Vettel beats Mercedes to Baku pole position

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Azerbaijan, Baku Street Circuitaz

Sebastian Vettel was the fastest man in qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, and will hence start Sunday's race from pole position. Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas weren't far behind though and will start from second and third.

The first part of qualifying was a straightforward affair for the top drivers, with Raikkonen going fastest, ahead of Verstappen, Hamilton, Vettel, Ricciardo. Bottas was 7th fastest, with Ocon in the Force India sneaking in ahead of the Mercedes by setting the 6th best time early on.

All drivers in this part opted for longer runs on the ultra soft tyres, all completing 6 to 8 laps in total.

The most notable event was 2 minutes from the end when Gasly nearly hit his team mate at high speed. Hartley had suddenly slowed due to a puncture, but as he failed to properly go off the racing line, Gasly, on a hot lap, was surprised and only just managed to avoid a potentially violent accident. Gasly was furious, but calmed down by the team by explaining the puncture. Hartley later excused himself for staying in the middle of the track.

The end result was elimination of both, along with Vandoorne who got demoted by Stroll in the dying seconds. Ericsson was seriously outclassed by his team mate Leclerc while Grosjean failed to complete a flying lap as he encountered technical issues on his first lap in qualifying, leaving him dead last without a time.

In the second part, all 6 cars from Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull went out on track early, all on super softs. On this tyre, Mercedes seemed more on it, with Hamilton going fastest, 0.003s ahead of Bottas. Both ended up 2 tenths ahead of Verstappen and 4 tenths ahead of Vettel. Ricciardo was another additional 4 tenths down while Kimi Raikkonen completely missed out on setting a competitive laptime early on by locking both front wheels and going into the escape road, only to get back on track go return to the pits to get a new set of tyres.

Q3 was obviously once again about the ultra soft tyres. The first run there proved very successful for Sebastian Vettel as the German ended up more than 3 tenths ahead of Hamilton and Bottas. Verstappen was 4th. Ricciardo and Raikkonen were nearly a second down. Ricciardo was seen scrubbing the wall at one point while Raikkonen narrowly missed the wall while going wide on the exit of Turn 16.

Next up, both Mercedes improved, but didn't manage to actually gain positions. Raikkonen on the other hand set the fastest first and second sectors before overshooting it again in Turn 16, requiring a big correction to fight the rear stepping on. Clearly not the greatest of qualifying runs for the Finn, leaving him 6th on the grid while team mate Sebastian Vettel snatched pole position.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarQ1Q2Q3Laps
15Sebastian VettelFerrari1:42.7621:43.0151:41.49819
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:42.6931:42.6761:41.67721
377Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:43.3551:42.6791:41.83721
43Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:42.8571:43.4821:41.91120
533Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:42.6421:42.9011:41.99419
67Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:42.5381:42.5101:42.49020
731Esteban OconForce India Mercedes1:43.0211:42.9671:42.52320
811Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes1:43.9921:43.3661:42.54720
927Nico HulkenbergRenault1:43.7461:43.2321:43.06620
1055Carlos SainzRenault1:43.4261:43.4641:43.35120
1118Lance StrollWilliams Mercedes1:44.3591:43.585-16
1235Sergey SirotkinWilliams Mercedes1:44.2611:43.886-17
1314Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Renault1:44.0101:44.019-16
1416Charles LeclercSauber Ferrari1:43.7521:44.074-17
1520Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:43.6741:44.759-14
162Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Renault1:44.489--8
1710Pierre GaslyScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:44.496--9
189Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari1:45.541--10
NC28Brendon HartleyScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:57.354--5
RT8Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari---2