Hamilton resists Vettel challenge to win Belgian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton beat his Formula 1 title rival Sebastian Vetel in the Belgian Grand Prix to reduce the gap in the championship to seven points.

The Mercedes driver managed a late safety car and a tyre disadvantage to fend off the Ferrari with relative ease, as Daniel Ricciardo claimed a surprise third for Red Bull Racing.

Hamilton made a good start from pole position and built a 1.7-seconds lead before stopping for new soft tyres on lap 12 of 44.

Vettel ran two laps longer in the opening stint and rejoined two seconds behind Hamilton, who cleared Kimi Raikkonen the lap before Vettel pitted.

A great first full flying lap for Vettel took 1.2 seconds out of Hamilton’s lead and thrust the Ferrari into DRS range, but Hamilton responded immediately.

He built his advantage up to two seconds, before a safety car changed the complexion of the race entirely.

Force India duo Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez had clashed on the run to Eau Rouge on the opening lap, then came together in more dramatic fashion on lap 29.

Fighting over seventh position, Ocon cut back on his team-mate exiting La Source, only for Perez to edge across and break Ocon’s front wing with his right-rear tyre.

That caused Perez’s tyre to deflate entering Eau Rouge and the pair littered the track with debris.

The field swapped tyres under the safety car period, with Hamilton taking softs to Vettel’s ultra-softs and then complaining over the radio as the safety car remained on track for three laps.

Vettel was tucked up underneath the Mercedes’ rear wing through Eau Rouge and Raidillon at the restart and pulled alongside as Hamilton defended on the run to Les Combes.

Somehow Hamilton hung on, and found enough speed on the slower tyre to bump Vettel out of DRS range and gradually extend his lead until the end to win by 2.3 seconds.

Ricciardo started the race sixth but made his way to the podium, at a track not suited to the Renault-powered Red Bull, with a blend of fortune and opportunism.

Max Verstappen suffered a mechanical problem early on and stopped at the side of the track exiting Eau Rouge, which handed Ricciardo fifth – and ultimately fourth as well.

Kimi Raikkonen failed to slow sufficiently under the yellow flags that were thrown while Verstappen’s car was recovered and had to serve a ten-second stop-go penalty.

That meant Ricciardo ran fourth under the late safety car, and used a slipstream and ultra-soft tyres at the restart to nail Valtteri Bottas’s soft-shod Mercedes into Les Combes.

Raikkonen dived inside Bottas at the same time to recover to fourth, as Bottas finished a muted fifth having run comfortably in third before the caution.

Nico Hulkenberg finished best of the rest for Renault with a quiet but excellent drive, while Romain Grosjean and Felipe Massa took advantage of the messy race to claim seventh and eighth.

Ocon, who labelled Perez a “f***ing idiot” over the radio, recovered to ninth as Perez eventually retired, while Carlos Sainz Jr took the final point.

Fernando Alonso ran as high as seventh but gradually fell back down the order and eventually retired with an engine problem in his McLaren-Honda.

Belgian Grand Prix race result:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    44    1h24m42.820s
2    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    44    2.358s
3    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    44    10.791s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    44    14.471s
5    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    44    16.456s
6    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    44    28.087s
7    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    44    23h35m17.s
8    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    44    23h35m17.s
9    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    44    23h35m17.s
10    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    44    23h35m17.s
11    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    44    23h35m17.s
12    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    44    23h35m17.s
13    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    44    23h35m17.s
14    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    44    23h35m17.s
15    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    44    23h35m17.s
16    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    44    23h35m17.s
17    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    42    Not running
–    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    25    Retirement
–    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    7    Retirement
–    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    2    Retirement

Drivers’ standings:

1    Sebastian Vettel    220
2    Lewis Hamilton    213
3    Valtteri Bottas    179
4    Daniel Ricciardo    132
5    Kimi Raikkonen    128
6    Max Verstappen    67
7    Sergio Perez    56
8    Esteban Ocon    47
9    Carlos Sainz    36
10    Nico Hulkenberg    34
11    Felipe Massa    27
12    Romain Grosjean    24
13    Lance Stroll    18
14    Kevin Magnussen    11
15    Fernando Alonso    10
16    Pascal Wehrlein    5
17    Daniil Kvyat    4
18    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
19    Jolyon Palmer    0
20    Marcus Ericsson    0
21    Antonio Giovinazzi    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    392
2    Ferrari    348
3    Red Bull-Renault    199
4    Force India-Mercedes    103
5    Williams-Mercedes    45
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    40
7    Haas-Ferrari    35
8    Renault    34
9    McLaren-Honda    11
10    Sauber-Ferrari    5

Hamilton equals Schumacher’s pole position record at Spa

Lewis Hamilton equals Michael Schumacher’s record tally of 68 career poles with a commanding performance in qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps.

The Mercedes driver impressively broke through the one minute, 43 seconds barrier for the first time in Q2, and repeated the feat on his first run in Q3, leading Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas by more than three tenths of a second.

Hamilton found even more speed on his second Q3 run, taking pole with a brilliant one minute, 42.553 seconds effort.

Vettel’s Ferrari languished in fourth after the first runs in Q3, but the world championship leader pulled things together on his second run, taking a tow from team-mate Raikkonen in the final sector to beat Bottas to the front row.

