The Ferraris were as quick on the straights as would be expected, although the strength through low-speed sections that helped them to victory in Singapore was not on show this time around.
Max Verstappen cannot be counted out in the fight for Saturday honours either. The Dutchman struggled through his soft-tyre qualifying run, actually losing time compared to the harder compounds in the early part of the lap.
Hamilton certainly has the form here. He took the very first pole here in 2009 and last year's was his fourth qualifying triumph in 10 outings, while Mercedes have been on pole each year in the V6 Hybrid era.
Given the circuit's tendency for processional racing, qualifying could be crucial, although Hamilton's race pace was favourable to his rivals, until Bottas and Grosjean's crash curtailed long-run efforts for some time.
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