Azerbaijan GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report

Route 66

Lewis Hamilton, Azerbaijan GP 2017

Lewis Hamilton, Azerbaijan GP 2017 

 © RV Press

 

By Dan Knutson

Lewis Hamilton won his 66th career Formula 1 pole position by beating out Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in Azerbaijan qualifying. Hamilton now moves ahead of Ayrton Senna's 65 poles and is within just two of qualifying the record of 68 set by Michael Schumacher.

The lineup for the weekend was: Mercedes – Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas; Red Bull TAG Heuer – Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen; Ferrari – Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen; Force India Mercedes – Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon; Williams Mercedes – Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll; McLaren Honda – Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne; Renault – Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer; Toro Rosso Renault – Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz; Haas Ferrari – Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen; Sauber Ferrari – Marcus Ericsson and Antonio Giovinazzi.

QUALIFYING 1

Bottas was quickest in practice with a time of 1:42.742 set in FP3 on Pirelli's super soft tires. Verstappen's car had stopped on track with a hydraulic problem, but Red Bull had fixed the car. And Ferrari had had to change the power unit in Vettel's car. Palmer's car had caught fire in FP3 and could not be repaired in time for qualifying.

The ambient temperature at the start of qualifying was 79 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 117 degrees Fahrenheit (47 degrees Centigrade).

Q1 lasted 18 minutes, and everybody used Pirelli's super soft slicks for the session.

Raikkonen got on top soon with a lap in 1:43.419. Back up to speed, Verstappen clocked a 1:42.384. Hamilton beat that with a 1:42.384.

Five drivers would be eliminated, and after the first rounds, Wehrlein was 15th and on the bubble with Grosjean 16th and Magnussen 14th. But Bottas had yet to do a fast lap, and when he did he jumped up to fourth.

Hamilton improved to a 1:41.983.

Now Hulkenberg was 15th, Alonso 14th and Grosjean 16th. The drivers in the bubble area continued to shift positions.

When the session ended, the five drivers out were Alonso, Grosjean, Ericsson, Vandoorne and Palmer.

The 15 who went on to Q2 were: Hamilton, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Kvyat, Vettel, Bottas, Ocon, Perez, Massa, Sainz, Stroll, Hulkenberg, Magnussen and Wehrlein.

QUALIFYING 2

Once again all the drivers used the super softs, leaving the softs and medium Pirellis in the garages.

Q2 lasted 15 minutes, and all 15 drivers were immediately on track. Raikkonen posted a 1:42.114, but Hamilton with a 1:41.992 and Bottas with a 1:42.032 beat that time.

Ocon was 10th and on the bubble with Massa ninth and Sainz 11th with five minutes to go.

It was taking at least two laps to get the tires up to temperature, so the drivers had to time things just right. Hamilton got down to a 1:41.275.

Verstappen was second ahead of Bottas, Raikkonen and Ricciardo with a minute to go. Then Vettel jumped up to second.

Now Massa was in 10th. Sainz was 11th and could not improve.

The five drivers who were eliminated at the end of Q2 were: Kvyat, Sainz, Hulkenberg, Magnussen Hulkenberg and Wehrlein.

The fastest 10 drivers who moved on to Q3 were: Hamilton, Bottas, Vettel, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Stroll, Perez, Massa and Ocon.

QUALIFYING 3

Bottas got down to a 1:41.274. Hamilton made a mistake and got into second with a 1:41.428. Verstappen was third ahead of Raikkonen, Vettel and Ricciardo.

The drivers were staying out, but with just over three minutes to go the session was red flagged when Ricciardo tagged the wall at Turn 6.

That messed up a lot of drivers' fast laps, and it meant the drivers would not have a lot of time to get their tires back up to temp when the session was restarted.

The top 10 at the time were Bottas, Hamilton, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Ocon, Vettel, Ricciardo, Perez, Massa and Stroll.

So it all came down to the last three minutes and 33 seconds. Verstappen was the first one out. Vettel was the last out. There was time for just one or two flying laps.

Bottas improved to a 1:41.027 and Hamilton beat that with a 1:40.593 to earn his 66th career pole. Raikkonen moved up to third and Vettel wound up fourth as Verstappen was pushed down to fifth. Perez, Ocon, Stroll, Massa and Ricciardo rounded out the top 10.


Follow grandprixdotcom on Twitter