Session: Qualifying

Location: Baku City Circuit, Azerbaijan

Race Weekend: Formula 1 Socar Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2019

Azerbaijan always brings us action and even though yesterday’s Friday Practice (FP1) was red-flagged, today we had much more action with two accidents happening – IN EXACTLY THE SAME PLACE! (Turn 8)

Whilst Ferrari looked strong yesterday – especially Charles Leclerc, one lockup/mistake from him cost his Qualifying position which seemed likely to be pole. This gave his team-mate the opportunity to take pole however Mercedes managed to secure the front row with a 1-2 and Valtteri Bottas on pole position for the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix!

Let’s take a look at what drivers had to say following Qualifying along with photos from the F1 paddock today…



Valtteri Bottas: “This pole feels really good – the entire team did a great job today and we saw early on in the Qualifying that the Ferrari’s were very quick as they have been throughout the weekend. As the track was evolving and cooling down, our car was behaving better and better so it was good that everything came together – that’s what really counted.”

“As we have seen in the past, anything can happen around this track so staying out of trouble is going to be important. Race pace is going to be crucial as well as it’s relatively easy to overtake on this track and I think that’s going to be an exciting race tomorrow. I have a bit of unfinished business here in Baku from last year – so, I’ll give it my best tomorrow.”


Lewis Hamilton: “We didn’t think that we would be quick enough to lock out the front row here. Charles in particular has been very strong all weekend. We’ve made improvements and we thought we’d get to within one or two tenths but not quite make it. I’m really proud of everyone in the team that we did it.”

“This is one of the toughest and challenging Qualifying sessions and circuits of the season but I really enjoy the challenge. I’ve struggled at this track in the past so I’m grateful to be on the front row. I was really close to getting pole today and with my first lap in Q3 – it was actually quite good but on my second lap, I lost three tenths in the first two corners and while I did make up the most of it – it wasn’t enough for pole.”

“I’m happy in one respect but on the other hand disappointed because I could have taken pole today – I’ll try and make a difference tomorrow, that’s going to be important and our long run pace looked good but there are usually lots of Safety Cars here so lots can happen in a race.”

Toto Wolff: “The longer the Qualifying session took today, the better our performance looked. It’s really tricky to get the tyre temperatures in the right window and we were struggling with that all weekend long. When the ambience and the track temperatures dropped towards the end of the session, our car started behaving much better than it had all weekend long.”

“We gained relative performance the longer the session went on and by the end of Q3 – the competitive order had changed. We didn’t expect so many cars going out right with us at the end of Q3 so we were bunched up behind them and both Lewis’ and Valtteri’s outlaps were compromised. As a result, both of them struggled and Lewis lost a lot of time in the beginning of his final lap but it was enough to lock out the front row.”

“It’s relatively easy to overtake here in Baku so race pace is going to be the key tomorrow.”



Sebastian Vettel: “It was a tough call in the end. When the track temperature dropped the car balance changed and getting the tyres to work for that one lap, especially after such a long straight before starting the lap, was not easy. With the clock ticking down, everybody was banking on the last run and getting a tow so at some point I had to make the call; do I prioritise my tyres or the tow? Which would have meant compromising the outlap and I didn’t have the feeling that I could afford that and I wanted to have a clean shot.”

“My first Q3 run was ok, but on the second run I didn’t have anybody to tow me along, so I dealt with it just focusing on my lap and obviously I lost quite a lot, about four tenths, compared to the previous lap. But that’s what happens at this track. It was a tricky session.”

“I saw Charles in the barrier and realised qualifying was over for him. It was a shame to lose one of our cars. In the end, we are one team and everybody is working extremely hard no matter which side of the garage you are on. Anyway, we need to turn the page as tomorrow is a new day and it’s a long race where anything can happen. As a team we can recover and put our rivals under pressure. Overall I feel we have a strong car so we can go and race hard and should have some fun.”


Charles Leclerc: “I am disappointed with myself. Our pace was good all weekend and we expected to have a positive qualifying result. My first lap in Q2 was very good considering we were on Mediums, but then I made a driving error on the second lap.”

“I just didn’t do the job. The team and all the people supporting us out there deserved much more. Tomorrow is a new day. I will stay positive and push to do the best job possible in the race.”

