Hamilton’s loss was the gain of Williams drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, whose Mercedes AMG-powered cars helped them secure second and third spots on the grid, respectively. Both drivers stayed towards the top of the field throughout qualifying.
There weren’t many other issues today. McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen managed to secure fourth on the grid, edging out fifth spot winner Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing. The Aussie’s teammate Sebastian Vettel will start at sixth on the grid tomorrow and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso will be at seventh. Rounding out the top ten spots is Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat in eighth, and then Force India drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez in ninth and tenth, respectively.
Tire supplier Pirelli went for the very aggressive choice of running Soft and Supersoft compounds for the weekend, and they will face a stern test tomorrow, on the assumption the forecast is correct and we have another very hot race day. Today saw a peak temperature of 91 degrees F (33 degrees C) and temperatures at the track surface were as high as 131 degrees F (55 degrees C). The current forecast for Sunday is a peak temperature of 81 degrees F (27 degrees C) and some rain is also expected, although only after the race is finished.
Going into the race, Nico Rosberg remains on top of the 2014 Drivers’ Championship table with 165 points, with Lewis Hamilton just four points behind. Daniel Ricciardo is a distant third with 98 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes AMG leads with 326 points versus the 168 of Red Bull Racing and 106 of Ferrari.