Nico Rosberg took pole position for the European GP at Baku with a lap of 1m42.758s in his Mercedes while his teammate Lewis Hamilton made two major mistakes, including breaking his right-front suspension when he clipped a barrier and will start 10th.
Sergio Perez was 2nd in the much improved Force India with Mercedes power with a lap of 1m43.515s but will serve a 5-grid penalty.
Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel had identical times of 1m43.966s and will start 2nd and 3rd while Kimi Raikkonen was 5th but will move up to 4th at the start.
On a weekend that has seen Hamilton dominate in free practice for Mercedes, he blew it in the qualifying session by missing turns in Q2 and Q3 before ending his session entirely when he clipped the inside wall at Turn 10 in Q3.
|Note the new Aldo Costa rear wing on the Mercedes that has given the team a 1+ second advantage in Baku
Nico Rosberg (1st, 1:42.758): "That was a very exciting Qualifying session today. In Q3, Lewis went down the escape road in front of me on his first run, so I had to back down and abort that lap. I therefore only had one quick lap at the end – but I got it all together and felt pretty confident that it was enough to get pole after I heard that Lewis was out. It's a great feeling to start from P1 as I have the best chance for tomorrow. It's a very demanding track here and you are not allowed to make a single mistake, so it will be a long race with a lot of things going on. It's definitely a good track for overtaking and there will be Safety Car moments for sure as we have seen in GP2, so I must be prepared for that. I expect a fast comeback from Lewis even though he's starting P10, as we have seen recently that he's finished P2 even coming from the back. It's going to be an exciting race to watch. I'm looking forward to it."
Lewis Hamilton (10th, 2:01.954): "It's a fine line between being on it and not being on it – and I just wasn't on it today. I had a fantastic rhythm yesterday but none whatsoever today. There's no specific answer or excuse. I wasn't hitting the right apexes or the right braking zones… it was just one of those sessions. Sometimes it happens. It was my fault, so I'll apologize to the team and try to make up for it tomorrow. It's always difficult to come back from this kind of position so it'll be damage limitation tomorrow. I highly doubt I can challenge for the win – but I'll give it my best shot and try to bring home as many points as I can. The car is good here and we've got more pace than most of the others. I've just got to make my way through any tangles at the first corner and see where I go from there."
Paddy Lowe, Executive Technical Director: "Quite a messy session, overall. We got through Q1 in reasonable shape but from Q2 onwards it wasn't quite as straightforward. Lewis encountered yellow flags on his first Q2 run, then locked up and ran deep at Turn Eight on his second. This left him with plenty to do on tires which were in far from optimal condition for his final attempt but he made it through. In Q3 we opted to put both drivers on a single, four lap run, theoretically giving them two attempts at a flying lap. Nico did a great job to take pole with a strong effort – but an uncharacteristically messy session for Lewis unfortunately ended in contact with the wall. The car is clearly very quick here, so we're disappointed not to have locked out the front row. But the potential to have both drivers on the podium is still there. We've seen from the GP2 race earlier today that overtaking along the start / finish straight can be an interesting prospect, so it's all still to play for on both sides. However, we also saw five cars go out at the first corner in that race, so negotiating that obstacle will be the first priority. It should be an exciting race."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: "Really mixed feelings after a session like that. A great, clean pole for Nico – but it just wasn't Lewis' day today and he'll start from P10. We saw yesterday and this morning that the car has a good pace advantage here, so we were aiming for the front row with both of them. But this is a tricky kind of street circuit where it's not easy to get a lap together, as we saw from the number of yellow flags throughout the day. It's always a very marginal thing to go to the edge but not cross over. Nico did a really strong job through all three sessions, setting fastest times in each of them. But Lewis struggled to find his rhythm and it ended with his right front touching the wall in Turn 11 on his final lap, which broke the suspension. Nico starts the race from the best position possible and all is not lost for Lewis. There's lots of opportunity out there if you survive the first lap and this should be one of the easier circuits for making up ground thanks to the long straight. I think we have a pretty exciting race in store tomorrow – and we'll be racing to get both boys to the podium."
