Brendon Hartley admitted Qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was a ‘disaster’, with the New Zealander failing to set a time within 107% after being forced to abort some of his early quick laps due to yellow flags, but a brush against the wall almost had dramatic consequences for team-mate Pierre Gasly.
The two Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda drivers came perilously close to colliding heading towards turn fifteen as Hartley slowed down dramatically due to a puncture, caused when he clipped the wall, with Gasly taking evasive action as he came up at speed behind him.
Stewards have allowed Hartley to take the start on Sunday despite his failure to get within 107% of the best time in Q1, but the incident with Gasly was more pressing on his mind, and he offered his team-mate an apology for doing an ‘average’ job of getting out of the way.
“It was a disaster of a day,” said Hartley. “I hadn’t done a lap until the point of the incident because the previous ones were interrupted by yellow flags.
“This lap was coming along really well and I was happy with the car, but I clipped the inside of the wall very lightly. At the beginning I didn’t think there was any damage so I was still pushing, then I realised going through the fast left-hander that there was a puncture.
“I had to slow down immediately trying to avoid hitting the wall, but Pierre was coming very quickly behind and I completely misjudged it. When I looked in the mirrors I moved to the left and that’s the same way he wanted to go.
“I made a complete mess of it. I’m really disappointed and I owe him a big apology because that was really average.”