BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - APRIL 27: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari prepares to drive at the Azerbaijan Formula One Grand Prix at Baku City Circuit on April 27, 2018 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari once again took pole position in the Qualifying for Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes joins him on the front row, while his teammate Valtteri Bottas will start at P3. Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen rounded out the top five. Kimi Raikkonen, who was fastest in both Q1 and Q2, could only end up sixth when it mattered.

Sebastian Vettel Takes a Hat-trick of Poles

Scary moment for Toro Rosso in Q1

The first qualifying session at Baku started in slightly windy conditions with track temperatures at 26 degrees C and air temperatures at 22 degrees C. Most teams took the stickiest ultrasoft tyres in their first runs. Romain Grosjean mistimed his braking near the escape road once and then had gear-box problems, ending up exiting Q1 without setting a time.

This triggered the yellow flags for a while. Many cars, including that of Sergio Perez and Pierre Gasly, had to take the escape road at Turn 15. Gasly showed cat-like reflexes in avoiding a near-certain collision with his teammate Brendon Hartley who was going painfully slowly just before the turn due to a puncture.

This scary moment for Torro Rosso meant that both their cars were eliminated in Q1, along with those of Grosjean, Stoffel Vandoorne and Marcus Ericsson. Kimi Raikkonen topped the time-sheets with a lap time of 1:42.538. Both the Williams cars and the Sauber of Charles Leclerc scraped through to Q2, while the McLaren of Vandoorne had a miserable time.

Kimi Raikkonen tops again in Q2

Most teams started on super-soft tyres in the second qualifying session. Raikkonen had a massive lock-up on his first flying lap flat-spotting his tyres. He had to go back to the pits to reboot with ultra-softs. He came back blazing with the fastest lap of 1:42.510 which was enough to take him to the top of time-sheets again.

Williams team had their best qualifying session of the season with Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin taking P11 & P12. Fernando Alonso once again failed to take his McLaren into Q3. This is exposing a lot of chinks in McLaren’s armour prompting a shake-up in their technical team during the build-up to this weekend. Charles Leclerc and Kevin Magnussen were the other drivers eliminated during Q2. Daniel Ricciardo just managed to scrape through to Q3 by the skin of his teeth.

Championship leaders grab front-row in Q3

Both Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton had a tough outing on Friday during the free practice sessions. But both delivered when it mattered in Q3 with Vettel taking a third consecutive pole with a lap time of 1:41.498.

Kimi Raikkonen, who had the better of Vettel all along in qualifying, made a mistake on his first run. During his second run, Raikkonen was well on course for a deserving pole, going purple in Sectors 1 and 2, but again made an error at Turn 16. This made him end up a heart-breaking P6.

The Force Indias did well with their latest updates to claim P7 & P8 on the grid, while the Renaults rounded out the top-10.

Interesting race in prospect

With Vettel and Hamilton lined up side by side on the front row, the memories of their clash last year has been refreshed. Windy conditions at the street circuit will certainly trigger some mistakes from the drivers on race day. An incident-filled race with a high probability of Safety Car is in prospect for Sunday!

The complete time sheet of Qualifying at Baku:

POS NO DRIVER CAR Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
1 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:42.762 1:43.015 1:41.498 19
2 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:42.693 1:42.676 1:41.677 21
3 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:43.355 1:42.679 1:41.837 21
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:42.857 1:43.482 1:41.911 20
5 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:42.642 1:42.901 1:41.994 19
6 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:42.538 1:42.510 1:42.490 20
7 31 Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:43.021 1:42.967 1:42.523 20
8 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:43.992 1:43.366 1:42.547 20
9 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 1:43.746 1:43.232 1:43.066 20
10 55 Carlos Sainz RENAULT 1:43.426 1:43.464 1:43.351 20
11 18 Lance Stroll WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:44.359 1:43.585 16
12 35 Sergey Sirotkin WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:44.261 1:43.886 17
13 14 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN RENAULT 1:44.010 1:44.019 16
14 16 Charles Leclerc SAUBER FERRARI 1:43.752 1:44.074 17
15 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 1:43.674 1:44.759 14
16 2 Stoffel Vandoorne MCLAREN RENAULT 1:44.489 8
17 10 Pierre Gasly SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:44.496 9
18 9 Marcus Ericsson SAUBER FERRARI 1:45.541 10
NC 28 Brendon Hartley SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:57.354 5
NC 8 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI DNF 2

MAIN PHOTO:
Embed from Getty Images

LEAVE A REPLY

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.