Hamilton cleared of blocking Grosjean, keeps British GP pole
Lewis Hamilton will keep his pole position for Formula 1’s British Grand Prix after being cleared of blocking Romain Grosjean in Q3 at Silverstone.
Grosjean was left furious after feeling that he had been impeded by Hamilton on the left-hand turn into Club as he finished his first run in the final shootout session.
The Haas team suspected Grosjean had lost around three tenths of a second in the incident and would have beaten Stoffel Vandoorne to ninth place.
Although the race stewards launched an investigation into the matter, their analysis of the situation was that while Hamilton had got in Grosjean’s way, he had not cost the Frenchman anything.
A statement issued by the FIA said: "The stewards examined video and telemetry evidence and concluded that while GRO may potentially have been affected by the presence of HAM at Turn 16, he was not impeded."
Prior to the stewards’ decision, Hamilton had already apologised to Grosjean and claimed he had received no warning from his Mercedes team over the radio that the Haas driver was approaching him.
"I was coming around to start my lap, Valtteri [Bottas] up ahead, I was trying to get the space," said Hamilton.
"Behind me was one of the Force Indias, who then came in, so there was no one behind me.
"Literally as I was about to get on the gas I looked in the mirror and saw a car, and I tried to get going.
"I don’t know if I got in the way, if I did I apologise.
"I had no indication from the team that anyone was coming. I need to look at the footage.
"I don’t think he was that close when I pulled away, but I will have a look."
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m28.130s||1.530s|
|6||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m28.902s||2.302s|
|7||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m29.074s||2.474s|
|12||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m30.355s||–|
|13||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m31.368s||–|
|19||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m42.966s||–|
British Grand Prix practice: Lewis Hamilton pips Sebastian Vettel
Lewis Hamilton set the pace in final practice for the British Grand Prix, beating Formula 1 championship rival Sebastian Vettel by just 0.032 seconds on Saturday morning.
With the session commencing with an 80% chance of rain, most drivers opted to get out on track early on before the bad weather had chance to hit, which it finally did in the final 20 minutes.
Valtteri Bottas, who has been hit by a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, led the way in the opening runs on soft tyres, setting an early benchmark of 1m28.827s in the first 10 minutes.
His Mercedes team-mate Hamilton then took the top spot with a 1m28.747s on the yellow-marked rubber, which stood as the best time until he put on super-soft tyres just shy of the halfway mark and set a 1m28.063s to go seven tenths clear of the pack.
Bottas was only able to come within 0.151s of Hamilton on his first run on super-softs, and it was Ferrari driver Vettel who emerged as the three-time champion’s closest rival as he slotted into second, just 0.032s adrift.
With the rain arriving 15 minutes later, Hamilton’s effort stood as the best time of the session – and the weekend so far – with Vettel staying second and Bottas improving marginally to complete a top three covered by just 0.074s.
Kimi Raikkonen was fourth-fastest in the second Ferrari, a full 0.669s behind Hamilton on the super-soft tyres, and nearly eight tenths up on fifth-placed Nico Hulkenberg in the Renault.
Best of the Red Bull drivers was Daniel Ricciardo in sixth, 1.549s slower than Hamilton, followed by the Haas of Romain Grosjean and Max Verstappen, whose best time was set on softs.
Verstappen did attempt a super-soft run, but left it too late and was caught out by the rain, running off-track at Brooklands and quickly returning to the pits.
Felipe Massa’s Williams and Stoffel Vandoorne’s McLaren completed the top 10, Vandoorne eclipsing team-mate Fernando Alonso by 0.050s.
Besides Verstappen, the only other drivers not to set their best time on super-softs were Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr, who was 17th-fastest, and the second Williams of Lance Stroll, who propped up the timesheets, 1.4s slower than Massa.
All drivers headed out in the closing stages of the session on intermediate tyres, an extra set of them having been supplied by Pirelli for the session.
A handful of late incidents showed how tricky conditions had become – Ricciardo spinning but avoiding the wall exiting Club and Marcus Ericsson pirouetting on the approach to Vale.
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m29.612s||1.549s||15|
|8||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m29.904s||1.841s||13|
|12||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m30.172s||2.109s||19|
|15||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m30.416s||2.353s||16|
|16||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m30.504s||2.441s||20|
|17||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m30.515s||2.452s||19|
British Grand Prix: Bottas pips Hamilton in second Friday practice
Valtteri Bottas stayed on top in second practice for Formula 1’s British Grand Prix, beating Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton by only 0.047 seconds.