Vettel’s one minute, 42.795 seconds lap made him the only driver other than Hamilton to lap below one minute, 43 seconds.

Bottas improved to a one minute, 43.094 seconds best on his own final run, but struggled in the middle sector compared to his team-mate and ended up relegated to the second row.

Raikkonen held a provisional front row spot after the first runs in Q3, despite suffering unexplained vibrations from the rear of his Ferrari throughout qualifying, but “f***** it up” on his final Q3 run so aborted the lap and dropped to fourth.

Max Verstappen was best of the Red Bulls in fifth, almost half a second clear of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, while Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault comfortably beat the Force Indias of Sergio Perez – who complained of a loss of grip in Q3 – and Esteban Ocon to seventh.

Renault’s Jolyon Palmer looked set to qualify best of the rest behind the top three teams after setting the seventh quickest time in Q2, but he broke down at the exit of Stavelot on his out-lap in Q3, after losing gearbox oil pressure, so wound up P10.

Fernando Alonso missed out on the final Q3 spot by 0.084 seconds, despite the efforts of team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne to give Alonso a tow along the Kemmel Straight on Alonso’s final flying lap.

Alonso then aborted the attempt, complaining of “no power” from his Honda engine at the exit of Pouhon over team radio.

Romain Grosjean found more than three tenths on his second Q2 run, but that was only good enough for P12, ahead of Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen – who went slower on his second attempt – and the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr.

Grosjean felt he lost downforce behind Vandoorne’s pitting McLaren in the final sector, without which he felt he might have made the top ten.

Vandoorne was P15, but didn’t set a time in Q2 and will drop to the back of the grid with a 65-place penalty for two illegal engine changes earlier in the weekend.

This was a disastrous Spa weekend for Williams with both cars dropping out in Q1. Felipe Massa fell less than a tenth short of making the cut after a late improvement, knocked out by a better one from Sainz’s Toro Rosso.

Massa ended up P16, but will drop back thanks to a five-place grid penalty for ignoring double waved yellow flags in final practice.

Daniil Kvyat was P17 for Toro Rosso, almost seven tenths adrift of Sainz, complaining he had “no reference” after breaking down with an engine problem in the morning session. Kvyat will take a 20-place grid penalty for requiring an engine, turbo and MGU-H change before qualifying.

Massa’s Williams team-mate Lance Stroll was P18, but didn’t venture out for a second run in Q1 due to a rear wing problem.

Marcus Ericsson won the private battle of the Saubers to avoid being slowest of all in qualifying, beating team-mate Pascal Wehrlein to P19 by 0.465 seconds. Both will take grid penalties for gearbox changes.

So an excellent qualifying performance by Lewis Hamilton. Pole position was important for the Formula 1 title challenger and to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 68 is remarkable.

Belgian Grand Prix, qualifying results:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m42.553s
2    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m42.795s
3    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m43.094s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m43.270s
5    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m43.380s
6    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m43.863s
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m44.982s
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m45.244s
9    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1m45.369s
10    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    –
11    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m45.090s
12    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m45.133s
13    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1m45.400s
14    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m45.439s
15    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    –
16    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m45.823s
17    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m46.028s
18    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1m46.915s
19    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m47.214s
20    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1m47.679s

Vettel resisted big pressure to win Hungarian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel held off his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen to score a tense Hungarian Grand Prix victory, as Lewis Hamilton handed Valtteri Bottas third and the Red Bulls collided.

Vettel, who drove most of the race with steering issues, crossed the finishing line 0.9 seconds ahead of Raikkonen to secure Ferrari’s second one-two of the 2017 Formula 1 season.

Hamilton gave up third position to Bottas on the final lap as agreed after his Mercedes team-mate had let him through under team orders earlier in the race to try to attack the Ferraris.

Vettel’s fourth win of the season, and first since Monaco in May, extends his championship lead to 14 points over Hamilton heading into the summer break.

Vettel and Raikkonen stayed one-two after the start, with the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen swarming the Mercedes of Bottas and Hamilton.

Verstappen got around the outside of Hamilton with a bold move into Turn 1, but ran wide on the exit and then came under pressure from Ricciardo.

Verstappen locked up into Turn 2 and ran into Ricciardo, causing damage to the left-hand side of his team-mate’s Red Bull but escaping unharmed himself.

Ricciardo, who was furious with Verstappen on the radio, dropped down the field and then spun at Turn 3, with fluid leaking from his car, forcing Jolyon Palmer off track to avoid contact.

He then pulled over to the side of the track and retired, bringing out the safety car.

The stewards deemed Verstappen to be at fault, imposing a ten-second time penalty.

Vettel led comfortably from Raikkonen in the first stint but then started reporting steering concerns.

As the Mercedes started closing on the Ferraris, Raikkonen called on his team to ask Vettel, who was struggling to turn in, to cede position but the request was not accepted.

Mercedes agreed to Hamilton’s similar request with Bottas, that the positions will get swapped back if Hamilton could not pass Raikkonen.

Once through, Hamilton was soon on Raikkonen’s gearbox and was told he had five laps of full power to make an overtake.

That deadline was extended but Hamilton could not get through and gave up the chase in the closing laps.