|Sebastian Vettel has to hope the Mercedes have troubles in order to win
Sebastian Vettel (4th, 1:43.966): "Yesterday we weren't very strong. However, we came back today, although not yet where we want to be. We also benefitted from the penalty of Perez. Now we have to focus on a good start. I think tomorrow anything can happen for anyone. It will be a long race with a lot of laps. If I started fourth tomorrow I would be more angry. So, I think it is fine this way and that we started on the clean side. I think it's likely to make quite a big difference on a new track. Maybe I am wrong, but usually we have good starts. I've had a good feeling already this weekend, so we'll see. It's going to be a long race. We have to stay focused all through the race, it will be tough. I think it is possible to overtake, there is a very long straight. We will see tomorrow how much easy or difficult it will be, but in general I think it is possible. I am always nervous before any race, which is good because it means that I care. It has been a very tough weekend trying to find the rhythm. I believe it is easy to make mistakes. This track is surprisingly bumpy and it is not easy to find the right time and to manage hard brakings and high speed. We are happy but not entirely because the gap with Mercedes is very big, but it will be a long race with plenty of opportunities, I guess. After the weekend we will try to understand where we were losing time, but for the moment let's focus on the race, because we have all the chances to do a good job."
Kimi Raikkonen (5th, 1:44.269): "It hasn't been an easy weekend, but today in qualifying we managed to make the car nicely balanced, the feeling was good and obviously it was a lot faster than earlier this weekend. I felt I could drive it as I wanted and it was a good feeling. In my last run in Q3 I had fitted a new set of Supersoft tires, but then the red flag came out and I was not able to improve my lap time. After that, with only 2 minutes in the session, everybody tried to rush out and do a last lap, but there was traffic in the out lap and the timing was very tight. I'm sure that if we could have run smoothly it could have been better, but if you look at how tricky the weekend was so far, we can happily take this result. Obviously we are not here to finish fifth and today I felt there was more to come from the car. In many ways it will be a long and tricky race for everybody, we just need to do our best, make the right choices and see what will happen."
Felipe Massa (6th, 1:44.483): "I'm happy with the result in qualifying. It was much better than I was expecting because I had been struggling with the car all weekend. In qualifying, I was able to improve the way I was driving and improve the car at the same time. We were a little bit lucky at the end of Q3 because I managed to set a time before the red flag, but this is part of the game. I'm still not one hundred per cent happy with the balance and I made a little mistake in the last corner, so it could have been maybe two tenths quicker. I hope we can have a good race tomorrow but it will be very tough, this track could be one of the most difficult to finish. We've seen only half the GP2 grid finish their race, so we need to be very clever with everything that could happen tomorrow."
Valtteri Bottas (8th, 1:45.246): "I think we were unlucky today. Missing FP3 definitely made qualifying more difficult. It's hard to say how much it affected us, but I don't think our pace was too bad. I didn't put a perfect lap together in Q1 or Q2, so I think to get through how we did shows that we had good pace. Q3 was tough because I was heavily affected by traffic on both of my runs and I think there was definitely about half a second to be found in the car. For tomorrow, we have a good race pace so I'm sure we can have a good day."
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering: "When you look at how good we were yesterday in similar conditions, this is a little disappointing. Valtteri missing FP3 had an impact on his qualifying potential, having missed 25% of the practice time. FP3 is when we get the cars set up for qualifying, so it was a disappointing that he was still having to learn in those sessions. Then his laps were affected by traffic and yellow flags, as were Felipe's as well, so it was very difficult. I'm sure Valtteri could have been in the high 1:43s, that's about where he's been all weekend, and he should have had the legs to get in front of Red Bull. Qualifying was not ideal but we had good pace in the long runs on Friday, so we just need to convert that tomorrow in a race where we should be able to make a good deal of forward progress with both cars."
