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22 Jul 2018
'Trumpets' qualifying report - German GP


Matt 'Trumpets' Ragsdale takes us, as only he can, through the trials and tribulations of the qualifying session for the German GP

Ambient 22° 
Track 30° 
Humidity 83% 
Wind 1.9 m/s

Prelude

Rain, Rain, come to stay, Hockenheim looks FUN today!!! That's right, FP3 was a total wash, and were it not for the inexplicable war between the Beeb and Sky, the only thing to discuss would've been how little was actually learned for qualifying. However, the late arrival of Lewis Hamilton to the garage, had several news outlets reporting that he was both ill, and might be replaced. Late in the session, however, he took to his car and ran 2 fairly slow laps right at the end, with no hint of his true pace, just to complicate things. In fact, it was a Sauber 1-2 with Leclerc leading Ericsson (yes, true, didn't think I'd be writing that today) that was the official classification of the FP3, but it was Jenny Gow, on the scene that disagreed with the official Mercedes statement that all was perfectly will with their ace driver. Something was off, according to her, but whatever it might be, the team was being incredibly tight-lipped and paddock speculation eventually settled on some sort of leg injury. Time will tell

Officially, qualifying comes with a 60% chance of rain, but the late forecast suggests that conditions will be drying throughout. Regardless, it's a huge contrast to yesterday's session and will force all the teams to do more than a bit of guessing with regards to cooling and set up, though notably with Mercedes slower than Ferrari on the straits, at least yesterday, it was possible they were running a higher DF configuration to compensate for the wetter weather that is supposed to dominate the weekend.

Ferrari corporate politics was also a hot topic in the paddock, with Sergio Marchionne missing a meeting of Fiat-Chrysler bigwigs due to his recovery from shoulder surgery, where he might be outed as Chairman or CEO or whatever it is that he actually does (technically he is both for Ferrari), according to Reuters. Having not been seen in public since June, it is thought that medical issues are forcing him to step down earlier than planned. Johann Elkann, one of the Agnelli brood, supposedly set to replace him as chairman at Ferrari with Louis Camilleri, current board member, stepping into the CEO role, but what that will do to current plans to bring Leclerc to Ferrari next year, and Ferrari in general, remains to be seen. Also unclear is whether or not Marchionne's role at FCA is under discussion at this meeting.

On race pace, not much to choose from between Mercedes and Ferrari looking at FP2, with HAAS the best of the rest, but since the track was nearly 50°C those times will not be representative for the rest of the weekend, unless the sun comes out and the track warms considerably. Happily, that will be good news for Red Bull, who put on a fairly strong showing yesterday, as unpredictability will decidedly play into their hands. Ricciardo is taking a slew of penalties for taking upgrades in advance of Hungary and will start at the back for this week's GP. Given the relative ease of overtaking at Hockenheim, and after looking at Hamilton's showstopper in Silverstone, it might very well be a better strategy to burn through an extra engine and take a penalty at a friendly track, rather than manage pace to make the 3 PU's last the full season, a strategy suggested last week by SomersF1 as potentially part of the performance advantage Ferrari was suddenly showing over Mercedes. Let me reiterate: PART of the advantage.

As the session approached, it was the clouds clearing and the temperatures rising, with it all to play for and a delightful frisson of uncertainty at the top....

Summary

Green Light!! Sirotkin out on the Ultras, then Stroll and Leclerc, officially a dry track despite the utter deluge earlier in the day. 16 minutes and Sirotkin was off (no, not THAT kind), bettered immediately through the first sector by his teammate, with Leclerc just off by a tenth. AS the Williams completed their flying laps, the rest of the field was rolling out of the pitlane, waiting for track conditions to improve. A mistake by Stroll in the middle sector ruined his first effort, and it was Leclerc to the top, early in the fight for the midfield, with a 1:15.203. And then, in rapid succession both the Force Indias and HAAS cars rocketed past, with Grosjean into the 13's and both HAAS outpointing the FI lads. Alonso took P4, then Sainz went P3 as Hulkenberg went to the top, a tenth up on RoGro.

Leclerc, on his second effort was back to the top, with 11 minutes left on the clock as Raikkonen was onto his first hot lap, the track evolving rapidly as fresh rubber was laid down on the rainwashed track. Ferrari and Mercedes both were out on the Ultras, with Q2 the place to look for alternate tyre strategies. Vettel at the top with 1:12.765 followed Raikkonen as Mercedes were out on their first effort. Bottas was nowhere near the pace of his teammate, and finished 0.3 seconds down on Lewis, who went P3 with a 1:13.012, leaving just Red Bull to toss their hat into the ring.

