Nico Rosberg eased to pole position in Baku by a whopping 0.757 seconds. It’s a huge gap that shows that Mercedes will go into the race with a huge advantage. Sergio Perez had an excellent session for Force India, and finished the session in 2nd. Unfortunately for Checo, his crash in Practice 3 resulted in a gearbox change that carries with it an automatic five-place grid penalty. So Perez will start 7th tomorrow, which is still an excellent position to be in.
— Formula 1 (@F1) June 18, 2016
Ricciardo and Vettel had matching lap times, both qualified with a 1.43.966, but Ricciardo will start from 2nd because of Checo’s grid penalty, and also because he set the lap time before Vettel did, so the leading Ferrari starts in 3rd. Kimi Raikkonen was fractionally slower than Vettel so will start from 4th place.
Further down the grid, Hamilton made errors in Q1 and Q2, the driver admitting after the session that he’d lost the flow that had seen him dominate all practice sessions. In Q3, Hamilton locked up again and this time it was fatal, clipping the wall and damaging the suspension on his front-left. It was unfortunate and unlucky for Lewis, who looked most likely to clinch pole.
He said, “I had a fantastic rhythm on Friday but zero today. It will be damage limitation from here. I was just not on it today.”
Other notable results of the session was a strong showing from Daniil Kvyat, who will start the race in 6th tomorrow after qualifying in 7th for Toro Rosso. Romain Grosjean had a strong showing for Haas in 11th, with a lap that would have been strong enough for 8th if he’d managed to squeeze into Q3. Button had a shocking session for McLaren, who’s early pace in practice has vanished, the Brit starts tomorrow race in 19th place.
The biggest surprise of the qualifying was the sheer pace of Force India, the only team within a second of the pace set by the Mercedes. They have an opportunity to score serious points tomorrow if they get their strategy right, as they seem to have enough raw pace to beat the Ferrari’s and the Red Bull’s. With lots of driver lock-ups littering the sessions so far, the race tomorrow is set to be an interesting one.