Red Bull-Tag Heuer
Daniel Ricciardo (3rd, 1:43.966): "It's my third front row of the season so that's really nice, I owe a big thanks to the team for getting me to the start of that queue (in the pit lane), that was a crucial part of it and allowed me to get a clean lap. My first lap in Q3 I went wide and made a few mistakes so we needed that last run and I'm glad I was able to execute a good one. We learnt a lot from yesterday and were able to connect the dots overnight which led to a strong day. The race tomorrow is going to be really interesting, I would be very surprised if it's a dull and boring race. If anyone hasn't watched the GP2 race from this morning I suggest they do. Judging by it you need to survive, be smart and pick your opportunities to be fast using the slipstream well. I think it could potentially be race of the season so it's going to be fun. On average we have been having better starts than Mercedes, so if I get a good start it won't be too tactical, just aim to get good track position and then figure it out from there. I have been handed second place on the grid by Perez's penalty so we'll take what we get and see how we go tomorrow."
Max Verstappen (9th, 1:45.570): "I think today we could have been P3; when the red flag came out I was already five-tenths up on my lap from Q2 so a 1:43.9 was in sight, easily. It's just unfortunate I got ruined by Bottas in Q2, and then after the red flag in Q3 with two minutes to go, he did exactly the same thing, so again, very unfortunate, but the pace is there. I don't need to have a chat (with Bottas), I'll just focus on tomorrow. We know from GP2 there will be a lot of action and overtaking, so it will be a very interesting race for sure. It will be interesting to have Lewis behind me, he'll be very quick. There are a lot of opportunities on this track – there are a lot of straights, but even in the turns you can overtake, so I'm very happy with the performance we showed today. It was all coming together and we have a good shot tomorrow. You have to find a compromise with setup, our rear wing is small so we lose a bit of down force where we are usually very strong but still we are up there, so I think the car is performing well."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "After three really exciting, action-packed qualifying sessions, to line up on the front row of the grid with Daniel Ricciardo is more than we could have ever expected at this circuit. The red flag caused by Lewis Hamilton left only 2m: 05s to go so it was a race to get to the line to start your final timed lap and Daniel absolutely nailed it. We managed to get him out first for an excellent qualifying lap to qualify third which obviously becomes second with Sergio's penalty. Max endured a much more frustrating Q3, having twice encountered Valtteri Bottas at turn one who inexplicably decided to overtake him up the inside compromising both of their laps, on the first and second run, and unfortunately that has left him ninth on the grid but at this circuit it looks like overtaking is possible and it's sure to be an action-filled grand prix tomorrow."
Sergio Perez (2nd, 1:43.515): "That was a special qualifying session. In Q3 I did one of my best laps in Formula One – maximizing every corner and kissing the walls. As a team it's been a very strong performance. At the same time I'm still angry with myself because of what happened at the end of final practice and the grid penalty for the gearbox change. I should be starting from the front row of the grid, but I now have to drop back to seventh. Tonight I need to try and clear my mind, put that frustration behind me, and focus on moving forward in the race. I need to say a big 'thank you' to my team for the amazing job they did to fix my car in time for qualifying. I hope I can give them a special result to celebrate tomorrow. It's not going to be an easy race because the track is so challenging and it's easy to make mistakes, but at the same time this can open up opportunities to make up ground. I still have a good feeling about the race."
Nico Hulkenberg (12th, 1:44.824): "A very disappointing qualifying session for me. The car has been quick this weekend, but starting from P12 means we've got a big job on our hands tomorrow. The main problem in Q2 was spinning on my first run because I was on a mega lap that would have easily put me through to Q3. I just lost the rear at turn 16 and spun. Because I had not set a time yet, it meant I was under pressure and it all came down to the final few minutes. Unfortunately I had some traffic on my second run and I just didn't feel the same grip with the car – and that's how quickly things can slip away from you. It's very frustrating and annoying because the car has good potential and we should have been much higher up. So it's a bitter feeling, to be honest, but I'm determined to make up the lost ground tomorrow."