As they got down to business, both Vettel and Raikkonen were having another go, and both improved their times, without changing places. Ricciardo slotted into P7, not really concerned with going fast due to his grid penalties, and Verstappen went P5, yesterday's session toppers nought but a happy memory for the Milton Keynes outfit.

Vandoorne had reported gearshift issues but the big shocker was Sainz, lingering in P16 while his teammate was P6. After Sainz, it was Hartley, Stroll, Sirotkin and Vandoorne all on the outside looking in with 4 minutes left in the session. Raikkonen had gone even faster and managed to go to the top, with a 1:12.505 as those with it all to lose were on their outlaps and getting ready to have one more go at making Q2.

Leclerc to P6, and Sirotkin to P13, with Stroll struggling nearly a half second off his teammate's pace. Hulkenberg was still in the pits, with under 2 minutes left and it was Renault making the bet on saving tyres. Grosjean to P4, ahead of Hamilton now as Lewis continued to circle the track like a shark, waiting to make its move.

Perez, Stroll, Vandoorne, Sainz, and Hartley all in danger as the last seconds ticked off the clock, with Ocon on the bubble as the checquers fell. Hartley up to P16 as HAmilton reports his gears are not changing. Sainz next up, went P10 putting Ocon out. Ocon to P14 as neither Vandoorne nor Stroll improved.
BOOM!! Hamilton radioed in a loss of throttle and his race engineer told him to shut it down. Arguing desperately, he tried to keep it going but the team insisted. Into neutral he went, and out of the car to try and push it round, but the marshals took hold of it and his day was done!!! P14 would be the best he could do (thanks to the Ricciardo penalty) and a measurable dent in his championship hopes as a total loss of hydraulics did him in. With several offs over the kerbs, including a high speed one at T1, speculation was that that this had caused the damage to the hydraulic system that shut his bid down.

Vandoorne, Stroll, Hartley, Gasly and Ocon were also all done, off in search of some spaetzle, but it was the high drama at Mercedes that stole all attention as the rest turned it around for Q2.

Grosjean led the way into Q2, with HAAS and Leclerc all sporting the Ultras. Red Bull confirmed that Ricciardo would not be running and first Grosjean, then Magnussen seized the top of the leaderboard, with a 1:12.523. Bottas rocked up to a 1:12.152 and it was Verstappen with the alternate tyre, running the Soft. Alonso, too, liked the yellow banded tyre and it just remained for Ferrari to show its hand as the clock crossed the ten minute mark.
Ericsson then put it into the gravel T13, fortunately not beached, back onto the track and limping it back to the pits. Both the Ferraris then emerged onto the track with the Ultras affixed, as Max's time with the Softs was good for P7 only. A shot of the apex of T13 showed that Ericsson had dragged rather a lot of kitty litter onto the track, which Hulkenberg sliced neatly past (it was offline-ish) to go P6 as the red flag was thrown at 6:57. This rather spoiled Sainz' first lap, ruining Renault's strategy of setting their laps during the lull while the majority of the field were in the pits.

Sainz, Ericsson and Sirotkin were the drivers up against the wall (all with no time) with Raikkonen and Vettel behind Bottas after their first run, albeit with the gravel that wasn't present for Bottas' run. It rapidly emerged that the session had been stopped in order to clear Ericsson's mess from the track. This being Germany, it wasn't enough to send out some marshals with push brooms out, instead, a massive streetsweeper was dispatched which slowly cleaned the majority of the gravel from the track. Of course, as anyone who has ever witnessed one of these machines in operation will know, some of the gravel was spat out to either side, meaning that marshals with push brooms wound up on track anyway. An impressively inefficient operation indeed.

With the session re-opened, Kmag was making the argument that HAAS didn't need to run again and it would be be better to save tyres for 2 proper runs in Q3. The track had climbed to 40FC and off went Ericsson with 5 minutes left to go (no, not that kind). Red Bull chucked Verstappen out, on the Ultras this time, which given the fact he was in P9 seemed to be a reasonable precaution.