Bottas’s benchmark from the morning was beaten around 15 minutes into the afternoon session at Silverstone, as Hamilton posted a 1m28.780s on soft tyres before quickly improving to a 1m28.543s.
That put Hamilton a full six tenths clear of the field, led by Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, until Bottas switched from mediums to super-softs at the 30-minute mark and set a new best of 1m28.496s.
When Hamilton took super-softs, he ran off the track at Chapel and told his engineers he feared he had damaged the car in the process. His soft-tyre time still kept him in second place.
With teams shifting their focus towards longer runs for the latter half of the session, Bottas’s best effort stood as the quickest time of the day.
Raikkonen was third-quickest, going 0.338s slower than compatriot Bottas on his super-soft run and 0.128 faster than the second Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.
There was late drama for Raikkonen when he suffered a moment of snap oversteer at Becketts and span into the gravel, although he got going again without outside assistance.
Max Verstappen was best of the Red Bull drivers in fifth, 0.602s off the pace on super-softs, while team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was sixth, nearly half a second down on the sister car on the same tyre.
Nico Hulkenberg, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon completed the top 10, all using super-softs, with Williams driver Massa spinning at Chapel late in the session after setting his best time.
Massa also attracted the attention of the stewards for impeding Verstappen, having passed the Red Bull driver around the outside at Club while both drivers were on long runs.
Carlos Sainz Jr had a major off-track excursion at the Maggotts/Becketts complex at the very start of the session, which consigned the Toro Rosso driver to the pits until the final 40 minutes.
He emerged to set the 11th quickest time, ahead of team-mate Daniil Kvyat in 12th.
Renault’s Jolyon Palmer also had a spin at Brooklands, ending up 18th ahead of only the two Saubers.
PRACTICE TWO RESULTS:
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m29.098s||0.602s||32|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m29.586s||1.090s||35|
|10||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m30.383s||1.887s||42|
|11||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m30.555s||2.059s||26|
|12||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m30.562s||2.066s||34|
|13||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m30.624s||2.128s||43|
Bottas sets British GP practice pace as Vettel tries F1’s shield
Valtteri Bottas set the pace in opening practice for the British Grand Prix as Sebastian Vettel became the first Formula 1 driver to trial the shield cockpit protection device.
Bottas used the soft compound Pirelli tyres to clock a 1m29.106s at an overcast Silverstone, 0.078 seconds quicker than Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
Championship leader Vettel, who was sixth fastest, headed out of the garage at the start of the session with the screen, which extends along the car’s nose in front of the driver, attached to his Ferrari.
He completed a single installation lap and then returned to the garage where Ferrari removed the device and switched attention to its weekend programme.
The medium compound – the hardest tyre available this weekend – was the rubber of choice for the early installation laps before Kimi Raikkonen fitted the super-softs and set the first time of the session with a 1m32.533s.
He traded quickest laps with the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, with Verstappen coming out on top initially.
Mercedes then sent Bottas out and he went quickest on the soft tyres with a 1m30.788s.
Hamilton lapped three tenths faster with his first real effort on the softs but his team-mate responded immediately to become the first driver to dip into the 1m29s.
Bottas continued to improve, gradually bringing his time down to a 1m29.106s, quicker than last year’s pole position time of 1m29.287s.
Red Bull emerged as Mercedes’ closest challenger, with Verstappen and Ricciardo third and fourth quickest respectively, but both their laps were set on the super-softs.
Raikkonen was the leading Ferrari in fifth, 1.031s off the pace but four tenths quicker than team-mate Vettel, who spun at Becketts and flatspotted his tyres.
Fernando Alonso, running the more-powerful ‘spec 3’ Honda engine in his McLaren again this weekend, was eighth quickest on the super-softs, a tenth behind Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat.
Felipe Massa, whose Williams team adopted a split approach with its upgrades after a troubled Austrian GP by running different configurations on his and Lance Stroll’s cars, was ninth.
Stoffel Vandoorne made it two McLarens in the top 10, just half-a-tenth slower than team-mate Alonso.