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal: "It's definitely a case of mixed feelings today. We've shown great pace in all practice sessions and we should have realistically aimed to have two cars on the front two rows, but for various reasons we will be starting in P7 and P12. Sergio's performance in qualifying was spectacular. He delivered strong laps when it mattered; didn't put a wheel wrong and finished the session up front. Unfortunately, the penalty we will suffer for the gearbox change shuffles him back to seventh, but I have no doubt he will make up positions during the race. It was very disappointing to lose Nico in Q2. He made a mistake on his first attempt, spinning when he was on a very good lap, and sadly he wasn't able to make it into the top ten with the final run. It's a big missed opportunity for us today, but Nico has been quick all weekend and can make up ground tomorrow. The important thing will be to keep out of trouble in the first few corners and make the right calls to make sure we finish where we should."
Kevin Magnussen (21st, 1:46.348): "The session was pretty straightforward with the simple factor that we're not fast enough here. In FP3 we realized we didn't have the relative pace with the car even if it was feeling quite good to drive so we tried something different with the set-up. Ultimately, it was good to try and it improved the car in some areas but didn't in others. We knew this season would be tough at some moments, and this is certainly one of them! We have a plan for the future and that's what we're all working for. Yes, today didn't look great but we're learning all the time and this is bringing rewards."
Jolyon Palmer (22nd, 1:46.394): "The potential is there for a huge amount more but it wasn't to be today. I had a really, really good second run but it had to be aborted due to yellow flags. Unfortunately I made a mistake on my final timed lap which lost me about half a second, and I had no tow over the start/finish line which is worth another few tenths. We could have been a lot quicker. It's a tough track; it's really fun to drive and I've enjoyed it so far. We have it all to do tomorrow so let's see what happens."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "We need to keep our noses clean and keep pushing. Not great. We came here not knowing what to expect from this fabulous new track and unfortunately we've learnt that its characteristics are very far from what we need to extract the best performance from our car. In FP3 we identified a couple of different set-ups which both offered positives over a lap so we tried different ones on each car. Unfortunately, although the set-ups differed the result in lap time was essentially the same. You never throw in the towel in motorsport and we'll be seeking every possible opportunity. We saw in today's GP2 Series race that there is potential for a race of attrition so we need to ensure we're in it at the end. If we have clean races with both of our cars pushing for every lap there's still potential for a pleasant result."
Daniil Kvyat (7th, 1:44.717): "It was a good day, I'm quite happy! We managed to get some clean laps, something which isn't easy to do here in Baku and a trouble-free qualifying session is definitely what I needed. It was tricky out there as the track was changing all the time and you had to go in line with the evolution, but we managed it well and did a good job. We will now try and do the same tomorrow – there will definitely be plenty of opportunities and we will have to be very alive and make sure we take them. I have to say I enjoyed today's Quali quite a lot. I've been feeling more and more confident with the car and to start tomorrow's race from P7 is a positive result."
Carlos Sainz (13th, 1:45.000): "A bit of a disappointing day for me – it's a shame, because we had a decent Friday and I was feeling good. We had new brakes on the car today and unfortunately I wasn't feeling as confident as yesterday under braking. Maybe this could be a reason why in qualifying I just didn't manage to extract the most out of the car… and if you also add the fact that there was a lot of traffic, in the end it wasn't possible to get into Q3. Let's see what we are capable of doing tomorrow, hopefully we can do another good comeback – it can be a very crazy race here, so I'm convinced that with a clever strategy and quick pit-stops we can manage it! All in all, we need to stay optimistic because tomorrow can certainly be a better day."
Jody Egginton, Head of Vehicle Performance: "We made a number of changes to the cars overnight to address some of the balance issues from Friday. The drivers have made good use of the car today, to progress through what was a tricky qualifying in terms of traffic and yellow flags. We elected to go for a longer first run with both drivers in Q1 to provide a good 'heads up' ahead of a shorter run. Carlos and Daniil made good use of the second tire set to progress to Q2. The first run for both drivers in Q2 were traffic effected, with some competitors running a build-lap before their push-lap and unfortunately Carlos was unable to improve with his second run also due to traffic. However, Daniil got his lap in and progressed to Q3 without too many problems. With the red flag in Q3 coming with Daniil on track, we were forced to bring him back and prepare for the restart. With so many cars following each other in a train on the out lap, tire preparation was not ideal and therefore we were not able to improve. Once this said, we are not unhappy with our starting position and we are ready to switch our focus to the race."