Verstappen had run long before his pitstop and led for a spell before the penalty dropped him back.

He rapidly closed on the lead top four in the final stages and began to attack Bottas, raising doubts over whether Mercedes would be able to swap its cars back.

But Hamilton lifted off on the final lap, allowing Bottas through then slotting back in just ahead of Verstappen, as Raikkonen shadowed Vettel to the flag in front.

Fernando Alonso scored McLaren-Honda’s best finish of the season with sixth, setting fastest lap right at the end, while Stoffel Vandoorne gave it two cars in the points with tenth.

Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr was seventh after a controversial early wheel-banging battle with Alonso, just ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon.

Grosjean, who made contact with Nico Hulkenberg and Marcus Ericsson at the start, was forced to pull over and retire his Haas when a wheelnut was cross-threaded at his pitstop.

The unwell Felipe Massa’s stand-in Paul di Resta spent his first Formula 1 race since 2013 battling with the Saubers before Williams told him to retire late on due to an oil leak.

After dropping back in his first-corner clash with Grosjean, Hulkenberg looked set to regain ground by running long only for a problem in his pitstop to drop him back.

He was then forced off the road while trying to pass Kevin Magnussen, who was given a 5s penalty for the move, for P11 and retired just as he had caught back up to Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat.

So a brilliant result for Scuderia Ferrari at the Hungaroring. Sebastian Vettel’s 50th race in red was victory number seven this season and he now extends his lead in the championship to 14 points as the sport take a summer break.

Hungarian Grand Prix, race results after 70 laps:

1    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1h39m46.713s
2    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    0.908s
3    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    12.462s
4    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    12.885s
5    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    13.276s
6    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m11.223s
7    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1 Lap
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
9    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
10    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1 Lap
11    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1 Lap
12    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1 Lap
13    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1 Lap
14    Lance Stroll    Williams/Mercedes    1 Lap
15    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber/Ferrari    2 Laps
16    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber/Ferrari    2 Laps
17    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    3 Laps
–    Paul Di Resta    Williams-Mercedes    Retirement
–    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    Retirement
–    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    Collision
–    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    Withdrawn

Drivers’ standings:

1    Sebastian Vettel    202
2    Lewis Hamilton    188
3    Valtteri Bottas    169
4    Daniel Ricciardo    117
5    Kimi Raikkonen    116
6    Max Verstappen    67
7    Sergio Perez    56
8    Esteban Ocon    45
9    Carlos Sainz    35
10    Nico Hulkenberg    26
11    Felipe Massa    23
12    Lance Stroll    18
13    Romain Grosjean    18
14    Kevin Magnussen    11
15    Fernando Alonso    10
16    Pascal Wehrlein    5
17    Daniil Kvyat    4
18    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
19    Jolyon Palmer    0
20    Marcus Ericsson    0
21    Antonio Giovinazzi    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    357
2    Ferrari    318
3    Red Bull-Renault    184
4    Force India-Mercedes    101
5    Williams-Mercedes    41
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    39
7    Haas-Ferrari    29
8    Renault    26
9    McLaren-Honda    11
10    Sauber-Ferrari    5

Vettel breaks Hungaroring lap record to earn 48th career pole

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel achieved his 48th career pole position in Formula 1 and led a Scuderia Ferrari one-two at the Hungaroring.

Vettel was fastest in final practice earlier, leading the way in Q1, and was the first driver to lap under under one minute, 17 seconds in Q2, before Hamilton made a second run.

The four-time champion then set a time of one minute, 16.276 seconds best on his first run in Q3 to take pole, which proved enough to get the job done despite Vettel lapping slightly slower on his second attempt.

Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen snatched a brake at Turn 1 on his first run in Q3 so was down in fifth, but The Iceman improved dramatically on his second run to leap into second position, within two tenths of Vettel’s mark.

Hamilton went off at the fast Turn 4 on his first run in Q2 and did so again in Q3. He struggled for grip throughout qualifying, complained of vibrations through the tyres, and ultimately wound up only fourth quickest, more than four tenths of a second off the pace.

Mercedes struggled in the first sector of the lap compared to Ferrari and Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas was only third fastest, 0.163 seconds clear of Hamilton.

Max Verstappen was second quickest in Q1 and third in Q2, but Red Bull faded from the pole position fight in Q3.

Verstappen was fifth fastest, a tenth behind Hamilton, while team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was sixth, only 0.021 seconds adrift despite missing most of final practice with a hydraulic problem.

Nico Hulkenberg lapped quicker than Ricciardo in Q2 and ended up best of the rest for Renault in seventh, just under a tenth clear of Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-Honda.

Stoffel Vandoorne made Q3 for the second race in a row and qualified ninth, three tenths behind Alonso.

Carlos Sainz Jr’s Toro Rosso rounded out the top ten.

Renault’s Jolyon Palmer was P11, missing the Q3 cut by a tenth of a second thanks to a superb final flying lap in Q2 from Sainz.

Esteban Ocon was best of the Force Indias in P12, ahead of Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso, Ocon’s Force India team-mate Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean’s Haas.

Grosjean’s Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen matched Perez to the thousandth of a second in Q1, but missed the Q2 cut by account of setting his best time later than the Force India driver.