Antonio Giovinazzi borrowed Kevin Magnussen’s Haas and set the 17th quickest time, nearly half-a-second off team-mate Romain Grosjean.
Jolyon Palmer missed much of the opening part of the session with his Renault up on stands in the garage, but the team eventually got him back out and he ended up 18th quickest after 16 laps.
PRACTICE ONE RESULTS:
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m29.604s||0.498s||26|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m29.942s||0.836s||19|
|7||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m30.895s||1.789s||21|
|11||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m31.200s||2.094s||24|
|12||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m31.210s||2.104s||32|
|13||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m31.297s||2.191s||34|
“A pretty decent day”
Scuderia Ferrari drivers convinced that further progress can be made
Silverstone – As is typical of Fridays, Scuderia Ferrari drivers had a lot of things to get through in the two practice sessions. For what it’s worth on a day in which neither points nor grid places are given, P2 ended with Kimi setting the third fastest lap time of 1’28”828, with Seb a close fourth at 1’28”956. A new engine had been fitted to the SF70H since morning and different fuel levels were tested during both sessions.
“It was a pretty decent day”, said Kimi, “a bit more straightforward session than on other occasions, and we had no issues. Since this morning the feeling had been ok, but obviously at the beginning there was a bit of guesswork with the conditions, as always when you first run at a track. It could have been a bit better, but it was not too bad either. Tomorrow will be a different day, we can only try to do our best and I’m sure we can improve. In qualifying and mainly on Sunday we’ll see if it is enough”.
Bottas beats Vettel to Austrian GP pole, Hamilton to start eighth
Valtteri Bottas narrowly beat Sebastian Vettel to pole position for Formula 1’s Austrian Grand Prix, while Lewis Hamilton will start no better than eighth thanks to a grid penalty.
Bottas’s Mercedes led Vettel’s Ferrari by less than a tenth after the first runs in Q3, with Hamilton’s Mercedes 0.131 seconds further back in third.
All drivers lost their opportunity to improve on the second runs after Romain Grosjean’s Haas broke down at the exit of Turn 3 while he tried to adjust his engine settings, and Max Verstappen’s Red Bull spun into the gravel at the exit of Turn 7.
Bottas therefore secured his second pole position in F1, and will share the front row with team-mate Hamilton’s chief title rival Vettel.
Hamilton was already more than two tenths down on his earlier best through the first sector on his second lap and he also suffered a wobble on the exit of Turn 4, so would not likely have qualified better than third fastest.
He used super-soft tyres to progress through Q2, so will start the race on an alternative tyre strategy in the wake of his impending five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change.
The second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen was fourth quickest, just ahead of Red Bull team-mates Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, who was struggling with oversteer through Turn 3 before his high-speed spin.
Grosjean ended up seventh fastest thanks to a strong first run, while Force India team-mates Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon were eighth and ninth, separated by less than a tenth.
Carlos Sainz Jr’s Toro Rosso made Q3 for the first time since May’s Monaco GP and rounded out the top 10.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg only just failed to displace Ocon’s Force India from the top 10 shootout in Q2, falling short by 0.047s.
Hulkenberg was only five thousandths of a second quicker than Fernando Alonso’s spec-2 engined McLaren-Honda, which failed to improve during its second run.
Alonso’s team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, running the quicker spec-3 Honda engine, was happy to qualify 13th, the 0.139s gap to Alonso being the closest Vandoorne has managed to get to his illustrious team-mate so far this season.
Daniil Kvyat endured a difficult session and wound up only 14th fastest in the second Toro Rosso, while Kevin Magnussen ended up last of the Q2 runners, having failed to participate in that segment of qualifying after his Haas suffered a rear suspension failure in Q1.
Vandoorne escaped Q1 for only the second time this season, denying Renault’s Jolyon Palmer a place in Q2 by just 0.029s with a late improvement.
Palmer failed to improve on his final lap, dropping nearly a tenth compared to his earlier best, so he wound up 16th.
Williams endured its worst qualifying session of the season, with both drivers failing to escape Q1.
Felipe Massa was more than two tenths away from making the cut and only 17th quickest, while rookie team-mate Lance Stroll was another 0.074s down in 18th.
Marcus Ericsson got the better of Sauber team-mate Pascal Wehrlein to avoid wooden-spoon status, lapping only 0.249s away from Stroll, having been more than half a second off the next fastest car in final practice.
