Nico Rosberg takes pole at European Grand Prix of Baku
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News June 18, 2016 Updated: 5:20 PM
Nico Rosberg takehis 25th career pole position and third of the 2016 season so far in qualifying for Sunday's European Grand Prix Baku. Photo: Mercedes AMG Petronas
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg claimed his 25th career pole position and the 1st for this weekends Grand Prix of Europe in Baku as Lewis Hamilton struggled in qualifying leaving him tenth on the grid for Sunday's race.
“The Jedi Knight” of F1 Hamilton was strongest of the two Mercedes drivers throughout the practice sessions, but in qualifying couldn’t get himself into a rhythm.
“I had fantastic rhythm yesterday and zero rhythm today,” he said. “I couldn’t tell you what the possibilities are for tomorrow. It’s damage limitation from here. The team made a change to something overnight but I was just not on it today.”
Hamilton will start from 10th place. The three time world champion has never had trouble recovering from a low starting position, and there are plenty of overtaking opportunities on the long straights as his teammate Nico Rosberg refused to count him out.
“Never forget Lewis,” he said. “He can always come back from 10th. A 1-2 is still possible. Lewis has shown from 10th he can come strong. He finished an easy second in Russia.”
“They’ve done a great job up to now, with the track especially. It was an exciting qualifying. It’s one of the easiest places to overtake so it should be an exciting race.”
Saturday Force India’s Sergio Pérez set the second fastest time. However, it was a frustrating day for the Mexican driver. Because of a gearbox replacement after his crash in FP3, Perez will be handed a five-place grid penalty and will start seventh.
Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel for Ferrari set finishing with the the exact same time, but because Ricciardo set the time first he will start ahead of Vettel. They will be followed by Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), Felipe Massa (Williams), and Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso).
Romain Grosjean missed out on 10th in Q3 but still makes his best qualifying result in six races finishing 11th for Haas. Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg had a communication mix up pertaining to whether he was able complete one final attempt. This left him in 12th ahead of Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso stating in 14th.
“Pretty good result at the end of the day. It was the best we could’ve hoped for. Being just outside the top-10 is actually quite good for our strategy and the tires tomorrow. I struggled with the grip and the braking in Q1. I was blocked a couple of times and I was a bit worried. The second run I needed a clean lap and we did that.
The car felt great in Q2 and I managed to get some good grip from the tires, which helped a lot. We still have to investigate our brakes a bit to make sure the car is performing better. Generally, it was a good performance from the team. All weekend long it’s been working well, so I’m happy with that,” said Grosjean.
The other Haas of Esteban Gutierrez will start 15th after a mistake on his flying lap at Turn 8. Sauber’s Felipe Nasr secured 16th while Rio Haryanto finished his best result of his F1 career coming in 17th for Manor ahead of teammate Pascal Wehrlein.
Jenson Button had a bit of an “unlucky ” day finishing 19th for McLaren-Honda after not making it out of Q1. He said: “We were a bit unlucky. I made a mistake at Turn 15 and locked it up and went off. I did a doughnut and that’s not good for tires.
“We should have put on new tires. It is what it is. There’s only one place to overtake and that’s the main straight – we found it difficult on our long runs yesterday, but we’ll try our best to overtake.”
Marcus Ericsson will start tomorrow’s race in 20th after a brush with the wall coming out of Turn 7. However, he finished ahead of the Renaults of Magnussen and Palmer, who have struggled a bit since their return as a full constructor at the start of the year.