Lewis Hamilton achieved his 66th pole position of his career today at the Baku Street Circuit, making up for the disastrous qualifying session he endured last year where he crashed into the wall in Q3.
Daniel Ricciardo’s puncture and stop on track brought a red flag out three minutes before the end of Q3, meaning that it was all to play for as drivers scrambled to get flying laps in. Hamilton only managed one once the session restarted, but his time of 1.40.593s was enough to see him safely onto pole position. Lining up alongside him will be Valterri Bottas, in what is the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team’s second 1-2 of the season so far.
The second row of the grid has a familiar red hue, with Kimi Raikkonen out-qualifying team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who looks to have been struggling to find the pace needed to challenge title rival Hamilton all weekend. Max Verstappen only managed fifth fastest, despite having displayed strong performances in FP1 and FP2.
The sixth and seventh fastest spots fell to the two Sahara Force India Formula 1 team drivers, Sergio Perez ahead of Esteban Ocon, adding to their run of strong performances this season.
In yet another impressive performance, Lance Stroll managed to get his Williams Martini Racing car into eighth position, ahead of his Formula 1 veteran team-mate Felipe Massa. Ricciardo only managed tenth fastest after his contact with the wall prevented him from improving his time at the end of the session when conditions were at their best.
Just outside of the top ten and out in Q2 was Daniil Kvyat in the Scuderia Toro Rosso, managing to just gain the upper hand on his team-mate, Carlos Sainz who finished twelfth fastest, although his penalty from the collision in Montreal will drop him down the order. Kevin Magnussen was thirteenth behind the two young drivers, who’s performances have looked stronger than his Haas F1 Team team-mate Romain Grosjean’s all weekend.
Nico Hulkenberg appeared to end his session early after he was seen getting out of the car a few minutes before the chequered flag due to a mechanical issue on his Renault Sport Formula 1 Team machine, with his time of 1.44.267 being good only enough fourteenth place. Pascal Wehrlein once more out-qualified his team-mate, but will only line up in fifteenth tomorrow but made it through to Q2 for the Sauber F1 Team.
Out in Q1 were both McLaren-Honda Formula 1 Team drivers, Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, although both drivers have accumulated 75-place grid penalties between them this weekend, and so grid position becomes less important for them. Also out was Grosjean, who struggled in Friday practice with brake issues, as well as Marcus Ericsson in the second Sauber, who was eighteenth fastest. Jolyon Palmer in the Renault didn’t even have the chance to take part in qualifying due to an issue from FP3, and thus will most likely start from the pit lane in tomorrow’s race.
Baku is a track where the slightest error can result in the ending of a race. Can Hamilton fend off Bottas and the Ferraris, and can Verstappen make another strong start to mix up the order like he did in Montreal?
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