Sebastian Vettel has beaten Lewis Hamilton to take pole by a tenth of a second for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The Ferrari driver looked stronger than his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who was on a good lap when a gust of wind blew him off course.
The German had looked slightly off the pace in practice on Friday, but came back stronger in both third practice and qualifying. Vettel set his best time on his first run in Q3, while Hamilton narrowed the gap to a tenth after being three tenths off on his first run.
Pole Lap – S. Vettel 01:41.498
Sebastian Vettel starts his pole lap by going to the outside of the track and breaks at the start of the outside kerb. Turns in and hits the apex of Turn One before running the car to the outside of the circuit. Stays on the outside going towards the second ninety degree Two where he does the same, getting close to the wall. Carries the speed all the way to three breaking 100m before the corner, taking it in the same way at four. Going across the track into five breaking first hits the apex running the car to the wall.
Runs nicely down to six and seven, were he breaks hitting the apex of the corner and runs great through the chance. Good run to seven hits the apex and runs the car to the wall carries speed until the 100m board. He breaks, nice control as he runs up the narrow section and gets a good exit.
Flat out through thirteen and fourteen before breaking into fifteen, where he runs to the outside. Breaks a 100m before sixteen now its flat through the section leading back to the start line. He carries and continues to builds the speed all the way until he crosses the line with a 1:42.762.
Raikkonen blaming himself
Kimi Raikkonen says he can only blame himself for the mistakes which cost him pole. The Finn looked on course to beat his teammate to pole until he made a small mistake at Turn Sixteen.
However, he is refusing to blame rapidly changing wind levels and directions, Raikkonen refused to make any excuses.
He said “I had no issues, even took it easier on the entry of the corner, because it had been tricky with the wind all day, so I don’t know. I just got sideways, I managed to get it back but from that point, I knew it was gone, because it’s all straights and flat out”
Mercedes changed “pretty much everything”
Lewis Hamilton says that Mercedes changed “pretty much everything” ahead of Qualifying. Mercedes were well off the mark in both of yesterdays practice sessions, however, appeared to be challenging for pole position and Hamilton was second with his teammate Valtteri Bottas third.
Hamilton told reporters “We were struggling yesterday, we came into today and the engineers did some really great work last night to understand where we were and how we could progress forward. Thank you to them for their hard work. Today was a much more reasonable car.”
Asked how many changes were made to the car, he replied “Pretty much everything on the car. We did a lot of changes.” The four times champion was surprised Red Bull’s challenge faded away, but he believes Mercedes can attack Vettel with two cars in the mix against the Ferrari.
His teammate Bottas added “We are there with both cars now, we’re starting very close. The race here can be very crazy so we are up for the fight. The end result today was a lot better than what we saw and what we thought it could be.”
Toro Rosso collision
Pierre Gasly says that his near miss with his teammate Brendon Hartley in qualifying. The Toro Rosso drivers were very close to a huge accident in Q1, after the New Zealander suffered a puncher in when Gasly hit him on his fast lap.
The Frenchman was forced to take avoiding action to avoid being in a potentially serious accident. It looked as if Hartley didn’t see his teammate coming out of fifteen and kept pushing, leaving him unable to respond. But he had to bail out, because Hartley “went the wrong way”.
Hartley said after the session “ It was really scary, the scariest moment of my career. I was doing around 320km/h and I saw he was almost stopped. So I tried to avoid him but I was sure I was going to crash. I could already see myself in the air. I don’t know how I avoided it, but it was pretty scary moment.”
The incident was costly for both drivers who were both knocked out in Q1, with Hartley accepted full responsibility.
Hulkenberg grid penalty
Nico Hulkenberg has been awarded a five-place grid penalty after sitting out the final quarter of Saturday’s practice session after reporting a problem at the rear.
Renault immediately decided to change the gearbox ahead of qualifying, which means the component has not lasted the six consecutive grands prix required by the regulations.
Hulkenberg, who has started the last six races from seventh, will have a five-place grid penalty. On Friday, the team were forced to change the plank meaning he missed out on FP2
The German starts last after struggling to get out of Q1.
Tomorrow’s race again looks to be a three horse race between Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull. Mercedes really need a win as they haven’t won this season. However, Baku threw up a crazy and unperdiciable race last year so anything can happen!
Looking at pace Ferrari and Mercedes looked to be consistent with there long run lap time on Friday, while Red Bull appeared more all over the place
- Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Qualifying result
- AZERBAIJAN GP – Vettel beats Hamilton to pole after Raikkonen messes up his fastest lap leaving him sixth
- Notebook – Azerbaijan Practice
- AZERBAIJAN GP – Ricciardo fastest by six hundreds of a second over Raikkonen
- AZERBAIJAN GP – Bottas fastest in first practice as Ferrari looks to be struggling and Verstappen crashes
- Data Profile – Azerbaijan Grand Prix
- Prixview – Azerbaijan Grand Prix