Felipe Nasr (16th, 1:46.048): "Overall it was a good qualifying. First of all, I want to say a big thank you to everyone in the team. We put everything together today. In qualifying we managed to beat Renault and Manor, which is a good sign. I felt I pushed the car to the limit and the team made a good job timing-wise. We can be pleased that we made it into Q2. It is still far from what we want to achieve, but it is already a step forward. We will keep on fighting tomorrow in the race."
Marcus Ericsson (20th, 1:46.231): "It was a disappointing session for me. It was a bit messy, as I had some traffic on the first as well as the second set of tires. On my last try I was pushing to the maximum, and was a bit over the limit! It is a street track, so you need to be as close as possible to the walls. I was a bit too close and brushed them slightly, so I lost some lap time. It was a disappointing result for me. Nevertheless, I want to say a big thank you to my car crew. They have been working really hard this weekend to get me on track for every session. I will fight hard for them tomorrow."
Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal:
Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Head of Track Engineering:
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Fernando Alonso (14th, 1:45.270): "That was quite a tricky qualifying session: Q1 was very stressful, in fact, as it wasn't easy to do a clean lap as there were a lot of incidents, yellow flags and traffic. It was tough. While we didn't quite have the pace to get into Q3 today, because other teams are able to turn up their engines, we didn't maximize our potential either, as I believe we could've qualified a little bit better than 14th. On my final Q2 lap, there was a yellow flag at Turn Three for around 15 seconds, which meant I couldn't open the DRS, so I lost a couple of tenths. I also think we probably didn't get everything right ourselves – we were a bit unlucky, because we encountered traffic and were out of sequence with the cars around us. So, 14th position isn't ideal, but we saw how many incidents there were, and how many people went off during qualifying, so there's still everything to fight for tomorrow. A Safety Car or an incident could quickly put us in a position to score points – so that has to be our aim. Whatever opportunity comes our way, we'll be there, focused and ready, to take it."
Jenson Button (19th, 1:45.804): "In Q1, I locked up into Turn 15 – we'd fitted new brakes ahead of quali, which we always do, but they were a bit more 'grabby'. It's a real shame because I'd been seventh or eighth all weekend – and while I'm not sure we're that quick, we're definitely not 19th either. It isn't easy around here because of the traffic, but after I'd flat-spotted, I did a donut to spin the car back around, and that isn't usually the best thing for these tires, so we should have come in and fitted a fresh set of tires for the rest of Q1. We thought we'd have more of a margin – but that wasn't quite the case. We just need to have some fun tomorrow."
Eric Boullier, Racing Director: "It's bitterly disappointing to have qualified 14th and 19th for tomorrow's inaugural European Grand Prix in Baku. We always knew that this afternoon's hour-long session was going to be critical – particularly in Q1, when the track would be at its busiest. Unfortunately, Jenson struggled for a clear lap, locked up into Turn 15, encountered traffic and evaded yellow flags, then couldn't extract the maximum from a somewhat tired set of Supersofts on his final flying lap. While Fernando made it into Q2, he too didn't manage to record a truly representative time, difficult as it was to cleave a clean lap between the numerous yellow flags encountered during the session. Fortunately, tomorrow's race looks set to be unpredictable and exciting – one where anything could truly happen. We'll go away and lick our wounds this evening, but, mark my words, we'll be pushing hard tomorrow to take advantage of every opportunity. This isn't over."
Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda: "We expected today's qualifying session to be difficult, especially because pace is highly influenced by the long straight of the track. Though we still believe that the overall package is competitive enough to fight with the mid-field cars, both Jenson and Fernando suffered with traffic and yellow flags, and could not put a clean lap together to put them through into Q3. Looking at the results of the GP2 race this morning, this circuit is extremely unpredictable resulting in many on-track incidents, therefore we may still have a chance to collect some points if we manage the race tactically, so we will work on the strategy with the team throughout the 51 laps."
