Valtteri Bottas stormed to pole position for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after Charles Leclerc’s crash in Q2 denied the Monegasque, who had been the quickest man on-track all weekend until he ploughed into the barriers at the castle section of the Baku circuit.
A bonkers Saturday in Baku ended with Bottas leading Lewis Hamilton in an all-Mercedes front row, despite the team’s pessimism ahead of the session. The Finn will have a chance at redemption after losing out in last year’s race due to a puncture a few laps from the end while leading.
Charles Leclerc will also be out to make good, however, having dominated the weekend right up to the middle of Q2 when he went into the barriers at the castle, matching an incident suffered by Robert Kubica at the same spot in Q1.
With the door open, Hamilton looked like he would be the one to benefit after the first runs of Q3, but Bottas picked up a tow down Baku’s monster straight and pipped his team-mate by 0.059 seconds with an outright lap record time of 1:40.495.
Third place went to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. Once the barriers were repaired and Q2 resumed, Sebastian Vettel switched to the Soft tyre and escaped the drop zone to make it into Q3, but was not able to beat the two Mercedes cars in the final stages of the qualifying session at the Baku City Circuit.
Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Qualifying Results
1. Valtteri Bottas FIN Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport 1m40.495s
2. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport + 0.059s
3. Sebastian Vettel GER Scuderia Ferrari + 0.302s
4. Max Verstappen NED Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Honda + 0.574s
5. Sergio Perez MEX SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team + 1.098s
6. Daniil Kvyat RUS Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda + 1.186s
7. Lando Norris GBR McLaren F1 Team + 1.391s
8. Antonio Giovinazzi ITA Alfa Romeo Racing + 1.929s
9. Kimi Raikkonen ITA Alfa Romeo Racing + 2.573s
10. Charles Leclerc MON Scuderia Ferrari no time
— Q2 FASTEST TIME: 1m41.388s —
11. Carlos Sainz ESP McLaren F1 Team + 1.010s
12. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Renault F1 Team + 1.089s
13. Alexander Albon THA Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda + 1.106s
14. Kevin Magnussen DEN Rich Energy Haas F1 Team + 1.311s
15. Pierre Gasly FRA Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Honda no time
— Q1 FASTEST TIME: 1m41.335s —
16. Lance Stroll CAN SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team + 1.295s
17. Romain Grosjean FRA Rich Energy Haas F1 Team + 2.072s
18. Nico Hulkenberg GER Renault F1 Team + 2.092s
19. George Russell GBR ROKiT Williams Racing + 3.727s
20. Robert Kubica POL ROKiT Williams Racing + 4.396s