Sebastian Vettel claimed his third consecutive pole position today in Baku. He will start the race ahead of reigning champion, Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team mate, Valtteri Bottas.
The streets of Baku continued to provide us with plenty of drama for it’s third appearance on the F1 calendar. Championship leader, Sebastian Vettel threw his Ferrari on to pole for the third consecutive time this season. Both Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will line up behind him on the grid.
Q1: Romain Grosjean was only able to enjoy five minutes out on track before finding himself down the escape road, complaining of gear box issues. He told the team “the gear box is blocked, something is broken” which forced him to step out of the Haas without setting a fast lap time.
Minutes later and Sergio Perez followed suit, heading down the escape road after making an error on one of his first hot laps. A swift ballet spin saw him pointing the right way round again. However, he was insistent that he did not need new tires, despite his teams suggestion to enter the pits. He continued on to join his team mate into Q2.
After meeting on track last time out in China, the two Toro Rosso drivers found themselves tangled together again. “I had no idea he was coming up so fast behind me” Hartley commented to the media, after travelling slowly on track with technical issues. This resulted in Pierre Gasly clipping the back of his team mates car and flying down the escape road.
Hartley was left with a puncture and unable to set a fast lap, while Gasly was soon pushed down in the drop-out zone. The two drivers will start 18th and 16th respectively for tomorrow’s race.
After the chequered flag had fallen, Charles LeClerc put down a flying lap in the Sauber which rocketed him up to an impressive 11th and saw him through to Q2. Similarly, Stroll’s final flying lap pushed him up to 15th and also through to Q2. This meant that McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne will start the race from 16th, while Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson will start the race in 18th.
Q2: A quieter second qualifying saw much less drama than the previous track session.
Kimi Raikkonen locked up with 8 minutes left of the session and was sent down the escape road to avoid contact with the wall. This left him unable to set a competitive lap until the chequered flag had fallen. However, the experienced driver was able to rocket himself up to the top of the timing sheets for the end of the session.
Moments before, Nico Hulkenberg, who faces a five-place grid penalty after changing his gear box, was able to drag himself out of the drop-zone and into 6th after a final flying lap.
Despite not making it through to Q3, the two Williams drivers will start in 11th and 12th for tomorrows race, which is their best qualifying result of the season so far. Behind them is McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who has also not yet made it into Q3 yet this season.
The 14th and 15th places on the starting grid will be filled by Sauber’s Charles LeClerc and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen respectively.
Q3: The first flying laps of the session saw Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, then his teammate Hamilton, followed by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel each take turns sitting at the top of the timings sheets.
Last years Baku winner, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, brushed the wall at turn 15 during his initial hot lap. Despite setting the 5th quickest time, he was forced to head to the pits to change the tires after this contact.
A small error on the kerb by Kimi Raikkonen saw him sitting at the back of the front runners pack for the first half of the session, in 6th.
The car then returned to the track with a mere two minutes remaining, to lay down their final flying laps. However, very little changed as all front runners made errors on their final lap.
The two Mercedes driver’s took the chequered flag first but, despite enjoying an engine boost for this weekend, they were unable to improve on 2nd (Hamilton) and 3rd (Bottas). Raikkonen then lost the rear end of the car at the same corner as his previous error, meaning that he could not improve on 6th position either.
Despite locking up in the first sector, Vettel was able to maintain his pole position, thanks to the previously mentioned errors by other drivers.
Both Force India’s line up in 7th and 8th, displaying a remarkable improvement in pace from both their drivers. The top ten is rounded off with both Renaults however, Hulkenberg will start in 14th after his grid penalty, promoting Carlos Sainz up to 9th.
“I’m a bit upset with my final run,” Vettel commented, “because I thought I had a little bit more But we got pole so we cant complain.”
“We’re in the mix.” stated Hamilton once he stepped out of the car, “I’m going to try and give Seb a hard time tomorrow”
His teammate, Bottas, shared this sentiment, commenting that “We are there with both cars now. We are starting very close. You know the race here can be very crazy so we are up for the fight.”
Can Vettel win his third race of the season, or will Hamilton be able to snatch back momentum? Overtake Motorsport will have all the answer, so join us tomorrow for race day.
Image Credit: Formula 1
Feature Image Credit: Formula 1 twitter
Posted on 28th April, 2018 for Overtake Motorsport
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