Wehrlein struggled with a persistent battery problem during final practice and qualifying and expects to start the race from the pitlane after an overnight engine change.
|1||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team||Mercedes||1m04.251s||–|
|2||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari||Ferrari||1m04.293s||0.042s|
|3||Kimi Raikkonen||Scuderia Ferrari||Ferrari||1m04.779s||0.528s|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||Red Bull/Renault||1m04.896s||0.645s|
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||Red Bull/Renault||1m04.983s||0.732s|
|6||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team||Haas/Ferrari||1m05.480s||1.229s|
|7||Sergio Perez||Sahara Force India F1 Team||Force India/Mercedes||1m05.605s||1.354s|
|8||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team||Mercedes||1m04.424s||0.173s|
|9||Esteban Ocon||Sahara Force India F1 Team||Force India/Mercedes||1m05.674s||1.423s|
|10||Carlos Sainz||Scuderia Toro Rosso||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m05.726s||1.475s|
|11||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault Sport F1 Team||Renault||1m05.597s||1.346s|
|12||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda||McLaren/Honda||1m05.602s||1.351s|
|13||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren Honda||McLaren/Honda||1m05.741s||1.490s|
|14||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m05.884s||1.633s|
|15||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team||Haas/Ferrari||–||–|
|16||Jolyon Palmer||Renault Sport F1 Team||Renault||1m06.345s||2.094s|
|17||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing||Williams/Mercedes||1m06.534s||2.283s|
|18||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing||Williams/Mercedes||1m06.608s||2.357s|
|19||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team||Sauber/Ferrari||1m06.857s||2.606s|
|20||Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber F1 Team||Sauber/Ferrari||1m07.011s||2.760s|
Vettel fastest in Austrian GP FP3 as Hamilton suffers brake failure
Sebastian Vettel set a scintillating pace to beat Formula 1 title rival Lewis Hamilton to the quickest time in third practice for the Austrian Grand Prix.
The Ferrari driver posted a 1m05.092s, a new fastest lap of the 2.68-mile version of the Red Bull Ring circuit, on ultra-soft tyres to edge out Hamilton by 0.269 seconds.
Hamilton was unable to respond after he appeared to suffer a brake disc failure in the closing stages.
The second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas was third quickest, 0.423s adrift, with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen a tenth further back in fourth.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen set the early pace on the ultra-soft tyres, clocking a 1m06.015s, with Vettel’s first effort just 0.021s slower.
Bottas then pumped in a 1m05.726s to go fastest, only for Vettel to usurp him by three-and-a-half tenths with a 1m05.726s just before the halfway mark.
Attention then turned to qualifying simulations, with Hamilton the first to head out with a fresh set of ultra-softs – the softest Pirelli tyre in use this weekend.
Hamilton, who topped both of Friday’s practice sessions but has a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, went quickest with a 1m05.361s.
Vettel slotted into second with his first attempt, 0.023s adrift, but looked set to go quickest after setting the fastest two sector times.
But he caught traffic in the form of Hamilton in the final sector and backed out of the lap, before regrouping to record the session-best time on his next flying effort.
There was late drama for Hamilton when he locked up and went off track at the top of the steep ascent to Turn 3.
Replays showed him appearing to hit the brakes normally on the approach to the corner, leading to a big puff of smoke from the front-right wheel before he headed straight on.
Having avoided the gravel trap, Hamilton recovered to the pits gingerly, with Mercedes detecting a brake problem that ended his session early.
Verstappen beat Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo to the fifth-fastest time by a tenth of a second, with Haas’s Kevin Magnussen best of the rest in seventh.
His team-mate Romain Grosjean was eighth, with the Toro Rossos of Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr completing the top 10.
Sainz had a frustrating start to his session when he stopped out on track just a few moments after leaving the pits, citing an engine problem.
The marshals recovered the car to the pits and the team managed to get him going again, with just under half the session to go.
Stoffel Vandoorne was the leading McLaren in 13th, a fraction ahead of team-mate Fernando Alonso in 15th.
