Well that was confusing. We were all looking forward to FP3, the session that would settle who goes direct to the second qualifying session, but it turns into a phoney war. Nothing really happened until the final few minutes, and even then Maverick Vinales was still fastest by over half a second. The only real shock came from Andrea Iannone who found over a second-and-a-half (really) to go second. We have a new favourite if you require someone to do a single lap for your life, a title previously held by Cal Crutchlow and Loris Capirossi.
Conditions were obviously worse in the FP3 than FP2 given the lap times, yet another indication of how this track can change characteristics not just from day to day but from session to session. Yesterday Jorge Lorenzo looked great on the Ducati, today he looked tentative and couldn’t stay in the top ten. He will suffer the indignity of having to go through the first qualifying session tomorrow. Valentino Rossi escaped that fate by the skin of his teeth, He was only thirteenth FP3 after a sensor problem compromised his final run and has to deal with the fact he was slowest Yamaha. One thing that didn’t change was that Johann Zarco and Jonas Folger, in fourth and eighth, were still deeply impressive – as they’ve been all weekend.
As I’m writing this, the heavens have opened and Doha is being bombarded by heavy rain complete with thunder and lightning. There was hail earlier today – that’s so rare the locals were taking pictures of it. So what was pretty much a grip-free track today won’t be any better tomorrow, but you can bet it will be different.
No-one in their right mind is making any predictions.