Lance Stroll’s Williams was only 0.007 seconds further back in P17, while emergency stand-in team-mate Paul di Resta outstandingly split the Saubers of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson to qualify P19 for his first Grand Prix since 2013.

Paul di Resta achieved this despite not having driven a 2017-spec Formula 1 car before, and only turning his first laps of the weekend in qualifying after Felipe Massa fell ill in final practice.

The former Force India racer gradually worked down to a time 0.766 seconds slower than Stroll, only 0.029 seconds slower than Wehrlein, and over a tenth clear of Ericsson. Williams rightly called this a “fantastic job” in difficult circumstances.

The Sauber drivers ended up more than seven tenths adrift of Stroll’s Williams, despite planning to run their year-old Ferrari engines at full power for the first time this season, after having cooling updates fitted to the cars.

So a fantastic result for Ferrari. A front row lock-out for the red cars. Sebastian Vettel is in prime spot to extend his championship lead but never discount Lewis Hamilton. Despite qualifying in fourth position, the Mercedes is still the car to beat. Bring on the racing action.

Hungarian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:

1    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m16.276s
2    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m16.444s
3    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m16.530s
4    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m16.693s
5    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m16.797s
6    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m16.818s
7    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m17.549s
8    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1m17.894s
9    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m18.311s
10    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m18.415s
11    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1m18.495s
12    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m17.468s
13    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m18.538s
14    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m18.639s
15    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m18.771s
16    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1m19.095s
17    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1m19.102s
18    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1m19.839s
19    Paul Di Resta      Williams-Mercedes    1m19.868s
20    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m19.972s

Hamilton scores British Grand Prix victory as Ferrari hit puncture trouble

Lewis Hamilton was victorious at Silverstone after a dominant drive and with a late drama for his championship rival, the Mercedes star has slashed the points gap to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to a single digit.

Hamilton led from lights to flag, crossing the line 14 seconds ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen completing the British Grand Prix podium.

There was late drama as Raikkonen and Vettel suffered front left tyre problems with three and two laps to go respectively, when running second and fourth.

Raikkonen pitted and rejoined to take third with Vettel – who had reported blistering after a big lock-up – falling right back to seventh position as he had to drive further on his wrecked tyre.

It was Hamilton’s fourth victory of the season, his fourth consecutive British Grand Prix win and fifth Formula 1 triumph at Silverstone.

At the start, Raikkonen challenged Hamilton into the first corner, but the leader held firm and set about building an advantage.

Vettel made a slow start, slipping behind Verstappen before retaking the position only for the Red Bull driver to go back past around him on the outside at the Loop.

The race was neutralised when the safety car was deployed to clear debris after Daniil Kvyat ran wide onto the grass, lost control and hit Toro Rosso team-mate Carlos Sainz.

At the restart, Hamilton pushed clear, first holding a steady gap to Raikkonen before putting the hammer down ahead of the pitstops.

Further back, Vettel put pressure on Verstappen, attacking down the inside of Stowe, only for the Red Bull to hold on around the outside.

Verstappen managed to stay ahead under braking for Vale, squeezing Vettel wide into the chicane and prompting the Ferrari driver to raise his hand in frustration.

Vettel was the first of the frontrunners to pit, with Red Bull reacting by bringing Verstappen in next time around.

But a problem with a wheelnut delayed Verstappen, meaning he rejoined behind Vettel and did not have the pace to respond.

Raikkonen pitted soon after, with Hamilton following suit on the next lap and rejoining comfortably in the lead, ahead of Bottas, who had yet to pit having run deep on softs after starting ninth following a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

It wasn’t until lap 33 of 51 that Mercedes called in Bottas, the only driver in the top ten to start on the softs, in for the super-softs, and he rejoined fourth.

He used the fresher, softer rubber to gradually reduce the gap to Vettel and then launched an attack on the run to Club, but the Ferrari driver locked up and kept the position.

On the next lap, Bottas was much closer to Vettel on Hangar Straight and swept around the outside of Vettel with ease before they reached Stowe.

Bottas then inherited second when Raikkonen suffered the tyre issue, with Verstappen pitting late as a precaution and rejoining in fourth, ending a run of three successive retirements.

His team-mate Daniel Ricciardo produced an impressive recovery drive to take fifth, having started P19 after a series of grid penalties for engine component and gearbox changes and dropping to last early on having run into the gravel when trying to pass Kevin Magnussen.

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg equalled his best finish of the season with sixth, losing out to Ricciardo late on, but his team-mate Jolyon Palmer failed to take the start after reporting brake-by-wire and hydraulic problems on the formation lap.

Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez gave Force India an eighth double points finish in ten races with eighth and ninth ahead of Felipe Massa. They had ended up in a three-way battle that developed as they queued behind the long-running Magnussen before the Haas finally pitted.

McLaren again failed to score – although Stoffel Vandoorne was not far behind Massa in P11. Fernando Alonso retired midway through the race having got up to P14 from his back of the grid start.

So a brilliant result for the home crowd favourite. That was an important victory for Lewis Hamilton in terms of the championship.

The late race drama from Ferrari was unfortunate. Both for the drivers and team. Kimi Raikkonen was heading for second position but a puncture cost The Iceman a runner-up spot. Third was the end result.

