The drama started early today – Sebastian Vettel will start at the back of the grid after an engine problem. He reported that his Ferrari had completely lost drive, and seemed fairly sanguine on the surface. He must be incredibly frustrated, though, because that must surely hand the championship pretty much to Lewis Hamilton.
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It was the Mercedes who was quickest out there, with Red Bull's birthday boy Max Verstappen tucked in behind him.
Good work from Toro Rosso new boy Pierre Gasly, replacing Daniil Kvyat – he made it into the top ten, riding high in P8. Haas's Romain Grosjean had a horrible day yesterday, hitting a raised drain cover in practice and doing hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage to his car, and he was straight into the drop zone today.
OUT: Romain Grosjean (Haas), Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Pascal Wehrlein (Sauber), Marcus Ericsson (Sauber), Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari).


Amazingly quick work from Mercedes's Valtteri Bottas, reminding his team-mate that he can still be a threat. Fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen was up there too, trying to do his own colleague a favour by giving the Silver Arrows some problems.
The Force Indias woke themselves up too, with Sergio Perez in P6 and Esteban Ocon just behind him.
OUT: Felipe Massa (Williams), Jolyon Palmer (Renault), Lance Stroll (Williams), Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso), Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso).


Hamilton came out and set the pace, and although Raikkonen gave him a good run as the clock ticked down to zero, the Mercedes secured yet another pole position.
He was gracious to his championship rival, and then proceeded to wish Verstappen a happy 20th birthday, asking interviewer Johnny Herbert, "Does he look that much younger than me?"
"Sorry, but yes," came the response.
Verstappen was in a good mood too; he outqualified Red Bull colleague Daniel Ricciardo as the pair locked up the second row.
And let's pause and applaud both the McLarens, who have had a great weekend – so far Pascal Wehrlein Stoffel Vandoorne got himself P7 ahead of Fernando Alonso's P10.
TOP 10: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), Max Verstappen (Red Bull), Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull), Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), Esteban Ocon (Force India), Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren), Nico Hulkenberg (Renault), Sergio Perez (Force India), Fernando Alonso (McLaren).


After a pretty interesting season, this qualifying session and Vettel's ridiculously early exit was a real disappointment. Of course, it does leave us with the possibility that he might carve his way through the field tomorrow and put the pressure on Hamilton that way.


Max Verstappen will be doing everything he can to finish this race after his dreadful year so far. He'll be worth watching, whether that's for good or bad reasons.


Well, Vettel's failure is a bit of a shock - but that has been partially ameliorated with Raikkonen's excellent qualifying. He won this race nine years ago - can he do it again?


Hamilton - Raikkonen - Ricciardo
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