Mattia Binotto – Ferrari Team Principal

“We are not happy about the outcome of Qualifying – I think our car was performing well today and throughout the weekend so we could have certainly achieved a much better result. The upgrades we brought here have worked well and we are happy with the way that they are behaving.”

“Sebastian improved run after run and found the best feeling with the car right on his last attempt. This is such a peculiar track and had he found a better feeling before, he could have done a better job.”

“Charles on the other hand will be one of the very few top ten starting on the Medium tyres and he can still have a great race – he was very fast today and he can be very fast tomorrow as well. It has been a real shame that his Qualifying ended at Turn 8 but these things happen when you push to the limit.”



Max Verstappen: “We were positively surprised that we were so competitive in qualifying and the second row of the grid is not bad. Everything was going quite smoothly, but in Q3 we were running a different strategy as I only had one set of tyres so I was on my own.”

“Around this track it is very painful to be on your own and you of course lose lap time to others who have a tow. Even compared to my own lap in Q2 I was losing around two and a half tenths on the main straight. You can also gain a tenth or two on the other straights having a car six or seven seconds ahead as you get sucked in and these cars have so much drag. I pushed everything I could out of my final lap and it was pretty good.”

“I think we could have fought for pole if we were in that train of cars, but at least we know the car is working well. It’s always a crazy one here and for sure the race won’t be won at Turn 1. It’s all pretty close and from fourth we can still fight for the race.”


Pierre Gasly: “It was nice to end Q1 in P1 but knowing we’re starting from the pit lane tomorrow, the most important thing was just to get a feel of the car on low fuel. It felt really good and it’s probably the first time this year I’ve felt that good in the car, so I’m really happy. I felt confident and I’m always working and trying to adapt myself, and it’s working step by step.”

“I think we’re going in the right direction and overall it was a positive qualifying session. We didn’t expect that kind of pace because we didn’t turn the power unit up, we went into race mode to save some engine mileage and in the end the performance was good. I think we have a good car here and I was hoping Max would get a good result in Q3.”

“This race track is just insane with all the things that can happen so I will race flat out until the last lap. We have a car good enough to recover and score good points tomorrow, so I will push for it.”

Christian Horner – Team Principal

“It was an interesting qualifying today after several red flags and Pierre did a very good job to go fastest in Q1. Max unfortunately flat spotted a tyre so needed to run again in Q1, which reduced the number of tyres available to him later in qualifying, but nonetheless we finished Q1 first and fourth.”

“In Q2, we elected not to run Pierre as he will start tomorrow’s race from the pit lane due to his weigh bridge penalty, but Max was able to go quickest during the session. After the delay following Leclerc’s incident, Q3 finally got underway and with one set of tyres available, the best approach was quick-slow-quick which put Max out of sync with the drivers that had two sets remaining. Whilst he had the benefit of having a clear lap, he unfortunately didn’t have a tow as it would have been impossible to synchronise the different run strategies from the other teams.”

“Overall, it was a strong qualifying with Max starting on the second row and Pierre’s time in Q1 would have put him sixth on the grid. A really encouraging display from Pierre and we now look forward to tomorrow’s race.”



Robert Kubica: “At this track, you pay a high price for a relatively small mistake – I knew it before I came here and unfortunately, that’s just how it is. It was not a huge impact but the doctors had to do the usual precautions and I am OK.”

“I turned in too soon and clipped the wall at turn eight which launched me to the outside of the next corner which is the narrowest point on the Formula One Calendar. The temperature is not helping us but this today, was a driver mistake and we will evaluate the car for damage.”


George Russell: “I went into qualifying quite blind after missing out on the running yesterday. Baku is a circuit that requires a lot of confidence for you to maintain your momentum. From personal perspective – I felt comfortable during Qualifying and managed to get the most out of the package.”

“It’s been a tough weekend and it will be a long race tomorrow but we must stay positive and keep making the most of the situation.”

Dave Robson – Senior Race Engineer : “Although we managed to only gather limited data from yesterday’s running, we were able to make improvements for the car overnight. The mechanics having done an excellent job of getting the spare chassis ready for George, we were able to use both cars to conduct some further experiments in FP3.”

“Unfortunately, Robert touched the wall at Turn 8 on his final flying lap – this los him the opportunity to maximise his Qualifying performance and we are now assessing the damage done to Robert’s car but expect to be able to make the necessary changes before tomorrow’s race.”




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The Formula 1 Girl 🙂

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