Wide at T12 for Ericsson, but still P10 and pushing Alonso out of the cool kids group. P2 for Verstappen, just off Bottas' time. Alsonso, Sirotkin and Sainz were still out and it was Sirotkin first to hit the line. Personal best in S1 for all 3 drivers, with Sirotkin the slowest of that gang. P10 for Sirotkin, then P11 for Alonso. Leclerc, running to protect his spot went P8 and his teammate, having been demoted could only manage a P13. Sainz, after having his first run stopped short, pulled off a respectable P9 to make Q3. It was a big gap from Hulkenberg to the HAAS, though, with nearly 0.4 seconds putting the American team, which had announced it's intention to skip the next test due to budget considerations, into a bubble all of its own.

Going no further were Alonso, Sirotkin, Ericsson, Hamilton and Ricciardo, natch, off in search of a Heffeweissen to quench their thirst. Sirotkin was just a tenth off Alonso's time, which is perhaps the first ray of sunshine for the team from Grove, as they brought a bucket of fixes, including a new front wing, for their woes, some of which were apparently working well enough. This is better news than it seems as it means their issues are not correlation ones, but rather, erm, design issues shall we say.

Raikkonen led the way onto the track for Q3, followed by Vettel. Bottas was not far behind as the top of the charts claimed early possession of the circuit. Verstappen trailed out about 20 seconds later and Sainz was the first of the midfielders to emerge, shadowed by both HAAS drivers, RoGro leading and Hulkenberg behind. Leclerc was out just as Raikkonen was on it and he manged to emerge between the 2 Ferrari drivers.

Purple for Vettel S1, Kimi purple S2 and then Vettel claimed S3 as his own, going P1 with a 1:11.539 as Raikkonen had made a mistake in T12, costing him several tenths. Bottas split the two, dropping Kimi to P3 and Verstappen a lonely P4 0.4 seconds off Raikkonen. Grosjean took honours from Magnussen on the penultimate run and the 0.3 seconds between them was the perfect size for Hulkenberg to park his Renault in. Sainz, on a pair of used Ultras, was P9, just behind Leclerc and Perez didn't bother, saving his fresh tyres for a sole run at the end of the session.

Last runs kicked off with Raikkonen and just under 3 minutes to go, but behind him was a tightly bunched pack: Perez, Grosjean, Magnussen, Bottas, Hulkenberg, Sainz, Leclerc and Vettel, dead last. Bad news for Bottas as the closeness of Magnussen was going to make getting his tyres properly prepared a tricky issue indeed. Raikkonen was well on his on his last lap as the jockeying behind him intensified. In fact, Kimi was busy purpling S3 as Vettel was just crushing S1. Raikkonen was up to P2 and behind him it was Bottas, eclipsing the Finn and gaining provisional pole with Vettel still on it. As Mercedes erupted with astonishment, Vettel had found another gear, taking S2 purple as well. AT the end of it, Mercedes would still own S3, but not by nearly enough to make up for the first 2 sectors and thus it was Vettel, cruising into pole position by 0.204 seconds, followed by Bottas and Raikkonen. Verstappen went P4, but with a much more respectable 1:11.547 this time, about three tenths back of Kimi.

HAAS maintained their best of the rest status, but when all the chips were on the table it was Kmag winning the teammate battle, with RoGro just barely eking out Hulkenberg. Sainz, Leclerc and Perez rounded out the top 10 and all indications going into the Grand Prix were that the race was on, with Ricciardo and Hamilton coming from far down the grid and Ferrari and Mercedes quick in entirely different parts of the track. Given Friday's high temps, Ultras were being run to an age of about 19-21 laps by most teams (Renault went a bit farther) and Vettel ran a set of Mediums VERY long indeed, so it will be interesting to see if teams go for the 1 or 2 stop. If you had to bet, 1 stop is what the teams prefer, and the pace differential at the top being what it is, generally the sharp end can afford to run slower strategies and still stay far, FAR ahead of the midfield. But with Hamilton and Ricciardo starting so far back, split strategies could be the story of the day. And oh my, if there is weather it will be glorious indeed...

Discuss!!

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19 Jul 2018
The rule changes that'll define a new position for the mirrors

In my latest video I take a look at the changes being proposed by the FIA in order to improve the drivers rearward field of vision. For the first time the regulations will prescribe an actual position for the reflective surface...


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16 Jul 2018
'Trumpets' qualifying and race report - day 2 - New York E-Prix

Having wrapped up the drivers championship during Saturday's action in New York, Jean-Eric Vergne turned his attention to helping his team capture the constructors championship. It would be a fraught battle though, as the fast-charging Audi's were now a real threat at a circuit that seemingly suited their machine.