Alonso has reverted to the ‘spec 2’ Honda engine for the remainder of the weekend after Honda found a problem on the latest spec unit.
|1||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari||Ferrari||1m05.092s||–||18|
|2||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team||Mercedes||1m05.361s||0.269s||21|
|3||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team||Mercedes||1m05.515s||0.423s||19|
|4||Kimi Raikkonen||Scuderia Ferrari||Ferrari||1m05.611s||0.519s||19|
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||Red Bull/Renault||1m05.784s||0.692s||24|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||Red Bull/Renault||1m05.896s||0.804s||29|
|7||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team||Haas/Ferrari||1m05.936s||0.844s||21|
|8||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team||Haas/Ferrari||1m06.015s||0.923s||22|
|9||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m06.279s||1.187s||28|
|10||Carlos Sainz||Scuderia Toro Rosso||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m06.284s||1.192s||19|
|11||Esteban Ocon||Sahara Force India F1 Team||Force India/Mercedes||1m06.374s||1.282s||26|
|12||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault Sport F1 Team||Renault||1m06.563s||1.471s||18|
|13||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren Honda||McLaren/Honda||1m06.578s||1.486s||18|
|14||Jolyon Palmer||Renault Sport F1 Team||Renault||1m06.595s||1.503s||22|
|15||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda||McLaren/Honda||1m06.599s||1.507s||20|
|16||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing||Williams/Mercedes||1m06.776s||1.684s||22|
|17||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing||Williams/Mercedes||1m06.865s||1.773s||24|
|18||Sergio Perez||Sahara Force India F1 Team||Force India/Mercedes||1m06.875s||1.783s||28|
|19||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team||Sauber/Ferrari||1m07.378s||2.286s||21|
|20||Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber F1 Team||Sauber/Ferrari||1m07.468s||2.376s||25|
Austrian Grand Prix F1 practice: Lewis Hamilton fastest on Friday
Lewis Hamilton continued his record-setting pace to lead the way in second free practice for Formula 1’s Austrian Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver repeated his FP1-topping form on Friday afternoon with a 1m05.483s that put him 0.147s clear of Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari.
Hamilton’s best was half a second quicker than he went in the morning, when he had posted the fastest lap in the 2.68-mile circuit’s history.
Vettel prevented a Mercedes one-two by edging Valtteri Bottas by less than a tenth, although the Finn’s best effort before switching to long runs was hurt by a mistake in the final sector.
Haas driver Kevin Magnussen kicked off the running with a 1m07.891s, but that was quickly beaten by a tenth by the soft-shod Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.
Bottas used super-softs to lower the benchmark to a 1m06.690s, then became the first driver to dip below Hamilton’s FP1 best with a 1m05.869s.
He and Hamilton traded fastest laps before Hamilton and Vettel both failed to convert session-best individual sectors into an overall improvement while trying to match Bottas’s new best of 1m05.700s.
After pitting for ultra-soft tyres Bottas then set the fastest first and second sectors of the session but ran wide at Turn 9 and only managed to improve by 0.001s.
Bottas was lucky to avoid the barriers after sliding through the gravel trap on the exit of Turn 6 and spinning, and Vettel removed him from top spot immediately after with an ultra-soft lap of 1m05.630s.
A couple of minutes later Hamilton capped the flurry of ultra-soft efforts at the end of the opening half an hour with a 1m05.483s that remained unbeaten as drivers switched to race preparation.
Both the Red Bulls outpaced Raikkonen, Max Verstappen beating Daniel Ricciardo to fourth despite missing most of the opening half an hour with a brake problem.
Magnussen jumped to seventh just before the halfway mark, while Fernando Alonso also switched to ultra-softs later than most to claim eighth – though he had a trip through the Turn 6 gravel that caused him to spin in the final 10 minutes.
Nico Hulkenberg returned to the seat of his Renault for FP2 and went ninth-fastest, but team-mate Jolyon Palmer completed just seven laps and spent most of the session in the pitlane as the team worked on his RS17.
Toro Rosso drivers Carlos Sainz Jr and Daniil Kvyat also had their session end prematurely, Sainz after damaging the car running wide at Turn 9 and Kvyat with a brake problem.
Sauber was detached at the foot of the times, Pascal Wehrlein beating a frustrated Marcus Ericsson, who had a spin at Turn 1, a trip through the gravel at the downhill Turn 4 and went off at Turn 9 as well.
