It had been suggested that Hamilton would therefore start fifth, but with HAAS driver Kevin Magnussen – who qualified P5 in the top-10 shootout – taking a five-place penalty for fitting a replacement gearbox, the Mercedes driver will start fourth due to the way the FIA applies grid penalties. It means that Hamilton will join his team-mate Valtteri Bottas behind front row starters Leclerc and Max Verstappen, with McLaren’s Lando Norris starting fifth.
The provisional grid released by the FIA includes Nico Hulkenberg’s penalty for taking a new V6 engine, George Russell’s penalty for impeding Daniil Kvyat and the back of the grid power unit penalties for Alexander Albon and Carlos Sainz.
The original provisional grid issued by the FIA earlier listed the two back of the grid starters as Sainz in 19th, and Albon in 20th. But they were subsequently swapped with a new document issued some 40 minutes later.
A new rule introduced for 2019 specifies that in such cases priority goes to the driver who sets the quicker qualifying time, whereas in the past it was the first driver to take to the track and use his new elements. This was done to encourage penalised drivers to run in qualifying, and stop a traffic jam at the end of the pitlane before a session starts.
Sainz did not set a meaningful time in Q2, allowing Albon to start ahead of him.