Nico Rosberg has claimed pole for the 2016 Europe Grand Prix at the Baku street circuit after winning qualifying today. Force India had an incredible run where Sergio Perez finished second but will have to drop five places tomorrow after a gearbox change penalty takes effect. Daniel Ricciardo will thus start from P2 for Red Bull while Ferrari will occupy the second row with Vettel and Raikkonen.

Hamilton had a troubled qualifying session, running off the track several times before sustaining damage in the final session which ultimately forced him out of qualifying, in tenth place.

Europe Grand Prix 2016 Qualifying Results

1. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes-AMG
2. Sergio Perez – Force India (5 place grid penalty tomorrow)
3. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull
4. Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari
5. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari
6. Felipe Massa – Williams
7. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso
8. Valtteri Bottas – Williams
9. Max Verstappen – Red Bull
10. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes-AMG

Toro Rosso were the first to head out in Q1, followed by nearly half the field which was on supersofts. Hamilton has been fastest through all three free practice sessions in Baku, his teammate Rosberg was the first to set a time on 1m44.136s in Q1. Kvyat, Nasr, Sainz and Magnussen slotted behind the Mercedes cars after the first runs.

Valtteri Bottas went third fastest moments later, an impressive performance considering he missed all free practice sessions due to car troubles.

With ten minutes left on the clock, Rosberg led the field from Hamilton, Ricciardo, Bottas, Verstappen and Kvyat. Grosjean was having issues with his braking system and went off the track twice, Hamilton also suffered the same fate of running wide off the track.

While Hamilton returned to the pits after that off track moment, Rosberg set a new fastest time on 1m43.685s. Ferrari and McLaren were yet to record any times, with six minutes left in Q1. Ferrari soon recorded their first lap times, placing Vettel in ninth and Raikkonen in seventh.

When the chequered flag flew, the elimination list comprised of Haryanto, Wehrlein, Button, Ericsson, Magnussen and Palmer. All drivers ran on supersoft tires in that session.

In Q2, Gutierrez was the first man to set a time, with a 1m45.000s lap, his time was beaten by Kvyat, Massa and then Bottas. But it was Rosberg who laid down a better time with a much quicker lap of 1m42.520s to top the leaderboard.

Hamilton was having a tough session, running tenth with 2 minutes left and then running off the track after outbraking himself. Raikkonen also went off at turn 3 but still remained in sixth. In a last minute hustle for a save, Hamilton’s lap placed him second behind Rosberg.

Eliminated in Q2 were Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Sainz, Alonso, Gutierrez and Nasr. The top ten after the chequered flag were Rosberg, Hamilton, Perez, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen, Kvyat and Massa.

All drivers used supersoft tires again in Q2, they will start on the same set in tomorrow’s race.

The Mercedes duet did not waste time in Q3 as they jumped right into it after the green flag. Ricciardo set the pace of the session but Vettel beat him with 1m44.260s. Raikkonen came in second before Perez set a faster time with a 1m43.515s. Verstappen and Bottas nearly made contact forcing the Dutchman to run off at turn 1.

And Hamilton went off again down turn 15, prompting the yellow flags which prevented Rosberg from making a clean lap too. Most drivers dashed for the pits to pick up fresh tires but the Mercedes drivers opted to stay out.

Two minutes left on the clock and Hamilton went off again, this time he stopped on the track and eventually bringing out the red flag. Luckily, Rosberg had managed to set the fastest time with a 1m42.758s lap placing him on provisional pole. Both drivers clipped the wall but Rosberg’s car sustained no damage. Rosberg opted to end his session early, satisfied with his time while the rest of the field went out for one final lap.

Ricciardo made a major improvement jumping from 7th to 3rd. Perez retained second but will drop five places tomorrow due to a gearbox change penalty.

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