Formula One: Hamilton crashes, Nico gets pole in Baku

In good cheer in the paddock area after qualifying are (from left) Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, Force India's Sergio Perez and Mercedes' Nico Rosberg. Perez will start seventh after a gear-box change penalty, so Ricciardo will begin alongside pole-si
In good cheer in the paddock area after qualifying are (from left) Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, Force India's Sergio Perez and Mercedes' Nico Rosberg. Perez will start seventh after a gear-box change penalty, so Ricciardo will begin alongside pole-sitter Rosberg and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel moves up into third. PHOTO: REUTERS

World champ starts 10th, with tight, twisty street circuit claiming other victims as well

BAKU (Azerbaijan) • Nico Rosberg will start on pole for the inaugural European Grand Prix in Baku, with his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton only 10th after a calamitous qualifying session on the tricky street circuit yesterday.

The Briton was quickest in all three practice sessions but the Formula One triple world champion had an error-strewn qualifying, culminating in him crashing his Mercedes in Q3.

Rosberg took full advantage of Hamilton's misfortune. The championship-leading German clipped the wall on his fastest lap in Q3 on his way to a 1min 42.758sec time, after Hamilton did the same but more severely in the track's narrowest section, damaging his front right tyre.

The Briton was forced to pull up and, as he walked away, the session was red-flagged to a halt with two minutes remaining as marshals cleared the debris.

"I couldn't tell you what the possibilities are for tomorrow," he said. "It's damage limitation from here. The team made a change to something overnight, but I just wasn't on it today."

  • STARTING GRID

  • 1st row

    Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes

    Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull

    2nd row

    Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari

    Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari

    3rd row

    Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams

    Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Toro Rosso

    4th row

    Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India

    Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Williams

    5th row

    Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull

    Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes

    6th row

    Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas

    Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Force India

    7th row

    Carlos Sainz (Esp) Toro Rosso

    Fernando Alonso (Esp) McLaren

    8th row

    Esteban Gutierrez (Mex) Haas

    Felipe Nasr (Bra) Sauber

    9th row

    Rio Haryanto (Ina) Manor

    Pascal Wehrlein (Ger) Manor

    10th row

    Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren

    Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber

    11th row

    Kevin Magnussen (Den) Renault

    Jolyon Palmer (Gbr) Renault

The pole will have been all the sweeter for Rosberg after Hamilton criticised rivals, including his team-mate, for "moaning" about the street circuit, whose layout winds around ancient city walls but also has long straights.

A buoyant Rosberg said: "It was great. That was one of the more challenging sessions out there, but everything worked out well. All weekend, we have been building towards this and qualifying was really optimum."

When the action resumed, Sergio Perez wound up second fastest for Force India in 1:43.515, but the Mexican will start from seventh after picking up a five-place penalty for a gear-box change after crashing in the final free practice.

The demotion lifted Red Bull's Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who was third-fastest, to the front row.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel moved up to third and his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was fourth.

Brazilian Felipe Massa, for Williams, and Russian Daniil Kvyat, in a Toro Rosso, share the third row.

At the back, Manor can no longer be described as tail-enders after Indonesian Rio Haryanto and Germany's Pascal Wehrlein qualified a creditable 17th and 18th.

That was ahead of 2009 world champion Jenson Button's McLaren, Sauber's Marcus Ericsson and the Renaults of Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer.

The pole was the 25th of Rosberg's career and first since Russia in April, when Hamilton also qualified 10th after an engine failure. The German won that race, with Hamilton second.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 19, 2016, with the headline 'Hamilton crashes, Nico on Baku pole'. Print Edition | Subscribe