Azerbaijan GP: Hamilton's Baku masterclass in Qualifying

Lewis Hamilton took a 66th pole in Azerbaijan, moving one clear of Ayrton Senna and now just two behind Michael Schumacher's record. Ferrari third and fourth, Kimi Raikkonen ahead of Sebastian Vettel. Max Verstappen fifth. Both McLaren's out in Q1 and Jolyon Palmer doesn't even take part.

Azerbaijan GP: Hamilton's Baku masterclass in Qualifying
Lewis Hamilton is now just two pole positions behind Michael Schumacher's all-time record of 68. (Image Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton was in imperious form in Qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, taking his 66th Formula 1 Pole Position and moving into outright second on the all-time pole list.

After struggling to find a balance throughout both Friday sessions, Saturday was better for the Mercedes driver, who built up his speed to eventually lap in 1:40.593s.

The sister Mercedes W08, of Valtteri Bottas, actually topped the third qualifying segment after the first runs, was left 0.434s slower, and had to settle for second.

Bottas was the only car to get within a second of Hamilton, as the Mercedes showed it is, without doubt, the fastest qualifying car.

Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel made it a Ferrari second row, with Max Verstappen’s Red Bull being accompanied by Sergio Perez in the Force India on the third row.

Esteban Ocon was just under a tenth of a second slower than team-mate Perez, in seventh with Wiliams rookie Lance Stroll continuing his strong weekend so far by out-qualifying Felipe Massa for the first time.

Daniel Ricciardo will start 10th, after he crashed at Turn 6 during the first runs in Q3.

Daniel Ricciardo clipped the wall at Turn 6, and damaged the left rear. (Image Credit: @F1 Twitter)
Daniel Ricciardo clipped the wall at Turn 6, and damaged the left rear. (Image Credit: @F1 Twitter)

Hamilton makes a statement

Bottas initially held the advantage in Q3, with Hamilton’s attempts to recover from a Turn 16 lock-up scuttled by Ricciardo planting his RB13 into the wall and the session being red-flagged.

Once it restarted, Hamilton showed why he was about to exceed Ayrton Senna’s tally of 65 poles, with a lap the great Brazilian would have been proud of.

 Despite having no answer to his team-mate Bottas’s front-row slot is Mercedes’ second front-row lockout of the season, after Bahrain.

The Ferrari duo were left all at sea, with Raikkonen improving in the last seconds to take third, and Vettel, after an unscheduled engine change, took fourth, just over a tenth slower than the Finn.

The rest of the top 10 was filled by Verstappen, Perez, Ocon, Stroll, Massa and the crashed Ricciardo.

Usual suspects out in Q2

With the main straight in Baku being 1.4 miles long, the Mercedes and Ferrari powered teams were expected to lock out the top 10, leaving teams such as Toro Rosso and Haas an uphill fight to proceed from Q2.

As it was, they couldn’t, with Danill Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr making a Toro Rosso sixth row, comfortably ahead of the Haas of Kevin Magnussen.

Renault had a bad day, with Nico Hukenberg dropping out, but at least he managed to take part in qualifying.

Pascal Wehrlein, once again managed to get the Sauber into Q2, and that was where his afternoon came to an end.

McLaren Misery

Fernando Alonso has a 40-place grid penalty, owing to Honda deciding to revert his engine specification back to an old one after he spent practice testing a new one.

Stoffel Vandoorne has a 30-place penalty for new MGU-H and Turbocharger elements, and a gearbox penalty also thrown in for good measure.

Between them, the McLaren duo have a combined penalty of 70 grid places - on a 20 car grid. (Image Credit: Dan Isistene/Getty Images)
Between them, the McLaren duo have a combined penalty of 70 grid places - on a 20 car grid. (Image Credit: Dan Isistene/Getty Images)

Both McLaren’s failed to make it out of Q1, with Alonso just missing out on a Q2 slot, while Vandoorne couldn’t even out-qualify the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson.

After another weekend complaining of brake issues in the Haas, Romain Grosjean will start 16th.

Jolyon Palmer’s weekend went from bad, after his tetchy BBC interview on Thursday, to worse lafter his second practice crash on Friday to full out disaster after he failed to take part in qualifying. His claims of “I can finish eighth” in Baku seem a long way away.

This was because his RS17 caught fire during third practice, and the team were unable to fix the wiring loom in time. He will need to appeal to the stewards for discretion to race, which will be granted.

2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix - The Grid

Position Driver Team
POLE  Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2nd  Valtteri Bottas Mercedes
3rd Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
4th Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
5th Max Verstappen Red Bull
6th Sergio Perez Force India 
7th Esteban Ocon Force India 
8th Lance Stroll Williams
9th Felipe Massa Williams
10th Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
11th Danill Kvyat  Toro Rosso
12th Carlos Sainz Jr Toro Rosso
13th Kevin Magnussen Haas
14th Nico Hulkenberg Renault
15th Pascal Wehrlein Sauber
16th Romain Grosjean Haas
17th Marcus Ericsson Sauber
18th

Stoffel Vandoorne 

30 Place Grid Penalty applied

McLaren
19th

Fernando Alonso

40 Place Grid Penalty applied

McLaren
20th

Jolyon Palmer 

No time set 

Renault

 

Formula 1