Mercedes Bottas for the first time of the weekend, as the Finn finished 0.386s behind Verstappen after dominating Q2.
Perez was followed by Carlos Sainz Jr, who paved the way for Ferrari qualifying for the second time in 2021, with Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) and Sainz’s teammate Charles Leclerc placing sixth and seventh – Gasly due to deliver his last race in Q3 after losing his first time for running too wide in Turn 6.
McLaren teammates Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo were separated by ninth-placed Fernando Alonso’s Alpine as the trio completed the top 10.
All of the top 10 riders will start the race on medium tires, having driven through the middle segment on harder compounds, which should be much better than the soft tires in race conditions on Sunday.
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12
Photo By: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
In Q2, Esteban Ocon set a personal best on his last lap in the intermediate segment, but was knocked out 0.121 seconds behind Ricciardo – who had switched to running soft on his last lap in Q2, which he gave up. when it was clear that he had passed. to ensure that he will start the race on the preferred medium starting strategy.
Sebastian Vettel’s last run in Q2 was almost slower than his personal best as he finished P12, ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Williams driver George Russell.
This latter pair raced against tire strategies for Q2 races, with Giovinazzi copying the rest by taking the midrange early in the segment, while Russell opting for the softs.
When they traded compounds for their final laps, Russell took 13th place as he raced in the midrange, but the soft-footed Giovinazzi returned to the lead at the checkered flag and fell to complete the middle segment, and the two pilots will be free to choose any compound start for the race.
Mick Schumacher reached Q2 for the first time in his F1 career, but only after finishing Q1 25 seconds earlier when he crashed at Turn 6, the long right turn that feeds into the left turn of the turn 7 and the straight line of the Mistral. at the start of the round.
The back of the Haas got halfway through the turn as he was about to complete his final round of Q1 and took off back at high speed, facing the runoff upside down before hitting the barriers towards the ‘back outside. This damaged the rear of his car and the left front was also knocked down as the car rolled over on impact.
This ended any late improvement and kept Schumacher in a place in Q2 which he was unable to take, finishing 15th in the provisional qualifying standings, with Nicholas Latifi leading the eliminated drivers in 16th position.
The Williams driver was knocked out just 0.002 seconds behind Russell, who had to set a much faster time late in Q1 before having to abandon the lap when the red flags came out.
Kimi Raikkonen and Nikita Mazepin were trapped in the 17th and 18th, while Lance Stroll finished 19th with no competition time.
Yuki Tsunoda’s damaged car AlphaTauri AT02 is loaded onto a truck
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
Stroll had lost time that would have allowed him to pass Q1 in the top 10 for running too far into Turn 6 earlier in the opening segment and forfeiting his lap.
He had enough time to complete two runs before the scheduled end of Q1, but after abandoning the first lap and preparing for a final run, he was caught by the late red flag and unable to establish a time less than two minutes because the session was not restarted.
The opening segment had already been disrupted by a red flag after just three minutes, when Yuki Tsunoda sped back into the tire barrier behind Turn 2.
The AlphaTauri driver had cut the sidewalks on the inside of Turn 1 as he began his first flying lap, which knocked his car off balance and quickly spun his rear as he stepped back off the track before reaching the second bend.
The AlphaTauri’s rear suspension and wing were already swaying wildly when the car rolled off the track back, before being damaged against the barriers, from which Tsunoda was unable to engage gear and pull away. .
He finally came off the board and will start last. Q1 was suspended for 10 minutes, after which the first qualifying times were finally set.