Lewis Hamilton has taken pole for 2017 Azerbaijan F1 grand prix after putting in a stonker of a lap, which was about half a second clear of his team-mate Valtteri Bottas in second place, and we all know how important it is to beat your team-mate, your team-mate is the one who has exactly the same car as you and he is the benchmark against which you compare yourself in every dimension. So, now let’s look at how the intra-team battle has been shaping up after the qualifying in Baku.
At Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton is in lead with 5 out-qualifications against Bottas’s 3, but the challenge Finn has put is probably more than what Hamilton expected, and it’s a well-known fact as to how good Hamilton is in qualifying, The Brit is a master when it comes to extracting one-lap pace from the machinery, having out-qualified his former team-mate and 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg in all the four seasons they spent at Mercedes.
Also, Hamilton is now ever close to having most number of pole positions with him being just 2 shy of the great Michael Schumacher.
Ferrari endured a somewhat subdued qualifying in Baku but recovered well to finish on the second place on the grid, Kimi Raikkonen out-qualified Sebastian Vettel for only the second time this season with other being at Monaco, the score between them stays at 6-2 in Vettel’s favour. Though one could argue that Vettel was at significant disadvantage in Baku after having to revert back to the engine he used in his first race in Australia, but still Raikkonen seemed to be in better shape than the German.
At Red-Bull it was all even-stevens coming into Azerbaijan grand prix, and at a point of time it looked like the bulls maybe getting in the mix for pole position with Ferrari and Mercedes, but those hopes soon disappeared as Ferrari and the Mercedes cranked up their engines during their final run in Q3, and to make matters worse, Daniel Ricciardo lost the back end of his red-bull exiting turn 6 putting him out of contention for a decent spot on the grid.
Max Verstappen had been looking in supreme form during the practice sessions in Baku and had out-qualified Daniel in all of them but Daniel’s crash meant that we couldn’t see a proper duel between those two charging bulls, the battle now being in favour of Verstappen 5-3.
Talking about Force India, the intra-team battle has been heating up ever since the controversy in Montreal where Sergio Perez ignored team orders to let his much faster tram-mate Esteban Ocon pass to overtake 3rd place Daniel Ricciardo.
The qualifying battle till now has been in favour of the much experienced Mexican, Sergio Perez with him leading 7-1 after again out-qualifying his team-mate Esteban Ocon, though Esteban has been getting ever closer with each passing grand prix and the gap between those two was just 0.075 in Baku.
Over at Williams, Lance Stroll for the 1st time has out-qualified his illustrious team-mate Felipe Massa to open his account in their intra-team battle with the Brazilian still leading with a score of 6-1.That result in Canada, where Lance scored his first F1 points seems to have rejuvenated the confidence in the young Canadian and he has been looking in top form all through the weekend out-qualifying Felipe in number of practice sessions. So, are we seeing the real Lance Stroll? That question remains to be answered.
Moving on to Scuderia Toro Rosso, the intra-team battle between them is very close with much highly regarded Spaniard Carlos Sainz and former red-bull driver Daniil Kvyat being equal at a score of 4-4.
Over at Renault, Nico Hulkenberg continued his supremacy over Jolyon Palmer, who is having a nightmare of a season and so far has been comprehensively outpaced by the German. In Baku, The Brit didn’t even get a chance to contest in qualifying after his engine caught fire in the third practice session which the team couldn’t repair and so the score stays at 8-0.
Haas endured a very tough qualifying in Baku with Romain Grosjean failing to get out of Q1 while his team-mate Kevin Magnussen failed to get into the final Q3 shootout, ending up in a disappointing 13th place on the grid. Now, it has almost been a regular feature to see a Haas car getting knocked out in Q1 despite them having the pace to contest higher positions on the grid, so in Baku they had a team member specifically assigned to watch out for traffic and to warn their drivers but that availed to no benefit.
As far as the intra-team Battle is concerned it’s even at 4-4 and there’s really not much to choose between those two young guns, both pushing each other to their limits.
Pascal Wehrlein has set the stage alight with his blistering qualifying performances for Sauber, with the German dragging that car out of Q1 on a couple of occasions the most recent being at Baku, Last year also we saw some stunning drives from Pascal when he put the Manor in positions which that car didn’t deserve and even managed to score a point for them.
The German is all set to advance up the grid in the coming years and has so far out-qualified Marcus Ericsson at all the races this season with the score between those two being at 5-1.
McLaren have continued their run of disappointing performances with both Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne failing to get out of Q1 in Baku, but as far as their intra-team battle is concerned Fernando has reigned supreme and is leading with a score of 7-0, which has been a surprise to many as Stoffel is a former Gp2 champion and a highly regarded F1 driver but so far the Belgian has failed to match his much illustrious team-mate.
Head-to-Head qualifying score after Azerbaijan Grand Prix
By Nishant F1