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F1 European GP: Hamilton crash hands Rosberg Baku pole

An error-strewn qualifying performance ends in a crash for Lewis Hamilton, handing pole position to title rival Nico Rosberg in Baku.
CLICK HERE for full European Grand Prix Qualifying results

Nico Rosberg will start the first F1 race to be held in Azerbaijan from pole position after an error-strewn performance by Lewis Hamilton ended with him clipping Baku's increasingly notorious walls to leave him tenth.

On a weekend that has seen Hamilton largely dominate in free practice for Mercedes, despite a number of offs as he found the limit of the circuit, he would endure a woeful qualifying session by out-braking himself to a stop in Q2 and Q3 before ending his session entirely when he clipped the inside wall at T10.

Prompting a red flag period, with no quick lap time on the board after running on at T15 on his first lap, the light but critical contact at the right-hand kink – similar to that of Max Verstappen in qualifying at Monaco – was enough to break his suspension and leave him out of the running.

As a result, the title chaser will start tenth on the grid, while championship leader Rosberg inherits pole position, the W07 showing its true rapid pace when it mattered as he ended up a full eight tenths clear of Sergio Perez.

A confidence-boosting but otherwise galling result for the Mexican, though it marks a career-best performance in isolation, a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change – the result of damage from a crash in FP3 – means he will get away from seventh.

As such, Daniel Ricciardo will start from the front row, the Australian confounding pre-race expectations that Red Bull would struggle as he produced a fine lap in a last gasp effort following the red flag period, grabbing third on the leaderboard with exactly the same time as Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen ensure an all-Ferrari second row in third and fourth, with Felipe Massa bouncing back from an average performance in free practice to emerge as Williams' leading contender in sixth place, which becomes fifth.

Indeed, his team-mate Valtteri Bottas had looked like a potential front row contender in Hamilton's absence – despite failing to lap in FP3 – but would twice lose time when he came up against a Red Bull in T1 on his best lap. He starts eighth, behind Daniil Kvyat, getting a good qualifying result on the board for Toro Rosso to go seventh – which becomes sixth - and out-qualifying ninth place Max Verstappen.

Further back, having shown so well in free practice, Nico Hulkenberg was the surprise casualty of a closely-matched Q2, the German spinning at T16 on his first flying lap before erroneously pitting when he believed he had enough time for another run in the closing stages.

As such, the German – who was third quickest in FP3 – will start 12th, behind Romain Grosjean, who equalled his and Haas' best qualifying performance of 2016 in 11th.

Out-qualified by team-mate Kvyat, Carlos Sainz will start 13th, with Fernando Alonso down in 14th ahead of Esteban Gutierrez and Felipe Nasr as McLaren's promising free practice form failed to materialise when it mattered in qualifying.

Nevertheless, Alonso – who complained of traffic in Q2 – still fared considerably better than Jenson Button, who not only failed to make it past Q1 but was out-qualified by Rio Haryanto and Pascal Wehrlein, the trio starting 17th, 18th and 19th.

Arguably the strongest qualifying performance yet by the minnow Manor team in F1, Button wasn't their only scalp and Renault flopped with Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer locking out the back row in 21st and 22nd.
by Ollie Barstow

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Ricciardo, Rosberg, Perez
George Russell - Mercedes AMG Petronas
23.06.2017 - Free Practice 2, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
23.06.2017 - Free Practice 2, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MCL32
23.06.2017 - Free Practice 2, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, detail
23.06.2017 - Press conference, Cyril Abiteboul (FRA) Renault Sport F1 Managing Director
23.06.2017 - Press conference, Robert Fernley (GBR) Sahara Force India F1 Team Deputy Team Principal, Eric Boullier (FRA) McLaren Racing Director and Cyril Abiteboul (FRA) Renault Sport F1 Managing Director
23.06.2017 - Press conference, Jock Clear (GBR) Ferrari Engineering Director and Rob Smedley (GBR) Williams Head of Vehicle Performance
23.06.2017 - Free Practice 2, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
23.06.2017 - Free Practice 2, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
23.06.2017 - Free Practice 2, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
23.06.2017 - Free Practice 2, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
23.06.2017 - Free Practice 2, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB13
23.06.2017 - Free Practice 2, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
23.06.2017 - Free Practice 2, Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren MCL32
23.06.2017 - Press conference, Jock Clear (GBR) Ferrari Engineering Director
23.06.2017 - Press conference, Rob Smedley (GBR) Williams Head of Vehicle Performance

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June 18, 2016 3:25 PM

God this headline winds me up!! Hamilton handed NOTHING to Rosberg. Rosberg TOOK pole position because he was better and faster. Hamilton was slower than Rosberg AT ALL TIMES during qualifying. Can the media big Hamilton up anymore??????


June 18, 2016 4:06 PM

Rosberg went out there and Earned the Pole position. His Qualy lap was nearly perfect. How about an article with the headline reading, "Mercedes gave Hamilton the perfect car and the edge over Rosberg, and Hamilton F***d it up"?

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