After having produced underwhelming performances all through the free practice sessions, Lewis Hamilton in what can only be referred to as the sandbag of the season, stormed through to grab pole with a 1:40:593 at the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix by half a second over team-mate Valtteri Bottas, with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in P3.
Photo : Glenn Dunbar – LAT Images
With Red Bull looking strong through free practice, it seemed like a 6 car race to grab pole coming into qualifying.
However, Mercedes and especially Lewis Hamilton comfortably topped Q1 and Q2, as the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel looked off the pace following a hydraulic leak in FP3 which meant he had to use his old power unit from Australia.
During the initial run in Q3, Bottas put his Merc on provisional pole with Hamilton a tenth off before Ricciardo binned his Red Bull in the barrier at Turn 6, bringing out the Red Flag with 3 minutes of qualifying to go.
When it went green again for one shot qualifying, Bottas improved his lap time by a tenth and a half, but Lewis Hamilton pulled out a monster lap out of nowhere to grab pole position, almost half a second clear of Bottas.
The Ferraris who at one point looked in danger to be caught by the Red Bulls salvaged the situation with Kimi starting P3 and Vettel behind him in P4.
Having threatened with his pace on Friday, Max Verstappen could only manage P5, whilst the Force Indias produced another incredibly consistent performance with Perez in P6 and Ocon a tenth off in P7.
Lance Stroll put on a good show out-qualifying Felipe Massa for the first time as they line up P8 and 9 respectively, with the rear of the top 10 brought up by Daniel Ricciardo who crashed in Q3.
The Toro Rosso boys Kvyat and Sainz could only manage P11 and 12 (Sainz has a 3 place penalty from Canada), and Kevin Magnussen qualified P13 in his Haas, with his team-mate Romain Grosjean unable to make it out of Q1 as he qualified P16.
Nico Hulkenberg could only manage P14 as he gave up on any improvements quite early on in Q2 with his team-mate Jolyon Palmer not even participating in qualifying after a high pressure fuel leak caused an engine fire in FP3.
The Saubers of Wehrlein and Ericsson qualified P15 and 17, with the McLaren boys Vandoorne and Alonso qualifying P18 and 19, however 75 (yes 75) grid slot penalties combined mean that the McLarens shall start the race at the back, and yet ahead of Palmer.
Photo : Formula 1
Feature image : Sutton Images
– Aditya Bhat.