Lewis Hamilton has beaten Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas to take pole position in the closing moments of qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The three times world champion was four tenths of a second faster than Bottas but was over half a second faster than Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
It was a great lap from Hamilton, who looked evenly matched with Bottas but he managed to pull it out of the bag when it mattered. It however wasn’t a pure Hamilton v Bottas fight, as the Ferrari’s looked like they were not far off the pace.
Hamilton said “That was one of the most exciting laps that I’ve had all year. A lot of pressure. The first lap I had the time but I made a mistake. A lot of pressure because of getting temperature in the tyre but the lap just got better and better.
While his team-mate Bottas said he was disappointed. Saying “I was going for pole. The lap in the end wasn’t quite perfect, I was struggling with the temperature. Lewis did a great lap.”
However, the final moments of the session were interrupted after Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo crashing with three minutes remaining. Normally, that would mean drivers would have time to do another timed lap, but all drivers has struggled to get the tyres to work on a single warm up lap.
Max Verstappen will start fifth with Ricciardo’s incident meaning he starts tenth. Ricciardo appeared to clip the wall on the exit of Turn Six, causing a puncher and him to lose the rear sending him into the wall.
Early on in the session Verstappen had looked very strong on his pace, but was unable to match the Mercedes and Ferrari when the turned up there power units.
Verstappen would have hoped the improvement to the Renault power unit would have brought them closer, but he was just over one an three quarters of a second off the pace.
The Force India’s of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon out qualified both Williams in sixth and seventh. Lance Stroll go the better of Felipe Massa as the Canadian appears to be finding his feet, after points at his home race in Canada.
McLaren went into the session knowing that they would start last, but it was a bad performance as both Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne both dropped out in Q1. This weekend was always going to be tough for the team, as they don’t have the straight line speed.
Alonso told Sky Sports “Our speed is that slow that they think we are on a slow lap but no this is our speed, we are starting a timed lap so they get surprised a bit.”
Both Toro Rosso’s failed to make it into Q3, with Daniil Kvyat eleventh and Carlos Sainz twelfth. However, Sainz opening lap collision with Romain Grosjean in Montreal, sees him drop to fifteenth.
It was another great performance by Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein, getting his car into Q2 by .01 of a second over Magnussen