Matt 'Trumpets' Ragsdale takes us through the action....

23C Track
23C Ambient
89% Humidity
2kph Wind

Group qualifying for the second race of the NYC ePrix was a highly uncertain affair, with the track drying but rain and weather in the area, teams were faced with making difficult set up choices using inadequate information. Group 4 looked to have the advantage in terms of track evolution, but only if the rain stayed away.

From group 1 it was Sarrazin that impressed, though his 1:19.017 was certain not to last through the drying track. But it was Ma Qing Hua, standing in for the injured Oliver Turvey who managed to hit the wall before the start of his 200kWh lap and pit his steering seriously out of kilter, crabbing the car all the way round the track with the steering wheel almost 90 degrees off level.

Group 2 was the championship group featuring all but Lotterer from the tilt for the Constructor's Championship. di Grassi went P1 from the group, followed by Buemi, who drove a very clean and cautious lap, then Abt, Vergne and Bird, who was significantly off the other 4 but still faster than anyone in Group 1.

By time the third group kicked off the track was significantly drier than when qualifying started but the radar was telling a different story than the forecast, with a large storm looming just off the shore over NJ and rain looking like it was heading back into the area. Both Dragons did well out of this group with d'Ambrosio going P7 only to be displaced by a hundredth by his teammate Lopez. The surprise of FP3 for rocking up in 3rd, D'Acosta, however barely made it out of the pitlane before his Andretti ground to a halt with gearbox issues. He had stopped early and complained to the team during practice and they had found nothing. His frustration with the situation is evident as clearly his car had the pace and he felt that they should have been able to head this off.

Evans in group 4 looked to be a good shout for the super pole group but at the start of his lap he tapped the wall out of turn 1 and lost too much time in S1 to get in. He did run a strong P6, followed by his teammate in P7 but it was Andre Lotter who did the business, taking his Techeetah into P3 and ditching Sam Bird and Virgin from the fast five.

SUPER POLE

Vergne was first off the line, and is run was mesmerizing, as he turned in for turn 5 he brushed the wall close enought to tear the hustings, lighting up the first 2 sectors but losing some time in the third, oversteering through the last turn and just missing the wall as he crossed the line with a 1:18.031.

Next up was Daniel Abt, who was slower than his teammate in group qualying and looked to be well off, losing time to Vergne throught the first 2 sectors after he picked up wheelspin on the other side of the hairpin turn 1 and failed to gather momentum for the early part of the lap. But he made up for it in Sector 3 and even though he couldn't topple Vergne from the top of the ladder, he still wound up just a tenth off pole and still in the running for a front row start.

Andre Lotterer followed, no stranger to the damp and he put his experience to good use, not quite as fast as his teammate through the first part of the lap, but close enough that his third sector put him over the top and into provisional pole.  With di Grassi yet to come, and 3 points in the Constructor's championship on the line, the tension was ratcheted up as Buemi took his turn.

As with his first lap, Sebastian drove clean, leaving nice margins to the barriers and, unlike Lotterer, very little sawing, just an occasional twitch when he got on the throttle a bit early. But, even with no purple sectors, his approach was clearly the way to go as he crossed the line with the fastest time of the day, 1:17.973, unseating Vergne, as all eyes turned to see what rabbit di Grassi could pull out of the hat.

Around the hairpin, out of turn 1 he came and into the braking zone for turn 2, just a bit hot, then he locked up over the painted lines, made a desperate attempt to drift his way through the corner but straight into the barriers he went. And so to the race with Buemi for Renault on pole, followed by Lotterer and Vergne for Techeetah with a 5 point lead over Audi, starting directly behind them with Abt and then di Grassi.

The scene was set then for the second race of the weekend....

29C Track
26C Ambient
78% Humidity
1kph Wind
Vergne leads the pack into turn 2 having had what seemed to be a jump start, especially as his team-mate Lotterer most definitely had and was later penalised for it.

At the start of the last race of the Generation 1 cars, one could be forgiven for not knowing that there was real money on the line, such was the focus on the drama of the Driver's Championship which was wrapped up yesterday by Jean-Eric Vergne and Techeetah. But there were indeed a number of cash paying positions up for grabs as the cars rolled off the dummy grid and into their start positions. Including Techeetah's, the customer team made good, sitting atop the pyramid but by a scant 5 points over manufacturer behemoth Audi.

