Ferrari and Mercedes qualified on the soft tyre, so can attempt a one-stop race using the medium tyre, while Red Bull will probably have to go with two stops, with ultra/ultra/soft the most likely choice, according to Pirelli's own analysis. Teammate Vettel could not match him and was 0.1s down in P2, while Bottas and Hamilton were 0.4s back in P3 and P4 respectively. However, he might still be viewed as a favorite on Sunday despite missing pole position. "So I'm not anxious at all, I just know that I have to work hard, keep working harder, building on the rapport of my team". "The vehicle was really wonderful". "The auto was awesome and just kept getting better. I think now after the second session in the afternoon, we know what to do, where to work on and hopefully we get it in the right window tomorrow".
"To be honest I was expecting him to come earlier", Vettel said.
Hamilton was never a force to reckon with this time, however, qualifying only fourth and losing a place immediately at the start. "See what it brings".
Speaking after the session, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff reckoned that his team's struggles owed more to not getting its tyres into the right operating window than any major problem with its auto.
MercedesAMG' Valtteri Bottas lines up in 3rd.
"If you have a really good day, you wouldn't say, 'Why the f-- did we win the race?' But 'Why the fuck did we lose the race, ' we've asked ourselves many times. A long race ahead, like we saw last weekend it will be close, hopefully we can make up tomorrow what we lost today".
"Ferrari were just way too quick", said Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who was fifth fastest but a hefty 0.701 seconds off Vettel's pace.
"The gap to them is quite big".
Vettel had the quickest lap in qualifying, posting a time of 1 minute, 31.095 seconds, on the 5.451-kilometer course.
After years of qualifying inadequacies and under-performing on a Saturday, the Scuderia have finally made a auto that can beat the Mercs.
Nico Hulkenberg secured his sixth successive P7 spot, with Sergio Perez placing his vehicle between the two Renaults in P8.
Carlos Sainz was ninth for Renault with Sergey Sirotkin an encouraging 10th for former champions Williams, who are enduring their worst start to a season since 2013 and are the only one of the 10 teams yet to score a point. The upside for the eliminated Dane and Frenchman, however, is that both will be able to start on the advantageous soft tyre as opposed to the ultrasofts that their higher-placed teammates will be forced to use. The McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were in 13th and 14th, with Brendon Hartley's Toro Rosso in 15th.
"There was nothing in the lap we could have gained that much", he said.