NOTEBOOK – Azerbaijan Qualifying

Features Notebook

Lewis Hamilton will start Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix from pole position after going four tenths faster than Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas. Hamilton put in a great performance pulling it out the bag to take his sixty-seventh pole.

Pole Lap

Lewis Hamilton comes along the long straight, before breaking about 100m before Turn One. He crosses to the inside, hits the apex before running to the outside. Breaks into Turn Two runs close to the apex and again runs to the outside, before crossing to the centre of the track. Breaks 100m before Turn Three, and runs nicely through the corner. Crosses to the outside for four, takes it perfectly. Breaks 125m before five runs to the apex before dipping into six.

Breaks into seven hits the apex before running through to the outside. Turns into this tricky uphill section close to the wall, left right left exits at the top. Hits the corner of twelve sets him up nicely for thirteen, hitting the apex runs to the outside and flat through fourteen and fifteen.

Breaks and runs nicely through sixteen runs to the outside and breaks into seventeen. He runs to the outside along the kerb, good through eighteen and nineteen which he doesn’t back off for. Opening up the Mercedes, along the straight through twenty and across the line 01:40.593.

That was a great lap by Hamilton who we know delivers these laps and finds tenths here and there to get great poles. Niki Lauda told Sky Sports “The team really did a fantastic job to set the car up in the right way and Lewis with his lap here, I have never seen anything like it.”

“It was not plain sailing at all, but I tell you, a lot of thinking, digging back to the factory, forward and whatsoever, and in the end the improvements they did, the engineers and all the mechanics did to the car today is outstanding. And then what Lewis did today, nobody else I think can do that.”

Ricciardo Crashes

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo’s Q3 was brought to an early end after he crashed out in the closing few minutes of the session. He just hit the apex nicely but on exit, the rear of the car just got away from him and he hit the wall. But, there in my view wasn’t much he could do as there just isn’t enough space on street circuits for this mistake.

He said “ obviously frustrating when you crash but in Q3 you are trying to give everything and get that last little bit out of the car. I knew turn six was a corner where I could do better, I was trying to carry more speed but I lost the rear on the exit and hit the wall.”

“The rear was coming round and I tried to drive out of it but it kept going. The wall kind of comes back round a bit so I hit it. It’s not the wall’s fault, obviously, I’m not blaming the wall.”

Ferrari v Red Bull

The fight for best of the rest behind the Mercedes was between Ferrari and Red Bull. This looked as if it will be a close fight in the Grand Prix, the gap between Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen was a few tenths. This could be a fight between Verstappen and Vettel on track.

Vettel says that the timing of the red flag throw him off his rhythm so he couldn’t get the lap together in the closing moments of the session. He said “I think I had the rhythm at the end but just didn’t get everything right. We were not quick enough, but tomorrow I think we still have a good chance. The car has been fast during the races and that was the case yesterday too, on the long-runs.”

Force India v Williams

Force India’s Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon out qualified both Williams in sixth and seventh. Their form this season has been impressive as they are a team who regularly punch above their weight and Force India being best of the rest as they are fourth in the constructors.

Lance Stroll needs a mention thou as it was his best qualifying of the year being ahead of Felipe Massa. It’s thought the points he scored in Montreal has given him a boost of confidence.

Stroll said “It was a good day, and it has been a good weekend. I am comfortable and confident in the car. I like the circuit and today everything fell into place. I missed a bit in Q3, and I think there was some more that was possible there, as we were four tenths off compared to my lap in Q2.”

Most painful weekend

McLaren’s racing director Eric Boullier has said this weekend has been the most painful weekend he has experienced in Formula One. After new Honda power unit components were fitted to both cars, McLaren ended up with a combined grid penalty of 75 places across its two drivers.

This weekend was always expected to be tough for McLaren given the speed and performance deficit that there Honda power unit. Boullier said “I am racer, so I think this is the most painful weekend I have ever had.”

“This afternoon’s result was particularly disappointing – we always knew that we’d be towards the back due to the engine penalties both drivers have taken this weekend, but it’s never satisfying to be right at the back of the grid.”

Race Preview

Tomorrow’s race will be a fight between Mercedes and Ferrari. However, Hamilton looks to have the slight egde on track and we know Mercedes has the straight line speed, but Ferrari will not be far off either! Red Bull and Verstappen will try and come back through the top ten. But I feel really Hamilton will win!



Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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