Offset by Buemi on pole, as the lights went out it was immediately Vergne diving to the outside of Buemi, who shut the door hard. Such was Vergne's momentum he switched back over and up the inside into turn 6 taking first place. Behind, his teammate Lotterer had managed to keep himself intact and as they launched down the back straight, it was first blood to Techeetah, as Daniel Abt had dropped back to P6 through the melee of the dogleg complex which was the first obstacle the drivers faced after leaving the start.

Buemi locked up heading into turn 11 and avoiding him Lotterer got a love tap from di Grassi, but managed to stay ahead as they rocked it down to the turns 13 and 14. But worse lay ahead as already on the radio Lotterer was being dinged for jumping the start, flagrantly so once the replay hit the airwaves. By the third lap BOTH Techeetah cars were under investigation for that infraction and off to the races they went, doing their best to put as much time between them and the rest of the field as they could, before the stewards lowered the proverbial boom.

Lotterer took Buemi to the cleaners into turn 11 on the 5th lap, while di Grassi was letting the elastic stretch on the straights, then going deep on the brakes and making the time right back up. And then, just 2 laps later, everyone lost their collective minds. First, into turn 2 Jose Maria Lopez, who had already broken the suspension of his Dragon on the kerbs once this weekend, managed to do the same thing all over again, trying his best to limp it back to the pits, but giving up as the rear wheel slowly detached itself from what was left of the axle.

While that was happening, D'Acosta was trying to defend from Filippi as the hustled towards turn 11. A vicious move from the Andretti driver, who was already steaming thanks to a 10 second penalty for replacing his gearbox, took the nose off the Nio of Filippi and sent him hurtling across the track and into the completely unsuspecting D'Ambrosio, putting both Dragons out for the second straight race and ending any hope they had of surpassing NIO in the Constructor's.

To add to the drama the stewards had rendered their verdict on Lotterer and it was harsh indeed a 10 second stop and go as the full course yellow was called to remove all the stricken cars. The lengthy delay was more likely due to needing to sort our Vergne, who, just a single lap later was cleared of any wrongdoing. Still, it was enough to keep Techeetah from leveraging any impending Full Course Yellow and having Lotterer save some time serving his penalty. And it was costly indeed, demoting him to 15th place, behind Ma and nearly 30 seconds off the lead and 20 seconds back of the points when he served it on lap 11.

2 laps later and the strategic situation worsened for Techeetah as di Grassi snaked his way by Buemi into T11, the Audi so much later on the brakes than the Renault. With Lucas behind Vergne and the fast lap flag planted firmly in Audi's camp things were starting to look a bit desperate from Techeetah's end.

Then Audi pitted Abt on lap 23, one lap prior to the rest of the lead pack, despite him insisting that he was told during the race he was on the same strategy as the rest of the lead pack. The move worked from a strategic point of view as it did move him ahead of Buemi, but it put him in a energy deficit of about 4% to the rest of the leaders, which meant his back would be up against the wall at the end of the race, as Buemi would have extra energy to expend while he needed to lift, coast and conserve.

Mahindra's battle was turning in their favour as well, with Rosenqvist now in front of Evans for P5 and Heidfeld P7 while Prost was barely hanging on in the points for Renault, averaging down Buemi's P4 and keeping Mahindra ahead on track for the moment.

Buemi, not one to mess about, changed that back to P3 with a nice pass into turn 11, a popular spot today for passing. With Lotterer making the redemption drive of his life and closing in at nearly 2 seconds a lap the championship battle was very much live, although later Abt would insist he had no idea from the team that the spot he had yielded to Buemi was that important.

For the moment though, the other prong of the Audi strategy, which was for di Grassi to close on Vergne and be right on him into the pits had been derailed in the actual car exchange, in which there was a "mistake". Nevertheless, the Audi seemed to have some pace over the Techeetah and by lap 33 Lucas was within 1 second of Vergne, and being told that the championship looked good, began to pressure the Techeetah driver, to see if he could find a weak spot in his armour.

But JEV was resolute and so began an astonishing, 10 lap running battle that was riveting to watch, as the Audi tended to make up immense ground into the braking zone and corner entry, only to see the Techeetah continually with slightly better exits stretch it out just enough to keep the contest rolling another lap. Lotterer meanwhile was doing his best to atone for his mistake, but Techeetah would need some help from Buemi.

Unfortunately for them, a rare mistake and lockup from the Swiss driver allowed Abt back through and with possession of 3rd place and fast lap, there weren't enough laps left for Lotterer to close on Heidfeld for 8th. And even had he caught him, a tie would've been the best they would've done.

