Romain Grosjean qualified 11th, will start on outside of Row 6, Esteban Gutiérrez qualified 15th, will start on outside of Row 8.
Preparation for Sunday’s European Grand Prix at the new Baku City Circuit in Azerbaijan continued Saturday as the action and temperature heated up during final practice (FP3) and qualifying on the 6.003-kilometer (3.730-mile) street track. The afternoon’s final 60-minute practice session saw the track temperature hit 46 degrees Celsius (115 degrees Fahrenheit) while air temperature was capped at 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit).
Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez totaled 42 laps in FP3, split evenly between the two pilots. Both utilized the Pirelli P Zero White medium tire at the onset of the session before switching to the P Zero Red supersoft tire for their two timed runs. Grosjean led the way for Haas F1 Team in FP3 with the 13th quickest time (1:46.361), set on his 15th lap during a second, 10-lap stint that took him to the end of the session. Gutiérrez, also with a pair of outings following his installation lap, set his quickest time (1:46.670) on his 14th tour of the circuit to place him 15th overall.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton completed a clean sweep of Baku’s practice sessions, topping FP3 with a quick time of 1:44.352.
Qualifying yielded more positive feedback for Haas F1 Team, with Grosjean and Gutiérrez advancing to Q2 for the third straight race. Grosjean’s 11th-place qualifying time (1:44.755) was his second-best effort of the season, with the ninth-place starting spot earned in Bahrain being his benchmark. Gutiérrez’s quick time (1:45.349) placed him 15th on the grid. The path to Q2 was set when Gutiérrez held 12th at the end of the 18-minute Q1 session while Grosjean was 14th. Only the top-16 drivers advance from Q1 to Q2. Both drivers utilized the P Zero Red supersoft tire exclusively in qualifying.
The first-ever pole at Baku City Circuit went to Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg with a fast time of 1:42.758. It was Rosberg’s 25th career pole and his third of the season. Rosberg also set the track record, with his Q2 time of 1:42.520 being the fastest so far of the European Grand Prix race weekend. Force India’s Sergio Perez was the second-fastest driver in qualifying, with his best lap being .757 of a second behind Rosberg. But Perez had to make a gearbox change, earning him a five-spot grid penalty.
“Pretty good result at the end of the day. It was the best we could’ve hoped for. Being just outside the top-10 is actually quite good for our strategy and the tires tomorrow. I struggled with the grip and the braking in Q1. I was blocked a couple of times and I was a bit worried. The second run I needed a clean lap and we did that. The car felt great in Q2 and I managed to get some good grip from the tires, which helped a lot. We still have to investigate our brakes a bit to make sure the car is performing better. Generally, it was a good performance from the team. All weekend long it’s been working well, so I’m happy with that.”
“Today hasn’t been a good day for me. I’ve been struggling a bit with the brakes. On the last lap I took a few risks and I made a small mistake. Unfortunately, I didn’t have another chance after that. Overall, I think sometimes you have to take risks and these things happen. In racing you have to try to make the most of every opportunity and, occasionally, it comes out like this. Looking ahead to tomorrow, we will try to advance as much as we can and get the best out of our performance. The track will allow for some overtaking so it will be a great race to watch.”
“A good qualifying for us. Eleventh for Romain, which is a position you want to be in, and 15th for Esteban, which is also a good result. It’s so difficult to predict what’s going to happen at a new track, so I think we could have quite an unpredictable race ahead of us. However, if we keep fighting this hard, avoiding little mistakes, it will certainly make for an interesting race. I’m hoping for a positive and exciting race for us. If we keep out of trouble, hopefully we can go home with points.”