Vettel Takes Pole Position At The Azerbaijan Grand Prix
The fourth race of the 2018 grand prix season is taking place tomorrow, and the starting grid has been decided.
Vettel has taken pole position ahead of Hamilton and Bottas.
It was a tense qualifying following last weeks thrilling Chinese Grand Prix where Daniel Ricciardo won the race after qualifying down in sixth position.
It was another poor qualifying for a once-hyped Romain Grosjean who was barely on the track before suffering gearbox problems. He will start at the back of the pack.
In Q1, Hamilton, Verstappen and Raikkonen were in fine form putting in fast laps giving them the track confidence moving into Q2. There was also a surprise lap from Ocon who managed to out-speed almost everyone, to put in the second fastest lap in the first 10 minutes of Q1. Ocon made it through to Q3 and qualified in 7th position.
Just 16 minutes into the qualifying and there was a team collision. Gasly and Hartley, both Toro Rosso collided (for the second time this season) proving a very disappointing qualifying for the team. Gasly starts in 17th and Hartley in 19th.
The last minute of Q1 was intense, with Lance Stroll putting in a last-minute fast lap, pushing Vandoorne out of qualifying.
Gasly was furious with his teammate which was heard loud and clear over the radio. His anger was warranted. Whilst Hartley did have a puncture, as soon as this was realised, he should have moved away from the racing line and out of his teammates lap. Bad day all round for Toro Rosso.
Brendon Hartley, talking to Sky Sports, said: "I slowed down, unaware he was so close. I owe him a big apology and almost caused a big accident. It's my fault."
Pierre Gasly added: "It was pretty scary, I don't know what happened but he slowed massively. I was going 320kph maybe - I tried to avoid him but was sure I was going to crash. I don't really know how I avoided it."
In Q2, most drivers were on super soft tyres. Once you hit Q2, the tyres you record your fastest lap on, become the tyres you start the race with.
Bottas was very impressive in the first few minutes of Q2, putting in a very fast lap, but the same couldn’t be said for Raikkonen. He went flying off the track in sector one, landing him in the danger zone with just five minutes left of Q2.
There was a strong uneasy feeling with three minutes left of Q2. Almost all drivers hit the track to try and put in a saving grace lap. Everyone who was in the drop zone, put in personal bests in the first sector. Things changed dramatically in the last 30 seconds of Q2 with Raikkonen putting in the quickest lap of the qualifying and Ricciardo scraped through by the skin of his teeth.
Missing out on Q3; Stroll, Alonso, Sirotkin, Leclerc and Magnussen.
The first few minutes of Q3 were extremely intense. Hamilton lead the pack with a 1:41.840, but that was soon overtaken by Raikkonen, Verstappen, and Vettel.
With four minutes left of qualifying, Vettel was leading Hamilton, with Bottas sitting in third. Verstappen in fourth, and Ricciardo in fifth with Raikkonen just behind them in sixth.
Both Mercedes put in quite disappointing laps with just seconds of qualifying left, and couldn’t rival Vettel for pole position.
Raikkonen had the chance. He blew it. He lost a huge amount of time in turn 16 on his second and final run of Q3, but when it mattered, he executed another qualifying mistake.
As it currently stands, here are the grid positions for the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
#1: Sebastian Vettel - Ferrari - 1m41.498s
#2: Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - 1m41.677s
#3: Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes - 1m41.837s
#4: Daniel Ricciardo - Red Bull/Renault - 1m41.911s
#5: Max Verstappen - Red Bull/Renault - 1m41.994s
#6: Kimi Raikkonen - Ferrari - 1m42.490s
#7: Esteban Ocon - Force India/Mercedes - 1m42.523s
#8: Sergio Perez - Force India/Mercedes - 1m42.547s
#9: Nico Hulkenberg - Renault - 1m43.066s (will face a five-place penalty)
#10: Carlos Sainz - Renault - 1m43.351s
#11: Lance Stroll - Williams/Mercedes - 1m43.585s
#12: Sergey Sirotkin - Williams/Mercedes - 1m43.886s
#13: Fernando Alonso - McLaren/Renault - 1m44.019s
#14: Charles Leclerc - Sauber/Ferrari - 1m44.074s
#15: Kevin Magnussen - Haas/Ferrari - 1m44.759s
#16: Stoffel Vandoorne - McLaren/Renault - 1m44.489s
#17: Pierre Gasly - Toro Rosso/Honda - 1m44.946s
#18: Marcus Ericsson - Sauber/Ferrari - 1m45.541s
#19: Brendon Hartley - Toro Rosso/Honda - 1m57.354s
#20: Romain Grosjean - Haas/Ferrari - N/A
I will be watching on Sky Sports F1 from 1pm tomorrow.