As the laps closed down, di Grassi got ever more aggressive, and on lapped traffic began to trouble the leading pair, first D'Acosta who had a drive through for causing the earlier collision, who pulled completely out of the way, but nonetheless wound up opening the door a bit for di Grassi.

By lap 37 the Audi driver was riding the rear wing of Vergne through every turn practically, and when JEV lifted and coasted into T14 the Audi literally shoved him through the apex. Buemi was moving closer and by lap 41 was within a second of Abt while JEV was putting up an increasingly stout defense when they came upon more lapped traffic which they caught most unfortunately at the turn 1 hairpin right at the start of the 42nd lap. This opened a gap for Vergne that Lucas seemed content to maintain and then all eyes were on Buemi, who was doing his utmost to maintain pressure on Abt. But there were no more mistakes to be made on the Audi side this day and as they crossed the line and caught the chequers, it was team Audi taking the Constructor's by just 2 points, 1 of them from Abt's fast lap. Or you could look to Buemi's pole depriving Techeetah of 3 points in the morning.
Audi celebrate winning the team championship

Regardless, it's all coulda woulda shoulda at this point as the Generation 2 chassis, a newer and more powerful RESS and a brand new set of rules is about to grace next year's Formula E championship. The only thing certain is that no-one is entirely sure who will be where, when they turn up in Valencia for testing and even the most well funded manufacturers are hedging their bets until the tyres hit the pavement.
The man of the hour Jean-Eric Vergne turned in another stunning and resolute performance to win the second race of the weekend.
And, as if Matt's brilliant run-down of the race isn't enough here's the highlights....



If you've enjoyed our coverage this weekend then be sure to tune in for Matt and Chris Steven's e-Radio show in the coming days - https://t.co/PMRM8gi3tB

We're also hoping to follow up the coverage we've offered this weekend for Season 5, so be sure to swing by and check it out and if you want to support our assault on multiple championships you can always suppport the site - www.Patreon.com/SomersF1
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15 Jul 2018
'Trumpets' FP3 report - New York E-Prix


Brooklyn was treated to a rather spectacular storm overnight, and the teams arrived to find the pitlane a bit flooded. On the bright side, the dust that plagued everyone at yesterday's race was now no longer a concern. Which was a good thing as they were using blowers to try and clear the surface as I left the track last night.

When the pits opened there was enough water on the surface of the track that the drivers were throwing up rooster tails and down the long straight, visibility was scarce for following cars. Early days it was Rosenqvist for Mahindra at the top, the first to crack into the 1:20's.

With 35 minutes to go, the track was getting full but the drizzle continued, a dry line of sorts appearing but plenty of data still for Michelin on the all weather tyres that are specced for Formula E, in what was essentially its first ever full wet session.

Making things more challenging is unlike the surface of a purpose built track, these circuits are truly streets and the fact that heavy trucks and buses regularly use them the rest of the year meant that there were plenty of bumps and hollows for water to puddle in. Despite this, times were continuing to drop until Sam Bird became the first victim of the wet. He coming around a corner and found a slower Venturi ahead of him and lost it under braking, slapping the wall and damaging his suspension before wrestling the car into a little run off area and giving the barrier the mildest of kisses.

Back to the pitlane for him and to the top went Audi with 28 minutes left in the session. At first it was di Grassi just ahead of Abt, but Daniel stayed out and took the honours away from his teammate, possibly a bit motivated after the contretemp yesterday, going 1:18.699 to be the fastest of all by time the session ended.

Standing by the exit of turn 2 it was clear that the Audi looked most planted of all, with Renault not too far off. Vergne's Techeetah looked fast, but also quite a handful and he finished the session P8, with his teammate just ahead. Presumably they will be looking for the weather to clear  before qualifying, otherwise their fight to maintain the Constructor's lead over Audi will be a difficult one indeed as they currently are hanging on by a margin of just 5 points. Early leader Rosenqvist also had a trip to the barriers later in the session that ended his running prematurely. Lopez joined the spin it to win it club between turns 8 and 9 but it was da Costa, who had a lurid slide about a third of the way through the session who suddenly and surprisingly showed up in P3 for Andretti.

Yesterday's pole sitter Buemi also was on top of the leaderboards for a while, before settling for P4, just ahead of di Grassi. As the session drew to a close, the rain picked up in intensity, and times began to drop. The weather is supposed to clear for qualifying but as to whether or not the track surface dries by then is anybodies guess.

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