Azerbaijan GP: Sebastian Vettel takes pole position, Hamilton second

Valterri Bottas
Valterri Bottas

Valterri Bottas took a brilliant pole position as Mercedes locked out the front row of the gird for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

In an incident-packed qualifying session which saw an hour delay due to TWO red flags, Bottas kept his cool to beat Lewis Hamilton, who starts in second place.

Bottas said: “I am really happy. It is a nice feeling to get it on the last lap and Ferrari had been really strong.

“We did good as a team to be where we are now after a difficult practice but it is all about small margins and fine details and I managed to hit the sweetspot.”

Hamilton meanwhile says he was playing catch-up to Bottas, who has a history of being quick in Baku.

He added: “It has been so close all weekend. Ferrari looked incredibly quick and Valtteri has been quick.

“It is a big result. We had no upgrades here and it puts us in a good fighting position for tomorrow. Valtteri is always quick here so I had my work cut out.”

Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel will line up on third place and rubbished Merc’s suggestions that the Italian team have the quicker car.

He said: “I think Mercedes were quicker. We started a bit slow but the session was tricky.”

The two-hour qualifying saw lengthy delays as repairs were made to the crash barrier.

Robert Kubica was first to have a heavy smash in his Williams when he struck the wall near the castle.

The Polish driver hit one wall at 110mph and was sent flying into another, wrecking his car and causing Q1 to be red-flagged.

Kubica was unhurt in the smash but it caused a 30 minute delay as track staff made repairs to the barriers.

And then in Q2, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc did the same, causing another lengthy delay as the repairs were made to the same barrier.

Leclerc crashes into a wall
Leclerc crashes into a wall

The 21-year-old was livid with himself and moaned over the radio “I am stupid!” but he was unhurt while the marshals tidied up the mess.

He said: “I don’t want to say anything stupid but I think after FP1, FP2 and FP3 and Q1, pole was possible today and I threw all the potential in the bin.

“I’m very disappointed and will come back stronger from this.”

When the action did resume, Hamilton took provisional pole with a brilliant lap which Vettel could not improve upon.

And then in the final stages Bottas beat both of them with a sensational last ditch flying lap to take pole.

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