The Mercedes’ drivers have been told not to be naughty or they’ll be punished. If they collide again and it’s one driver’s fault rather than a racing incident that driver may miss the subsequent race. We’ll see (if they collide) whether that actually happens as it’d be a pretty severe sanction, albeit better than implementing team orders.
In more driver news, Raikkonen has, slightly surprisingly, got another year with Ferrari. Shortly after that news broke, Force India indicated it would retain its rather good driver lineup.
Two or three stops (likely soft-soft-soft-medium if the latter) are expected. I think the third compound is supersoft.
In first practice Hamilton was a full three-hundredths of a second up on Rosberg. Hulkenberg was nearly a second down the road, with Vettel close behind. Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Perez, Sainz and Alonso round out the top 10.
In second practice Rosberg ran no laps at all. Uncertain what the issue was at this stage. Hamilton was four-tenths up on Ricciardo, with Verstappen two-tenths further back. Vettel and Raikkonen were a few tenths down the road, with Alonso, Bottas, Grosjean, Button and Massa following.
I did actually catch a bit of second practice, and the Red Bulls seemed competitive on long runs. May be worth keeping an eye on for the race. Shade surprised the team seems to be ahead of Ferrari, but there we are.
At this stage the McLaren seems surprisingly swift.
Third practice started on intermediate tyres (excepting Alonso and Bottas who opted for the full wets to save them the inters for qualifying). Took half an hour for the track to dry enough for times to become representative.
Marcus Ericsson had a substantial crash in third practice which brought out a red flag. Uncertain if it’ll be ready for qualifying. The red flag meant there wasn’t only five minutes of actual practice at the end. At the very end, Vettel radioed that he thinks the gearbox failed (again, he lost another earlier, I think, but suffered no penalty).
In P3, Hamilton again led Rosberg by just half a tenth. Ricciardo was half a second back, leading Verstappen by a tenth. Vettel was half a second down the road but gearbox woe may make it a tricky weekend for the German. Bottas, Alonso, Hulkenberg, Raikkonen and Sainz.
Weather forecast for qualifying is to be overcast, but probably dry. Rain’s possible, though.
I hadn’t been planning on betting on qualifying, but then saw something which seems value to me.
I’ve backed Alonso, with Betfair, at 2.04 to reach Q3. He’s been 6th, 7th and 10th in the practice sessions so far. I think more or less evens is a bit long, given that.