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m05.832s||0.349s||33|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m05.873s||0.390s||27|
|11||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m06.849s||1.366s||50|
|13||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m06.906s||1.423s||34|
|15||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m07.100s||1.617s||24|
|17||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m07.509s||2.026s||41|
Lewis Hamilton leads Austrian Grand Prix practice with record lap
Mercedes Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton set the fastest-ever lap around the Red Bull Ring to top opening practice for the Austrian Grand Prix.
The three-time F1 world champion used soft tyres, the hardest of the three compounds available this weekend, to clock a 1m05.975s.
That was just over two tenths faster than the circuit’s previous fastest lap, which Hamilton set in the second part of qualifying last year.
It also put him three tenths clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who used super-soft tyres to leapfrog Valtteri Bottas late on and deny Mercedes a one-two.
Verstappen had set the session’s first benchmark, a 1m08.429s, and that early effort on softs kept him on top until the Mercedes drivers emerged on ultra-softs 25 minutes into the session.
Bottas won that initial civil war on a 1m06.845s, before Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel joined the fight on the half-hour mark.
Vettel recovered from a spin after hitting the inside kerb at Turn 1 to edge Bottas with a 1m06.826s, but moments later Hamilton lapped three tenths quicker than his Baku aggressor on a 1m06.526s.
After a mid-session lull Bottas bolted on super-soft tyres to jump to first on a 1m06.345s, before Hamilton set a series of fast laps on soft tyres.
He claimed top spot from Bottas with a 1m06.329s then improved again to his session-best 1m05.975s.
Verstappen improved twice in the final 10 minutes to jump to third and then second, ahead of Bottas, and had posted the fastest first sector of the session before a spin at the tight Turn 3 at the top of the hill in the final minute.
He had also clipped the wall on the outside of the Turn 6 gravel trap half an hour into the session after a sideways moment, causing light damage to his right-rear wheel.
Bottas suffered a late spin and wound up third fastest, 0.370s slower than Hamilton after failing to improve on his super-soft lap, with Vettel a further tenth back in fourth.
Daniel Ricciardo failed to match Verstappen’s pace and was 0.6s behind Hamilton in sixth, just ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, who also spun at Turn 1, and Stoffel Vandoorne, who used ultra-soft tyres to star in his McLaren.
Force India reserve driver Alfonso Celis Jr substituted for Sergio Perez to take part in his first practice session of the season.
Celis was 1.7s slower than team-mate Esteban Ocon and wound up 18th fastest, ahead of the two Saubers.
Sergey Sirotkin also replaced a 2017 regular, driving Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault for his third appearance of the year.
The Russian reserve was 17th quickest, 0.9s slower than Jolyon Palmer in the sister RS17.
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m06.165s||0.190s||23|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m06.620s||0.645s||32|
|8||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m07.437s||1.462s||31|
|10||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m07.511s||1.536s||39|
|13||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m07.633s||1.658s||32|
|18||Alfonso Celis||Force India/Mercedes||1m09.280s||3.305s||15|
Kimi had a slightly more troublesome day, but in the end he was not worried about the remainder of the weekend: “It was a very normal day, trying different solutions and seeing how they went. We struggled a bit with some things, but we know what is going on and we should be able to fix it. It was one of those Fridays, not great and not bad either. Obviously it could have been a bit better and straightforward, but it’s only the first day of practice. I don’t think it will be very difficult with tires as long as we do the normal things; it’s a very similar story as any other race. Now we have to go through everything and improve for tomorrow”.
Lewis Hamilton recovers to take Azerbaijan Grand Prix pole
Lewis Hamilton recovered from free practice troubles to claim a commanding pole position in qualifying for Formula 1’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, beating Valtteri Bottas in a Mercedes one-two.
The fight at the front looked close with Ferrari and Red Bull in practice, but Mercedes enjoyed a large advantage over its F1 competition when it came to qualifying.
Hamilton struggled particularly on Friday and was only third fastest in final practice earlier on Saturday, but turned it on when it really mattered at the Baku city circuit.
He was the only driver to lap under 1m42s in Q1 and was comfortably fastest with a single run in Q2 as well.
He let Bottas get briefly ahead during the initial runs in Q3, after locking up and running wide at Turn 16 near the end of his quickest lap, before Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull hit the wall at the Turn 6 right-hander, bringing out the red flags and spoiling a potentially faster lap for Hamilton.
