Max starts from P5 in Baku: 'We waited too long'

Published on 28 April 2018 by Raymond Snip

Leading up to the Grand Prix of Azerbaijan Max Verstappen qualified as fifth. At the street circuit in Baku, Sebastian Vettel will take pole position in his Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton finished the session in second spot in his Mercedes, followed by his teammate Valtteri Bottas.

"We have been waiting in the pits for too long", says Max after qualifying. "We tried to get a tow from someone and because of that we were waiting in the garage for too long without the heating on the tyres. The front tyres did not work optimally in the final run and on a street circuit that is a bigger penalty. But in the end, things weren’t too bad. We start from a good fighting postion and a lot can happen during the race."

Asked about the possibilities and strategy during the race, the Dutchman replies: "The top-five starts on the super-soft tyres and perhaps we can extend our stint a bit longer compared to Kimi who is on ultras, we'll find out. We have to wait and see if there is a  chance for winning, Sebastian was very fast but we are not giving up."

Prior to the session it was clear that Nico Hülkenberg will start the race on Sunday afternoon with a grid penalty. The Renault team had to change the German’s gearbox, which is penalized with five spots. After his crash in FP3, the Williams of Sergey Sirotkin has been repaired on time so the Russian is able to start in Q1.

When the lights turn green for Q1, the entire field goes out on track with the exception of both the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing drivers and Sergio Perez. Romain Grosjean, in his Haas, causes the first yellow flag. He goes straight after blocking the left front wheel. Shortly after it is over for the Frenchman as he has to stop his Haas with gearbox problems.

Meanwhile, both Red Bulls have appeared on track. Max briefly sets the fastest time but a bit later Ricciardo beats him. Both Ferrari's and both Mercedes-Benz follow the example of the Australian, which drops Max back to P6. Surprisingly, later, we see the Force India of Esteban Ocon in P2. The pace of the Force India looks good this weekend.

In the final phase, Pierre Gasly comes in contact with his teammate Brendon Hartley at high speed and shoots straight ahead. When Q1 comes to an end, Max is in P2, Ricciardo in P5 and Stoffel Vandoorne, Gasly, Marcus Ericsson, Hartley and Grosjean are out.

At the beginning of Q2 the cars of Hamilton, Bottas, Vettel, Raikkonen and the two Red Bulls are on the super soft tyres that they will start with on Sunday. Lance Stroll and Raikkonen miss a turn and briefly cause a yellow flag. After their first flying lap Bottas is in P1, followed by Max in P2 and Vettel P3. Meanwhile, Raikkonen once again misses a turn and returns to the pit for a fresh set of ultra-softs.

The entire field goes back on track for a second run. Max does not complete his second run and Ricciardo escapes termination with P10. Stroll, Sirotkin, Alonso, Leclerc and Magnussen eventually are terminated in Q2.

Ocon and Max open up Q3 and the Dutchman, with Ricciardo following closely, is the first to start a flying lap. Max sets the fastest time of the day with a 1:42.017. Ricciardo can not beat that , he is four tenths of a a second slower than his faster teammate. However both Mercedes-Benz drivers succeed. A moment later Vettel beats all of them, Max is on P4.

In the all important second run, we first see both Mercedes not improving their position. Raikkonen risks everything and makes a mistake. He remains sixth. Ricciardo grabs P4, he is eight hundredths quicker than Max, who did improve himself. Pole position is for Vettel, P5 for the Dutchman.

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Results qualifying Azerbaijan:

1Sebastian VettelVETFerrari1:42.7621:43.0151:41.498
2Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:42.6931:42.6761:41.677
3Valtteri BottasBOTMercedes1:43.3551:42.6791:41.837
4Daniel RicciardoRICRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:42.8571:43.4821:41.911
5Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:42.6421:42.9011:41.994
6Kimi RäikkönenRAIFerrari1:42.5381:42.5101:42.490
7Esteban OconOCOForce India Mercedes1:43.0211:42.9671:42.523
8Sergio PerezPERForce India Mercedes1:43.9921:43.3661:42.547
9Nico HulkenbergHULRenault1:43.7461:43.2321:43.066
10Carlos SainzSAIRenault1:43.4261:43.4641:43.351
11Lance StrollSTRWilliams Mercedes1:44.3591:43.585
12Sergey SirotkinSIRWilliams Mercedes1:44.2611:43.886
13Fernando AlonsoALOMcLaren Renault1:44.0101:44.019
14Charles LeclercLECSauber Ferrari1:43.7521:44.074
15Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:43.6741:44.759
16Stoffel VandoorneVANMcLaren Renault1:44.489
17Pierre GaslyGASScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:44.496
18Marcus EricssonERISauber Ferrari1:45.541
0Brendon HartleyHARScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:57.354
0Romain GrosjeanGROHaas Ferrari---