European Grand Prix 2016 Qualifying: Saturday's F1 Results, Times and Final Grid

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJune 18, 2016

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 18: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during final practice before the European Formula One Grand Prix at Baku City Circuit on June 18, 2016 in Baku, Azerbaijan.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg will start in pole position in Baku, Azerbaijan, at the European Grand Prix on Sunday after his team-mate Lewis Hamilton crashed out in the final qualifying session

Rosberg will be chased by Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari man Sebastian Vettel, who will be in second and third, respectively. Force India's Sergio Perez posted the second-fastest time on Saturday, but he's facing a five-place grid penalty, while Hamilton was the 10th quickest in the session.

Earlier in the day, Hamilton was fastest in final practice; the world champion also topped the timesheets in both stanzas on Friday at a circuit that has posed some intriguing tests for the drivers.

Here are the results from qualifying and a reminder of how the action panned out on an absorbing day in Baku.

Qualifying Recap

Here is a look at the results from qualifying and how the drivers will shape up on the grid for Sunday's race, per the Formula 1 Twitter feed:

Formula 1 @F1


Aside from the usual suspects falling out of the running in the first qualifying session, the main surprise was to see McLaren man Jenson Button struggling to escape the drop zone. The Briton has looked in good shape so far this weekend but got caught up in traffic and eventually could only a muster a 19th-place finish.

As we can see courtesy of F1 on NBC Sports, it wasn't the best first session for Button, and he knew it:

F1 on NBC Sports @F1onNBCSports

Button: "Yeah it's not happening... **** it!" #F1onNBC #EuropeGP

Things were inevitably going to heat up in the second stint, with the battle to feature in the top 10 always set to be fierce on an unfamiliar circuit.

One man who looked in danger of dropping out for a spell in Q2 was Hamilton. After his first lap was skewed by a spin from Nico Hulkenberg, an error made his next one a long way short of the top times on the board. Eventually, sitting in 10th position, he was able to post a quick time, jumping up to second spot.

Fernando Alonso was one of the men to miss out on the top 10 shootout and made his displeasure at the traffic clear on the team radio. Hulkenberg, who ended up in 12th position, was also unhappy with his engineer after he was advised not to go full pelt on his last lap, per Autosport Live:

Autosport Live @autosportlive

Now there's a radio argument at Force India as Hulkenberg backed off too soon. #F1

Autosport Live @autosportlive

Hulkenberg complains he should've been told that was his chance. His engineer says he did tell him... #F1

Meanwhile, as he'd done in the first session, it was Rosberg who continued to set the pace out on track. Given how well Hamilton had performed during practice, it set things up wonderfully for the final stages.

The signs weren't good for Hamilton early on, as he lost control of his Mercedes and had to dart down the escape route. With both of the Silver Arrows conditioning their tyres, the initial times were not quick at all, with Perez posting a very impressive time to go to the top of the standings.

The session hinged on an extraordinary minute. Another error from Hamilton proved catastrophic on this occasion, as he crashed into a wall with the sun blazing in his eyes. Further around the track, his team-mate edged ahead of Perez to take pole before the session was red-flagged.

Here's how Hamilton's car looked afterwards:

Formula 1 @F1

RED FLAG Q3 📻 HAM: "I'm out. I'm out of this session..." #EuropeGP #Quali 🇦🇿 https://t.co/pjg1lRNh52

When the action resumed, the big winner was Ricciardo, who jumped ahead of Vettel in the latter stages; they both posted identical times, but because the Red Bull man did so first, he starts higher up on the grid.

Ferrari and Red Bull will be pleased with this outcome, as Perez's smash at the end of FP3 will see him drop five places on the grid. It means they'll have a chance to hunt down the world championship leader off the line on Sunday with their revered starting prowess.

Hamilton will be hugely disappointed that after being so dominant over the course of the week he was unable to hook things up when it matters. After two race wins in a row for the champion, Rosberg has a superb chance to halt the momentum he built.

Third Practice Recap

Here are the provisional results of the session, with Hamilton enjoying another positive start to the day in Baku, per the Renault Twitter feed:

Renault Sport F1 @RenaultSportF1

Final timing screen from #FP3 at the #EuropeGP https://t.co/bgJvOhppxK

The session got off to a rocky start for Valtteri Bottas in the Williams. The Finn would have been looking to put some strong early laps on the board and continue the momentum from his third place in Canada last time out. But a drain cover that had come loose in the pit lane damaged his car.

As we can see, the marshals opted for a simple way of alerting drivers to the possible dangers, per the official Formula One Twitter feed:

Formula 1 @F1

#FP3 Drain cover comes loose on pit lane exit... repairs underway 🔧 #EuropeGP 🇦🇿 #F1 https://t.co/c0nOvaYf8b

In punishing heat, Daniel Ricciardo set the early pace in the Red Bull. But once the Mercedes pairing came out with the supersoft tyres on, it was evident they were going to be very difficult to beat once again.

Rosberg needed to show something in this session after he was dominated by Hamilton on Friday, and as the two Mercedes’ put their quick laps in, it was the German who initially had the edge.

As noted by F1 Fanatic Live, Ferrari's Vettel couldn’t match Mercedes’ pace, even with the help of a slipstream:

RaceFans Live @racefanslive

Vettel catches a slipstream from Ericsson and sets a 1'45.694, just 0.259s of Rosberg. Encouraging for Ferrari. #F1 #EuropeGP

Nico Hulkenberg made a statement of intent late in the session, as he split the two Mercedes stars in his Force India. Rosberg did flirt with the wall at Turn 1 on one of his hot laps, although he was looking especially handy on the supersoft compound, knocking eight-tenths off the mark he'd set earlier in the session.

Hamilton was too quick for Rosberg again in the morning.
Hamilton was too quick for Rosberg again in the morning.ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/Getty Images

Hamilton, as he has done throughout the weekend, was able to find something extra again late on, though. The Mercedes man tuned up his efforts in the first two sectors in what was his final lap and finished with two-tenths to spare on his team-mate, making it a clean sweep of sessions so far from the world champion.

With the clock ticking down, Perez had a moment to forget; the Force India man put his car into the wall at Turn 15, leaving him stranded with his right rear tyre dangling. It prompted a red flag and the end of another fascinating practice.


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