2017 Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Qualifying Results

The main talking point of this weekend has been the continuous lack of grip around the streets of Baku. Almost all the drivers had an off-track excursion, either in the practice sessions or in qualifying. To put it simply — all one has to do is get round the track as quickly as possible without crashing. Easier said than done.

The track temperatures were high — regularly hovering around 50 degrees Celsius — but the drivers were still struggling. High track temperatures usually equal high grip levels. The 2017 cars are supposed to be tough to drive, but when drivers are constantly out-braking themselves, something’s amiss. A setting sun, large amounts of shadows cooling the tarmac, as well as the tiny operating window of the Pirelli tires were all to blame.

Grip was hard to find around the twisty streets of Baku.

Nevertheless, Lewis Hamilton managed to keep his car on the track the most, as well as getting it through the streets quicker than anyone else. Initially it seemed as if as many as six drivers had a shot at pole. The practice sessions were disjointed to say the least and a clear picture had not yet been painted.

Daniel Ricciardo struck the barrier in Q3, prompting a sudden red flag. With only three and a half minutes remaining, the pressure was on as the drivers were eager to get a lap in before time expired.

It came down to a shoot out for pole between the two Mercedes pilots. Lewis Hamilton came out the victor has he out-qualified his team mate Valtteri Bottas by half a second — a huge margin in the world of Formula One. An even bigger and more significant margin was the gap between the Ferrari and Mercedes cars. Kimi Raikkonen beat Sebastian Vettel for third but was over a second behind Hamilton.

Hamilton is now firmly in second place on the all-time pole list.

Lewis Hamilton’s time of 1:40.593 is a new outright lap record for the Baku Circuit. With the quicker cars we have this year, new lap records have almost become the norm. It wasn’t clear in the practice sessions who was going to be fastest, but when qualifying began, Hamilton looked untouchable in all three stages. Much like he was last time out in Canada.

Both McLaren cars went out in Q1 for the first time this season. For all of the team’s struggles, it was surprisingly the first time Fernando Alonso has been knocked out of Q1 this season. However, due to going over the allowed amount of new parts, both McLaren cars have enormous grid penalties for tomorrow. They’ll start firmly at the back of the grid.

Lance Stroll got his Williams car into Q3 for only the second time this year. It was the first time he out-qualified his team mate Felipe Massa. The Canadian rookie is finally starting to show some of the form that we’ve been waiting for this season.

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