After some crazy free practice sessions, qualifying in Baku was expected to be incredibly close. Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull were all seemingly in with a shout at pole and Force India didn’t look too far behind.
However when it came down to it the two Mercedes ended up being the cars to beat, as they so often have in the past. Even a red flag late in Q3 couldn’t shake up the order and Hamilton stormed to yet another pole position.
Track conditions were tricky and the tyres required a couple of laps to get up to temperature before drivers could comfortably push.
Felipe Massa showed just how slippery the track was with a spectacular sideways moment in Q2 which he did well to save.
Felipe with a SAVE 😱 pic.twitter.com/GGdUE285f2
— Ky (@FiftyBuckss) June 24, 2017
In Q3 the battle between the Mercedes drivers was hotting up as Bottas initially set the quickest time, with Hamilton in P2 following a couple of errors on his first run.
But just as the drivers were building up for another run Daniel Ricciardo stuck his Red Bull in the barriers at turn six, bringing out the red flags with just over three-and-a-half minutes left on the clock.
When the session restarted only Max Verstappen had enough time to complete two flying laps, with the rest of the drivers left with only one attempt. Bottas managed to improve his time slightly but Hamilton absolutely smashed it, and ended up taking pole by just over four tenths from his teammate with a time of 1:40.593.
Ferrari (especially Sebastian Vettel) had somewhat struggled for pace all session but even so the duo managed to lock out the second row, with Kimi Raikkonen ahead of his teammate, but they were over a second slower than Hamilton’s pole position time.
Verstappen ended the session in fifth, just a fraction behind the Ferraris, and Force India had a solid session with Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon lining up sixth and seventh.
Lance Stroll followed up his solid Canadian Grand Prix by outqualifying Massa for the first time this season, the pair of them starting eighth and ninth, whilst Ricciardo’s accident ensured he’ll start no higher than 10th.
Further down the grid Pascal Wehrlein did a good job to get his Sauber into Q2 and will start from 14th tomorrow. Neither McLaren could make it out of Q1 though – not that it really matters considering the colossal grid penalties both drivers have for the race.
Still, at least they got a chance to qualify. Jolyon Palmer didn’t even set a lap following damage from when his car caught fire in FP3.