That incident turned the session into a one flying lap dash once the wreckage was cleared, and Hamilton pulled out a stunning effort on his final run to claim pole by almost half a second from Bottas.
Both Ferraris struggled in qualifying, with Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel taking to the escape road at Turn 3 during their first runs.
Raikkonen recovered best to claim third on the grid, but over six tenths of a second down on the second Mercedes.
Vettel was fourth in the sister Ferrari, fractionally ahead of the surviving Red Bull of Max Verstappen.
Sergio Perez pipped Force India team-mate Esteban Ocon by less than a tenth of a second to complete the top six, while Lance Stroll narrowly outqualified Williams team-mate Felipe Massa for the first time to claim a career-best eighth on the grid.
Ricciardo ended up slowest in Q3 following his crash.
The pace of the top five teams ensured there wasn’t much of a fight to make it through to Q3.
The Toro Rossos of Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr weren’t fast enough to challenge the Williams and Force Indias, but were comfortably quick enough to outpace Kevin Magnussen’s Haas (even with the benefit of an aerodynamic tow from Sainz), Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault – which lost power after only one run in Q2 – and Pascal Wehrlein’s Sauber, which the Mercedes junior driver heroically dragged into the top 15.
A last-ditch effort from Magnussen ensured a Haas made it through to Q2 at the expense of Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-Honda, which ended up 16th quickest, retrofitted with a ‘spec 2’ engine, and just 0.017s shy of beating Wehrlein’s Sauber into Q2.
Alonso is set to drop to the rear of the grid thanks to his 40-place grid penalty for various engine component changes, which will elevate Romain Grosjean’s Haas and the second Sauber of Marcus Ericsson.
The other McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne was slowest of those that ran in qualifying, 0.235s adrift of Ericsson, and will also cop a hefty grid penalty – including five places for an unscheduled gearbox change after final practice.
Jolyon Palmer was classified last in the session, without a lap time to his name. He sat out qualifying after a high-pressure fuel leak caused his Renault to cook itself during the early stages of practice three.
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m41.879s||1.286s|
|6||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m42.111s||1.518s|
|7||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m42.186s||1.593s|
|10||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m43.414s||2.821s|
|11||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m43.186s||–|
|15||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m43.347s||–|
Valtteri Bottas fastest for Mercedes in final Baku F1 practice
Valtteri Bottas edged out Kimi Raikkonen to lead final free practice for Formula 1’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku, as both Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen had problems.
Bottas clocked a 1m42.742s on the super-soft Pirelli tyres in his Mercedes as he finished 0.095 seconds clear of Ferrari driver Raikkonen.
The second Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, who had a wild moment at the narrow Turn 8, was three tenths further back in third.
Bottas set the early pace on the soft tyre, heading Raikkonen by almost four tenths of a second.
When teams turned their attention to qualifying-simulations on the super-soft tyres, Hamilton and Bottas traded fastest laps.
Hamilton was unhappy with his tyres throughout but Bottas enjoyed a more straightforward session and gradually improved his times over several laps.
Championship leader Vettel had a frustrating session, managing just seven laps and ending his running early when Ferrari called him in after spotting "an issue" it later said was a hydraulic problem.
Vettel did not manage to complete a low-fuel run and finished 12th overall.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo popped in a quick lap late on to finish fourth, half a second off the pace, with team-mate Verstappen sixth.
Verstappen, who topped both sessions on Friday, was on-course to be in the top three before he stopped out on track in the closing stages reporting "everything just switched off".
Red Bull said Verstappen’s failure was also a hydraulic issue.
Esteban Ocon was the leading Force India in fifth with Felipe Massa, who narrowly avoided contact at Turn 8, seventh.
Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was eighth, ahead of Lance Stroll, as Sergio Perez completed the top 10.
Nico Hulkenberg was 11th, while his Renault team-mate Jolyon Palmer failed to set a representative time after stopping on track early on with a fire at the rear of the car.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso was 14th, two places and half a second clear of team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, with both set to start from the back after heavy grid penalties for engine changes.
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m43.287s||0.545s||24|
|5||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m43.344s||0.602s||21|
|6||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m43.614s||0.872s||16|
|8||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m43.908s||1.166s||21|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m44.138s||1.396s||22|
|13||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m44.401s||1.659s||23|