As for Sebastian Vettel. This was a difficult race, fighting against Max Verstappen. The championship leader also suffered a puncture, much to the delight of the Silverstone crowd. Sebastian dragged his Ferrari around to take seventh.

Only a single point between the Mercedes driver and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel as the title race hots up. It’s game on for the championship.

British Grand Prix race results, 51 laps:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1h21m27.430s
2    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    14.063s
3    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    36.570s
4    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    52.125s
5    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m05.955s
6    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m08.109s
7    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m33.989s
8    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
9    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
10    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1 Lap
11    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1 Lap
12    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1 Lap
13    Romain Grosjean    Haas/Ferrari    1 Lap
14    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
15    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1 Lap
16    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1 Lap
17    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
–    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    Retirement
–    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    Collision
–    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    Not started

Drivers’ standings:

1    Sebastian Vettel    177
2    Lewis Hamilton    176
3    Valtteri Bottas    154
4    Daniel Ricciardo    117
5    Kimi Raikkonen    98
6    Max Verstappen    57
7    Sergio Perez    52
8    Esteban Ocon    43
9    Carlos Sainz    29
10    Nico Hulkenberg    26
11    Felipe Massa    23
12    Lance Stroll    18
13    Romain Grosjean    18
14    Kevin Magnussen    11
15    Pascal Wehrlein    5
16    Daniil Kvyat    4
17    Fernando Alonso    2
18    Jolyon Palmer    0
19    Marcus Ericsson    0
20    Stoffel Vandoorne    0
21    Antonio Giovinazzi    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    330
2    Ferrari    275
3    Red Bull-Renault    174
4    Force India-Mercedes    95
5    Williams-Mercedes    41
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    33
7    Haas-Ferrari    29
8    Renault    26
9    Sauber-Ferrari    5
10    McLaren-Honda    2

Hamilton on British Grand Prix pole

Home crowd favourite Lewis Hamilton claimed his fifth British Grand Prix pole position at Silverstone for Mercedes.

The British Grand Prix hero took the top spot early in the 12-minute Q3 session that decides the top ten on the grid with a lap of one minute, 27.231 seconds using the super-soft Pirellis that proved the tyre of choice for all.

That put Hamilton two tenths of a second ahead of world championship rival Sebastian Vettel, and on his second run he delivered a mighty lap of one minute, 26.600 seconds to provisionally seal his 67th pole position in F1 – now just one behind Michael Schumacher’s Formula 1 record.

Initially Hamilton was been investigated for a potential impeding incident at the end of his first run in Q3 when Haas driver Romain Grosjean complained of being held up by him at Club corner.

In the end, the race stewards came to the conclusion that while Hamilton had got in Grosjean’s way, he had not cost the Haas driver anything. So the qualifying results and pole position stands. Much to the relief of the racing fans.

Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen jumped from fourth to second on his final lap, ending up 0.547 seconds slower than Hamilton.

Vettel struggled on the first two sectors of his final lap, meaning he ended up third and two-tenths off his team-mate.

Valtteri Bottas was fourth fastest, with a lock-up at Turn 3 among the places he lost time on his second run, but has to serve a five-place penalty for a gearbox change.

Max Verstappen was fifth quickest, with Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg sixth to earn his best starting position of the 2017 season for the Enstone-based team.

The Force India duo of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon were seventh and eighth, with Stoffel Vandoorne ninth on his first appearance in Q3.

Grosjean was tenth and slowest in Q3 after first losing three tenths behind Hamilton on his first run, then only making a small improvement on his second.

Renault’s Jolyon Palmer missed out on making Q3 by less than a tenth of a second, setting P11 ahead of Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat.

Fernando Alonso proved unable to join McLaren team-mate Vandoorne in Q3, with his final flier half-a-second off and only good enough for P13.

Alonso will start at the back thanks to a 30-place grid penalty for new power unit components being introduced.

Despite this set back, Alonso did set the quickest time in Q1 thanks to smart thinking from McLaren to use the slicks as the track conditions improved.

Carlos Sainz was P14 ahead of the Williams of Felipe Massa.

Williams driver Lance Stroll was fastest of those to be eliminated in Q1 thanks to a last-gasp effort by Alonso to jump from last to first.

It started to rain 12 minutes before the session, leading to a flurry of drivers going out at the start of Q1 using a mix of intermediate and slick rubber before it emerged it was too damp for the latter.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who was fastest early on using intermediates, then stopped at Luffield reporting a loss of power, leading to the session being red flagged for five minutes.

The session got going again with ten minutes remaining, with Alonso running on intermediates but opting to pit with just enough time to bolt on super-softs and complete his out-lap before the chequered flag.

He managed to do that, crossing the line moment before the flag, leading to him taking top spot by 1.3 seconds and relegating Stroll into the dropzone. Alonso was one of only two drivers, alongside Ocon, to use slicks in Q1.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was P17 ahead of Sauber duo Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson.

Ricciardo was quickly shuffled down the timing screens, ending up P20, but is current due to start one place higher despite his five-place grid penalty for changing a gearbox because of Alonso’s drop.

So a fantastic result for Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton. A popular pole position for the Silverstone crowd favourite. Championship leader Sebastian Vettel is third on the grid but the title fight is still on. Bring on the race.