Rio Haryanto (17th, 1:45.665): "It was a good lap for me today so I'm really pleased. We made some changes on the car for FP3, which worked well. We were also very close to Q2 but unfortunately I only managed one timed lap on the second set of tires and when I tried to go again there was a yellow flag. We need to be very focused now for tomorrow; although the GP2 race showed that anything is possible, we have to make sure we have a good start and a strong, clean race without any mistakes if we're to take advantage of opportunities. We will try our best and hope everything goes our way but for now this is a nice moment to enjoy."
Pascal Wehrlein (18th, 1:45.750): "I'm a bit disappointed with qualifying as Q2 was definitely possible today. The DRS was disabled on my quickest lap when the yellow flag came out in turns 3 and 4, so I lost a couple of tenths there. My second lap was better from that point of view but I lost a couple more tenths due to tire degradation. We had good pace for sure and our package is working well here. That's how it is today but tomorrow is a new day and I'll give it my best shot. The most important thing is to finish the race, as I'm sure there will be some good opportunities tomorrow after seeing how GP2 went today. With Safety Cars, and a strong performance for us, a really good result is possible."
Dave Ryan, Racing Director: "This has been our strongest qualifying session all year and to have both cars so close to getting through to Q2, ahead of both Renaults, a Sauber and a McLaren, is quite an achievement. It demonstrates just how far we have progressed, so well done to the entire team and especially Rio and Pascal who have been absolutely on it all day. Strange to say, but while we are very happy with where we are on the grid, at the same time there is also a degree of frustration as both drivers were slightly compromised on their fastest laps. That's the way it goes though and now we are focused on tomorrow's race, which promises plenty of action and great opportunity."
Romain Grosjean (11th, 1:44.755): "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."
Esteban Gutierrez (15th, 1:45.349): "Today hasn't been a good day for me. I've been struggling a bit with the brakes. On the last lap I took a few risks and I made a small mistake. Unfortunately, I didn't have another chance after that. Overall, I think sometimes you have to take risks and these things happen. In racing you have to try to make the most of every opportunity and, occasionally, it comes out like this. Looking ahead to tomorrow, we will try to advance as much as we can and get the best out of our performance. The track will allow for some overtaking so it will be a great race to watch."
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal: "A good qualifying for us. Eleventh for Romain, which is a position you want to be in, and 15th for Esteban, which is also a good result. It's so difficult to predict what's going to happen at a new track, so I think we could have quite an unpredictable race ahead of us. However, if we keep fighting this hard, avoiding little mistakes, it will certainly make for an interesting race. I'm hoping for a positive and exciting race for us. If we keep out of trouble, hopefully we can go home with points."
1. Nico Rosberg GER Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 42.758s
2. Sergio Perez MEX Force India-Mercedes 1m 43.515s*
3. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1m 43.966s
4. Sebastian Vettel GER Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 43.966s
5. Kimi Raikkonen FIN Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 44.269s
6. Felipe Massa BRZ Williams-Mercedes 1m 44.483s
7. Daniil Kvyat RUS Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 44.717s
8. Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams-Mercedes 1m 45.246s
9. Max Verstappen NED Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1m 45.570s
10. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes-Mercedes 2m 01.954s
11. Romain Grosjean FRA Haas-Ferrari 1m 44.755s
12. Nico Hulkenberg GER Force India-Mercedes 1m 44.824s
13. Carlos Sainz Jr ESP Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 45.000s
14. Fernando Alonso ESP McLaren-Honda 1m 45.270s
15. Esteban Gutierrez MEX Haas-Ferrari 1m 45.349s
16. Felipe Nasr BRZ Sauber-Ferrari 1m 46.048s
17. Rio Haryanto INA MRT-Mercedes 1m 45.665s
18. Pascal Wehrlein GER MRT-Mercedes 1m 45.750s
19. Jenson Button GBR McLaren-Honda 1m 45.804s
20. Marcus Ericsson SWE Sauber-Ferrari 1m 46.231s
21. Kevin Magnussen DEN Renault-Renault 1m 46.348s
22. Jolyon Palmer GBR Renault-Renault 1m 46.394s