Grand Prix of Azerbaijan – Qualifying


HAM’s win in China puts him 6 points ahead of teammate BOT in the standings, and Mercedes a healthy 57 points ahead of Ferrari.

The good news is that VET has shaved off his moustache šŸ™‚
Not such good news for GIO – his Alfa Romeo has a third electronics change in four races, which means he will drop 10 places on the grid for this race. [BBC] In fact all Ferrari-engined cars – those from the factory team and from customers Haas and Alfa Romeo – have already had to change their electronics boxes this season.

Free Practice:

  1. FP1: LEC (1:47.497), VET – only 2 drivers set times before the session was cancelled
    RUS’ Williams was damaged on a loose manhole cover – it damaged the floor of his car and spread debris across the track
    To add insult to injury, when the car was being brought back to the pits on a truck the track recovery team hit a bridge, causing the crane to leak hydraulic fluid over the Williams!
    Video of the whole crazy incident is on YouTube
    This resulted in FP1 being red flagged (suspended) and then cancelled because checking the track took too long
  2. FP2: LEC (1:42.872), VET, HAM, VER, BOT
    Claire Williams, the deputy team principal of Williams, says “I can’t put a number on the cost of repairs yet, but it’s in the hundreds of thousands”
    STR locks up, hits the wall and brings out the red flags
    A few minutes later, birthday-boy KVY does the same – red flags again
  3. FP3: LEC (1:41.604), VET, VER, BOT, HAM
    GAS missed the weighbridge, stopped in his box and the team worked on the car – penalty: he’ll start the race from the pit lane [F1]

So LEC was fastest in all 3 practice sessions

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
RAI 1:43.415
BOT 1:42.430
(LEC P2)
HAM takes to the escape road
Radio for RIC telling him to watch his mirrors because they’ve lost track info on the pit wall
VET 1:42.348
(HAM P6)
STR brushes the wall again – at least he didn’t cause a red flag like he did in FP2
LEC 1:41.426
(VER is P12, HAM down in P15)
(HAM P3)
5mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are GRO, STR, RUS, KUB, HUL
GAS gets a tow down the straight, goes P1 – 1:41.335 (but remember his FP3 penalty means he’ll start the race from the pit lane)
STR P15, RIC P16
HUL P18
(VER P4)
Chequered flag; bottom 5 are RIC, GRO, HUL, RUS, KUB
HUL P16
KUB is in the tyre wall – red flag to end Q1
Replay shows KUB hit the inside wall then straight line into the tyre wall on the outside of Turn 8
Back of the grid: STR, GRO, HUL, RUS, KUB
It’s worth noting this is the first session (free practice, quali or race) this season that’s topped by anyone other than a Mercedes or Ferrari.

Qualifying session 2
Start of Q2 delayed while they repair Turn 8
Track temperature dropping as the sun sets
Green light to mark the start of Q2
Both Ferraris are going out on medium compound tyres; Mercedes are on softs
SAI 1:42.398
KVY 1:42.278
BOT 1:41.522
(HAM P2)
(LEC P3)
(VET P11)
VER 1:41.388
LEC in the tyre wall at Turn 8 – red flag
Radio from LEC – “I am stupid; I am stupid”
Session is suspended while they rebuild that same corner
Order is: VER, BOT, HAM, PER, LEC, RAI, KVY, SAI, NOR, MAG, ALB, VET, RIC, GIO, GAS
Replay shows VET (on his first quick lap) clip the inside wall at Turn 8
The marshals are sweeping up at T8 but the track’s looking damp – could be fluid from LEC’s Ferrari or the fire extinguishers
Q2 will restart in 5 minutes
Air temperature 15°C, track 28°C
There’s 7:41 remaining in Q2
Order is: VER, BOT, HAM, PER, LEC, RAI, KVY, SAI, NOR, MAG, ALB, VET, RIC, GIO, GAS
Green light = Q2 restarts
Official warning message for the slippery surface in T8
VET heads out; on soft tyres this time
Top 6 still in their garages but KVY et sec are on track
3mins left of Q2
VET P7; MAG P11
RIC P11
ALB P12
2mins left; bottom 5 are RIC, ALB, MAG, GIO, GAS
Chequered flag
GIO P10, SAI P11
KVY slaps the wall with his rear right
Middle of the grid: SAI, RIC, ALB, MAG, GAS*
*GAS will start the race from the pit lane due to his FP3 penalty

Qualifying session 3 starts shortly…
Top 10 shootout is between VER, BOT, HAM, PER, VET, LEC (who won’t be able to run), RAI, NOR, KVY, GIO*
*GIO has a 10 grid place penalty awaiting him due to taking a new control electronics (CE) box
VER 1:41.447
BOT 1:41.172
HAM 1:40.703
GRO P4
NOR P4
RAI P6
VET P2
PER P5
After the first run: HAM, VET, BOT, VER, PER, NOR, GIO, RAI, KVY, LEC
Everyone bar VER heading back to the pits
VER P2
KVY P6
Interesting to see both Mercedes wait at the pit exit as a stream of cars head out for a final run
Chequered flag
VET P2
BOT 1:40.495
HAM P2
Front of the grid: BOT, HAM, VET, VER, PER, KVY, NOR, GIO*, RAI, LEC

So many incidents and issues!
BOT had 3 personal fastest sectors in his fastest lap whereas HAM had 2 outright fastest sectors
VET says he regrets his quick out lap because he thinks he’d have found a faster lap if he had someone in front to give him a tow

Provisional grid: BOT, HAM, VET, VER, PER, KVY, NOR, GIO*, RAI, LEC, SAI, RIC, ALB, MAG, GAS*, STR, GRO, HUL, RUS, KUB
*GIO has a 10 grid place penalty to be applied
*GAS will start the race from the pit lane due to his FP3 penalty
Will LEC have any penalty, depending on what the team need to replace?