Qualifying standings, Silverstone:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m26.600s
2    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m27.147s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m27.356s
4    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m28.130s
5    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m28.856s
6    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m28.902s
7    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1m29.074s
8    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1m29.418s
9    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m29.549s
10    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m27.376s
11    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m30.193s
12    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m30.355s
13    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m31.368s
14    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m31.482s
15    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1m42.573s
16    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1m42.577s
17    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1m42.593s
18    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m42.633s
19    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m42.966s
20    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m30.600s

Bottas fends off Vettel to score second F1 victory

Valtteri Bottas fended off the challenge against Sebastian Vettel to score his second Formula 1 victory in the Austrian Grand Prix.

Mercedes driver Bottas resisted the late attack from the Ferrari to secure the win by just six tenths of a second.

Vettel has extended his championship lead to 20 points over Lewis Hamilton, who recovered well from eighth on the grid after his gearbox-change penalty but was denied a podium by Daniel Ricciardo.

Bottas made a lightning getaway from pole position to comfortably lead Vettel into the first corner, although his start was so good it prompted an investigation into whether he had jumped it.

He had to wait 20 laps to be cleared – with the review revealing his reaction to the lights changing was just 0.2 seconds – and by this time had stretched his lead to 7.6 seconds over the chasing Ferrari.

Bottas ran a long opening stint, eventually pitting on lap 41 of 71 and emerging with a reduced lead of just 2.5s seconds

Vettel engaged in a race long pursuit of Bottas and was getting close to strike but eventually falling just short.

An aggressive first lap set Ricciardo on his way to his fifth podium in a row. That’s great consistency from the Red Bull driver.

Ricciardo attacked Kimi Raikkonen into Turn 1 but had to continue the move all the way up the hill into Turn 3, eventually claiming the place and forcing the Ferrari wide in the process.

Raikkonen dropped behind Romain Grosjean’s Haas as a result of Ricciardo’s move, and it took two laps for the works Ferrari to finally make it past the customer car at Turn 4.

The longest first stint of any of the frontrunners meant Raikkonen, who stopped on lap 44, fell behind the recovering Hamilton as the tyre strategies played out.

Hamilton had been gifted a position at the start by a clutch-related poor getaway from Max Verstappen, and worked his way past Sergio Perez’s Force India and Grosjean in the opening stint as well.

The Mercedes driver complained about his tyres once he swapped his super-softs for ultra-softs, but charged in the closing stages and got within DRS range of Ricciardo with three laps to go – though he could not find a way past.

Raikkonen finished a lonely fifth, while Grosjean scored his best result of the season with sixth.

Behind Grosjean came the Force Indias, with Perez leading Esteban Ocon, while the Williams duo of Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll charged into the points after a disappointing qualifying left them P17 and P18 on the grid.

They were helped by a first-lap collision that was caused when Verstappen started slowly from fifth on the grid and was collected at Turn 1 by Fernando Alonso, whose McLaren had been rear-ended by Daniil Kvyat.

The Toro Rosso driver was handed a drive-through penalty for the incident, which led to Verstappen stopping further round the lap and Alonso returning to the pits immediately with terminal damage.

Kevin Magnussen, who complained of no power steering, and Carlos Sainz were the only other retirements.

So not the most thrilling Austrian Grand Prix but for Valtteri Bottas, this was the perfect result. Supreme reaction to the five red lights at start, resisted the pressure from championship leader and a second victory for Mercedes.

As for the Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton title fight. The Ferrari driver extends his lead to 20 points with the British Grand Prix coming up next. The home support for Hamilton will be very vocal and passionate at Silverstone.

Austrian Grand Prix, race results after 71 laps:

1    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1h21m48.527s
2    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    0.658s
3    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    6.012s
4    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    7.430s
5    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    20.370s
6    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m06.281s
7    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
8    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
9    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1 Lap
10    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1 Lap
11    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1 Lap
12    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1 Lap
13    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1 Lap
14    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
15    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    2 Laps
16    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    3 Laps
–    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    Retirement
–    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    Retirement
–    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    Collision
–    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    Collision

Drivers’ standings:

1    Sebastian Vettel    171
2    Lewis Hamilton    151
3    Valtteri Bottas    136
4    Daniel Ricciardo    107
5    Kimi Raikkonen    83
6    Sergio Perez    50
7    Max Verstappen    45
8    Esteban Ocon    39
9    Carlos Sainz    29
10    Felipe Massa    22
11    Lance Stroll    18
12    Nico Hulkenberg    18
13    Romain Grosjean    18
14    Kevin Magnussen    11
15    Pascal Wehrlein    5
16    Daniil Kvyat    4
17    Fernando Alonso    2
18    Jolyon Palmer    0
19    Marcus Ericsson    0
20    Stoffel Vandoorne    0
21    Antonio Giovinazzi    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    287
2    Ferrari    254
3    Red Bull-Renault    152
4    Force India-Mercedes    89
5    Williams-Mercedes    40
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    33
7    Haas-Ferrari    29
8    Renault    18
9    Sauber-Ferrari    5
10    McLaren-Honda    2

Bottas comes out on in Austrian GP qualifying

Valtteri Bottas narrowly beat Sebastian Vettel to pole position in the Austrian Grand Prix, while Lewis Hamilton will start no better than eighth place thanks to a gearbox penalty.

