Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton scores pole number 66 in Baku
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News June 24, 2017 Updated: 1:05 PM
BAKU, Azerbaijan -- Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton took his 66th career pole position at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix putting him just two poles away from breaking a decade-old record.
Hamilton continues to rewrite the stat books after taking his 65th career pole at last week's Canadian Grand Prix, which tied him with his hero and F1 legend Ayrton Senna. Now he sits two poles away from tying another F1 legend, Michael Schumacher, for the number one spot on the all-time poles positions list.
“My pole lap in Montreal was pretty special, but I think this one here tops that. My first run in Q3 was actually really good, but I was a bit greedy into the last corner, locked up and cost myself time. After the red flag, there was a lot of pressure on that final lap. All weekend we’ve struggled to switch the car on over a single lap, but it was an all or nothing moment so I just gave it everything I had,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton cleaned up the mistake he made at Turn 16 on his first run and turned it up in the closing minutes to finish ahead of his teammate Valtteri Bottas with a time of 1:40.593 breaking the circuit’s previous record by over a second.
Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel took the second row with Raikkonen finishing third ahead of his teammate.
Vettel qualified fourth but ran into a hydraulics issue during the third and final practice session. This resulted in the team performing an engine change which may put Vettel at a disadvantage in tomorrow’s race.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished fifth, just 0.038s behind Vettel at the end of the session.
Force India’s Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon finished sixth and seventh as they continue to impress with their strong pace. Eighth and ninth went to the Williams pair of Lance Stroll and Felipe Massa while Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo finished tenth after losing his car and crashing into the barrier at Turn 6. After, the unharmed Ricciardo said
“It’s obviously frustrating when you crash but in Q3 you are trying to give everything and get that last little bit out of the car. I knew turn six was a corner where I could do better, I was trying to carry more speed but I lost the rear on the exit and hit the wall. The rear was coming round and I tried to drive out of it but it kept going. The wall kind of comes back round a bit so I hit it. It’s not the wall’s fault, obviously, I’m not blaming the wall!,” said a playful Ricciardo.
Toro Rosso drivers Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz finished outside the top ten in 11th and 12th with Sainz starting from 15th after he received his penalty for his collision in Canada. After Sainz’ penalty is applied, this will move Haas’ Kevin Magnussen up to 12th, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg to 13th, and Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein to 14th. Wehrlein holds high hopes for Sauber turning out a good result on Sunday after the news of team principal Monisha Kaltenborn’s departure earlier in the week.
“I am happy with making it into Q2. We have certainly made a step forward in terms of the performance of our car since yesterday. My fastest lap was good from our point of view, and we could not have expected to qualify for Q2 on this track. As always, I will try my best to achieve a satisfying result on Sunday,” said Wehrlein.
Sunday’s grid continues to move around as McLaren-Honda’s Fernando Alonso who qualified 16th will be knocked down after he receives a 40-place grid penalty for a number of power unit changes over the weekend. Magnussen’s Haas teammate Romain Grosjean will be moved to 16th after Alonso’s penalty along with Wehrlein’s Sauber teammate Marcus Ericsson, who will move up to 17th.
Alonso’s teammate, Stoffel Vandoorne, will also receive a grid penalty and will start from 18th ahead of Alonso in 19th. Hulkenberg’s teammate Jolyon Palmer will start tomorrow’s race from 20th after the team were unable to repair the damage sustained in the final practice session.
With its mix of old and new, the streets of Baku city will prove to be a challenge to master for the second time this year. With its long straights and tight turns and of course what has become the infamous turn 8 which is the narrowest section in F1.