Vettel takes pole position in Azerbaijan

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel will start from pole position at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel will start from pole position for the third race in a row after setting the fastest time in qualifying for the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The current championship leader set a time of 1:41.498 to beat Lewis Hamilton to pole, with the Mercedes driver joining Vettel on the front row, while Valtteri Bottas completes the top three.

Kimi Raikkonen came close to beating Vettel’s time in the final moments of qualifying, but the Finn ran wide in the final sector, ruining his lap time and leaving him sixth alongside Max Verstappen on the third row.

Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, recovered from an early mistake in Q3, having brushed the wall during his first timed lap. He put together a clean lap later in the session though, moving him ahead of his teammate, who couldn’t improve his time.

Earlier in qualifying, Romain Grosjean wasn’t able to set a time after suffering a gearbox problem at the start of Q1, forcing him to pull into the run off area.

Toro Rosso’s hopes of progressing to Q2 ended when a fast-moving Pierre Gasly came across his slower teammate, with the Frenchman narrowly avoiding a heavy hit with Brendon Hartley, who appeared to have picked up damage earlier in the lap, including a puncture. Although he avoided the collision, Gasly missed the corner, damaging his tyres and costing him the chance to improve his time.

Toro Rosso’s problems benefitted Williams who got both cars into Q2 for the first time this season. Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin pushed hard to make it through to the final part of qualifying but narrowly missed out, although they did qualify higher than both Haas and McLaren cars.

Force India did manage to get both cars in Q3 for the first time this season, and proved to be the best of the rest as Esteban Ocon secured seventh, just ahead of his teammate, while Renault complete the top 10, although Nico Hulkenberg will drop back five places after having to change his gearbox at the end of practice.

Provisional qualifying result:

1 Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)

2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)

4. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)

5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

6. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)

7. Esteban Ocon (Force India)

8. Sergio Perez (Force India)

9. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault)*

10. Carlos Sainz (Renault)

11. Lance Stroll (Williams)

12. Sergey Sirotkin (Williams)

13. Fernando Alonso (McLaren)

14. Charles Leclerc (Alfa Romeo Sauber)

15. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

16. Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren)

17. Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso)

18. Marcus Ericsson (Alfa Romeo Sauber)

19. Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso)

20. Romain Grosjean (Haas)

*Nico Hulkenberg has a 5-place grid penalty for a gearbox change

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