Bottas’s Mercedes led the Ferrari of championship leader Vettel 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 Q3 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 in Formula 1, and will share the front row with team-mate Hamilton’s 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 the super-soft Pirelli to progress through Q2, so will start the race on an alternative tyre strategy following his five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was fourth quickest, just ahead of the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, who was struggling with oversteer through Turn 3 before his high-speed spin.

Grosjean ended up seventh quickest 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’s Toro Rosso made Q3 for the first time since the Monaco Grand Prix and completes the top ten.

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg only just failed to displace Ocon’s Force India from the top ten shootout in Q2, falling short by 0.047 seconds.

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 power unit, was happy to qualify P13, the 0.139 seconds gap to Alonso being the closest Vandoorne has managed to get to his illustrious team-mate so far this season.

Daniil Kvyat had a difficult qualifying session and ended up only P14 for 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 0.029 seconds 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 P16.

Williams endured its worst qualifying session of the season, with both drivers failing to escape Q1. This was such a big contrast to 2014, in which the team recorded a front row lock-out at the Red Bull Ring.

Felipe Massa was more than two tenths away from making the cut and was only P17, while team-mate Lance Stroll was another 0.074 seconds down in P18.

Marcus Ericsson got the better of Sauber team-mate Pascal Wehrlein, lapping only 0.249 seconds away from Stroll, having been more than half a second off the next fastest car in final practice.

So an anticlimax end to qualifying caused by a yellow flag. Bottas the winner in qualifying – his second pole position this season – but all focus are on Vettel and Hamilton following that bash in Baku. Sebastian is in a good position to score big thanks to second on the grid, while Lewis has work to do with eighth.

The Austrian Grand Prix is going to be fascinating in terms of the championship and supreme between the title rivals. Bring on the battle at the Red Bull Ring!

Austrian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:

1    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m04.251s
2    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m04.293s
3    Kimi Raikkonen       Ferrari    1m04.779s
4    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m04.896s
5    Max Verstappen        Red Bull-Renault    1m04.983s
6    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m05.480s
7    Sergio Perez      Force India-Mercedes    1m05.605s
8    Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes    1m04.424s*
9    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1m05.674s
10    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m05.726s
11    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m05.597s
12    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m05.602s
13    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1m05.741s
14    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m05.884s
15    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    No time
16    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m06.345s
17    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m06.534s
18    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1m06.608s
19    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m06.857s
20    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1m07.011s

*Five-place grid penalty for changing gearbox

Ricciardo wins chaotic Baku race as title rivals clashed

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo was victorious in a chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix featuring Formula 1 title rivals Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton controversially clashing behind the Safety Car.

Hamilton and Vettel had a on-track run-in while the race was being neutralised, earning Vettel an 10-second penalty that would have given Hamilton a comfortable cruise to victory had the headrest on the Mercedes not come close.

Those dramas left Ricciardo, who qualified tenth position and looked well and truly out of contention after stopping early to have debris cleared out of a brake duct, in position to take his fifth race victory.

Ricciardo headed home Valtteri Bottas and Williams driver Lance Stroll, who picked up a maiden podium just two weeks after his first Formula 1 points finish in Montreal.

Bottas had been a lap down after a first-lap collision with fellow Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen but was allowed to unlap himself during one of the race’s many interruptions.

Mayhem ahead allowed Valtteri to find his way into third, and he reeled in Stroll before inching ahead of the Williams in a near-photo-finish for second.

The Bottas and Raikkonen clash happened as the Ferrari got ahead of him for second into Turn 2 on lap one after the Mercedes lost momentum with wheelspin out of the first corner.

Bottas kept to the inside line, bounced off the kerb and into Raikkonen, who tagged the wall but continued in fifth while Bottas limped to the pits.

That allowed Vettel into second position behind Hamilton, and he was trailing by three seconds when the race’s first Safety Car appeared on lap 11 of 51 as Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso parked on track.

Max Verstappen was pressuring Sergio Perez for third at this point, but had to retire with yet another engine issue.

The safety lasted for several laps and allowed all the leading runners to swap their super-softs for softs.

Hamilton sped up early on the main straight for the lap 16 restart and immediately established a lead over Vettel, who had to fend off pressure from Perez, while Raikkonen fell behind Felipe Massa and Esteban Ocon to sixth.

The race was immediately suspended again due to debris in several parts of the circuit, and another chaotic restart followed a few laps later.

First, Vettel made contact with the rear of Hamilton’s car as the leader tried to back the pack up for the restart.

Vettel was furious, pulling alongside Hamilton and angrily gesticulating at his rival on the exit of Turn 15 – as his Ferrari whacked against the side of the Mercedes.

Vettel then had to fend off Massa and Perez into Turn 1, although he kept position successfully again.

Instead, there was drama for the Force Indias, as Ocon tried to edge past Perez on exit of Turn 2 but made violent contact, with Raikkonen picking up a damaging puncture from their debris.

Red flags eventually came out this time. Perez and Raikkonen required long periods in the garage for repairs, while Ocon dropped to the back.

