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Hamilton leads another Mercedes front-row F1 lockout as Ferrari falters in Azerbaijan qualifying

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Hamilton leads another Mercedes front-row F1 lockout as Ferrari falters in Azerbaijan qualifying
Jun 24, 2017, 3:44 PM

Lewis Hamilton took his fifth pole of 2017 and his 66th of all-time as the 2015 champion swept away the rest of the field for Mercedes' second one-...

Lewis Hamilton took his fifth pole of 2017 and his 66th of all-time as the 2015 champion swept away the rest of the field for Mercedes' second one-two of the Formula 1 season. It was quite surprising given his difficulties on Friday in practice and also that his Mercedes was 1.1 seconds faster that the Ferrari. The field spread was large; Massa's Williams in eighth was 2.2 seconds slower than pole.

Both Ferraris managed to get on the second row, with Raikkonen outqualifying Vettel for the second time in three races, while Max Verstappen had a gear sync issue and couldn't carry his practice form to the final qualifying shoot-out and Daniel Ricciardo crashed out in Q3 to bring out the red-flags.

"It was do or die," said Hamilton post-qualifying. "If ever there was a time for me to perfect, that was the time.

"In qualifying, sometimes you can't extract it, but it was a perfect lap."

Q1

Last year's pole position time of 1m42.758s, set by Nico Rosberg, was instantly beaten by his former team-mate Hamilton, who led Q1 having clocked in at 1m41.983s on his second flying effort.

Verstappen filed in as runner-up, albeit 0.561s off Hamilton's time. Team-mate Ricciardo finished fourth fastest, while Ferrari Finn Raikkonen split the pair of Red Bulls.

Hamilton's counterpart Valtteri Bottas struggled, and finished more than one second down in seventh, behind championship leader Sebastian Vettel.

The two Force Indias were narrowly behind in eighth and ninth while Felipe Massa, tenth fastest, was just 0.003s slower than Sergio Perez.

Eliminated were both McLarens, Sauber's Marcus Ericsson and Haas' Romain Grosjean – the Frenchman livid with his brake performance.

Jolyon Palmer did not take part in qualifying as an engine fire at the beginning of FP3 ruled him out of any further Saturday running.

Alonso will start at the rear on Sunday having introduced an upgraded MGU-H and turbo for Friday's practice sessions. His gearbox failed in Friday's FP2 but the MCL32 was running in qualifying.

“Qualifying was not very important today because of the penalties. Definitely I think we were not competitive anyway. The whole weekend we weren't in the top-10 in any session,” said Alonso.

The penalties, added onto those handed to McLaren for changing engine parts after the Canadian GP, mean Alonso has been pushed back 40-places while team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne has been given a 30-place grid penalty.

Q2

Hamilton stormed to the summit of Q2, crossing the line at 1m41.275s, 0.227s quicker than Bottas, who was showing some signs of closing in to the Briton.

Title-rival Vettel was third, 0.636s off the top spot with Verstappen splitting the two Ferraris by finishing fourth fastest.

Lance Stroll beat Massa (ninth) with a continued show of confidence from his home race, having booked a place in the third session finishing seventh fastest in Q2, clocking in at 1m42.284s.

Stroll was just 0.069s behind Daniel Ricciardo and ahead of both Force Indias, of which Perez finished eight fastest and Esteban Ocon tenth, scraping into Q3 at 1m42.735s.

Both Toro Rossos were out of the running for pole position as Kvyat finished 11th fastest for the fourth time in the last six qualifying sessions.

Carlos Sainz Jr was behind in 12th, though a three-place grid penalty from Canada drops him down, while Dane Kevin Magnussen and Renault's Nico Hulkenberg will start 13th and 14th, respectively. With Sauber using the 2016-spec Ferrari engine, Pascal Wehrlein was slowest in Q2, 3.328s away from Hamilton's time.

Q3

Hamilton took pole in a final qualifying session which was red-flagged with three and a half minutes remaining, with only Bottas within a second of Hamilton's pole-lap.

Ricciardo slid through the exit of Turn 6 and slapped the outside barriers with the left side of his car, relegating him to tenth on the grid for the race as his left-rear tyre slumped unceremoniously off its tethers.

The clock was paused with Bottas provisionally on pole but just enough time for the field to produce another qualifying time; the session restarted after a seven minute clean-up.

Another sensational qualifying performance was produced by Hamilton on his final run, with a time of 1m40.593s enough to put him 0.434s ahead of Bottas.

His efforts to overcome the 12-point gap behind Vettel in the drivers' championship will be further boosted as Raikkonen starts third, and Vettel fourth on Sunday.

"The lap, in the end, wasn't perfect. I was struggling with the front-left temperature.

“Disappointing, but second place is not bad,” said Bottas.

Raikkonen's time of 1m41.693s was enough to keep Vettel 0.148s away, but neither Ferrari could get within a second of the leading Mercedes, nor could anybody else apart from Bottas.

"It's been difficult with the tyres to switch them on, it's been a struggle every time,” said Raikkonen.

“Luckily the last set had a slightly better feeling on the warm-up side. If you switch them on, you can go a lot faster."

Verstappen's early qualifying form and hopes of a coup were dashed by the leading two teams and a mistake in Sector 2. He will start fifth as his time of 1m.41.879s was enough only to beat Force India and Williams.

Stroll's momentum wasn't interrupted by the red flag and the 18-year-old managed to out-qualify his team-mate for the first time this season, by 0.045s. Both Williams will start eighth and ninth, behind the Force India duo led by Perez, who starts sixth.

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Grid, Azerbaijan GP:

POSITION

DRIVER

CAR

TIME

GAP

1

Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes

1m40.593s

-

2

Valtteri Bottas

Mercedes

1m41.027s

0.434s

3

Kimi Raikkonen

Ferrari

1m41.693s

1.100s

4

Sebastian Vettel

Ferrari

1m41.841s

1.248s

5

Max Verstappen

Red Bull

1m41.879s

1.286s

6

Sergio Perez

Force India

1m42.111s

1.518s

7

Esteban Ocon

Force India

1m42.186s

1.593s

8

Lance Stroll

Williams

1m42.753s

2.160s

9

Felipe Massa

Williams

1m42.798s

2.205s

10

Daniel Ricciardo

Red Bull

1m43.414s

2.821s

11

Daniil Kvyat

Toro Rosso

1m43.186s

-

12

Kevin Magnussen

Haas

1m43.796s

-

13

Nico Hulkenberg

Renault

1m44.267s

-

14

Pascal Wehrlein

Sauber

1m44.603s

-

15

Carlos Sainz

Toro Rosso

1m43.347s

-

16

Romain Grosjean

Haas

1m44.468s

-

17

Marcus Ericsson

Sauber

1m44.795s

-

18

Fernando Alonso

McLaren

1m44.334s

-

19

Stoffel Vandoorne

McLaren

1m45.030s

-

20

Jolyon Palmer

Renault

-

-

 
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