At the restart after a 20-minute stoppage, Hamilton and Vettel – now back on super-softs – maintained position with relative ease, as Ricciardo dived into third past both Stroll and Massa, who retired due to a broken rear damper shortly afterwards.

That overtake was crucial for Ricciardo as soon afterwards Hamilton was called to the pits for a loose headrest to be replaced and Vettel’s 10-second stop-go penalty was applied.

Ricciardo was left free to lead to the finish, while Vettel and Hamilton, now in that order, fought back through the field in tandem.

But they could do no better than fourth and fifth, catching the Bottas and Stroll battle on the final lap.

Ocon and Haas driver Magnussen had both run in a podium position after the red flag, but were shuffled back to sixth and seventh in the end.

Carlos Sainz recovered from a first-lap spin – that he blamed on team-mate Kvyat rejoining from the run-off area – to take eighth, with Fernando Alonso scoring McLaren-Honda’s first points of the season in ninth.

The Sauber of Pascal Wehrlein took tenth after a battle with team-mate Marcus Ericsson that included contact before the team asked Ericsson to let Wehrlein through as Stoffel Vandoorne gained on them on fresh tyres.

Vandoorne could not pass either Sauber and finished in P12.

Romain Grosjean was a lap down in P13 due to braking problems.

Raikkonen and Perez’s repaired cars were eventually retired, while Jolyon Palmer went out very early with engine problems.

So a dramatic and exciting Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Full of incidents with the championship contenders colliding into one another. A popular winning thanks to the honey badger and brilliant result for the Stroll, the first Canadian podium result since Jacques Villeneuve in 2001.

As for Alonso and McLaren-Honda. Finally, a points finish with ninth. The chaos certainly helped Fernando with this result but it can be taken as a positive step towards competitiveness.

Congratulations Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull Racing in winning the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Suffered an issue during the race but came back fighting and taking a shocking victory. That’s Aussie grit!

Azerbaijan Grand Prix, race results after 51 laps:

1    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    2h03m55.573s
2    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    3.904s
3    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    4.009s
4    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    5.976s
5    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    6.188s
6    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    30.298s
7    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    41.753s
8    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    49.400s
9    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    59.551s
10    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1m29.093s
11    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m31.794s
12    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1m32.160s
13    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1 Lap
14    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    Not running
–    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    Retirement
–    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    Retirement
–    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    Accident
–    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    Retirement
–    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    Retirement
–    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    Retirement

Drivers’ standings:

1    Sebastian Vettel    153
2    Lewis Hamilton    139
3    Valtteri Bottas    111
4    Daniel Ricciardo    92
5    Kimi Raikkonen    73
6    Max Verstappen    45
7    Sergio Perez    44
8    Esteban Ocon    35
9    Carlos Sainz    29
10    Felipe Massa    20
11    Nico Hulkenberg    18
12    Lance Stroll    17
13    Kevin Magnussen    11
14    Romain Grosjean    10
15    Pascal Wehrlein    5
16    Daniil Kvyat    4
17    Fernando Alonso    2
18    Jolyon Palmer    0
19    Marcus Ericsson    0
20    Stoffel Vandoorne    0
21    Antonio Giovinazzi    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    250
2    Ferrari    226
3    Red Bull-Renault    137
4    Force India-Mercedes    79
5    Williams-Mercedes    37
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    33
7    Haas-Ferrari    21
8    Renault    18
9    Sauber-Ferrari    5
10    McLaren/Honda    2

Hamilton scores his 66th career pole at Baku

Lewis Hamilton won the Mercedes duel from Valtteri Bottas in qualifying to record his 66th career pole at the Baku Street Circuit.

This latest achievement in Formula 1 means Hamilton is just two poles away in equalling Michael Schumacher’s record of 68. The form that Hamilton is on, the triple champion can surpass this and record more.

Hamilton was the only driver to lap under one minute, 42 seconds 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 Red Bull was cleared, and Hamilton pulled out an awesome 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 Mercedes of fellow Finn Bottas.

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 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 P16, fitted with a ‘spec 2’ engine, and just 0.017 seconds 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 promote Romain Grosjean’s Haas and the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson.

Stoffel Vandoorne was slowest of those that ran in qualifying, 0.235 seconds 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 qualifying, without a lap time. He sat out the session after a high-pressure fuel leak caused his Renault to cook itself during the early stages of practice three.

The speed advantage from Mercedes was highly impressive in qualifying. The long, home straight really showcase the power and to be over a second clear from rival Ferrari underlines the dominance of this hybrid era of Formula 1.

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix is going to be fascinating on Sunday. Can Hamilton reduce the points gap to Sebastian Vettel? What can Valterri Bottas do? Is he able to challenge for victory? Bring on the race.

Qualifying positions, Baku:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m40.593s
2    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m41.027s
3    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m41.693s
4    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m41.841s
5    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m41.879s
6    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m42.111s
7    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1m42.186s
8    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1m42.753s
9    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m42.798s
10    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m43.414s
11    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m43.186s
12    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1m43.796s
13    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m44.267s
14    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1m44.603s
15    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m43.347s
16    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m44.468s
17    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m44.795s
18    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda     1m44.334s*
19    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda     1m45.030s*
20    Jolyon Palmer       Renault –

*Grid penalties for power unit change