Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg took pole in qualifying for the 2016 European Grand Prix this morning as teammate Lewis Hamilton crashed out of the session. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, meanwhile, took fourth and fifth on the grid after feeling the pressure from Red Bull and Force India.
Qualifying second was Force India’s Sergio Perez, however because the Mexican’s car underwent a gearbox change in Free Practice 3, he will be given a five-place grid penalty Sunday. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo tied Vettel’s time in qualifying, but will start in front of the German as he was the first of the two to complete the lap.
With Perez moving to seventh on the grid, Williams’ Felipe Massa will move into fifth on the grid to complete the top five. Daniel Kyvat was seventh fastest in the Toro Rosso, just ahead of Williams’ Valteri Bottas. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, whose lap was impeded by Bottas, qualified ninth. Hamilton, who retired from the session after clipping the wall and damaging his front right suspension, will start tenth.
Vettel was frustrated with the team’s performance in the qualifying session, but is looking forward to starting from the second row and getting a clean start Sunday.
“I think tomorrow anything can happen for anyone,” Vettel said. “It will be a long race with a lot of laps. If I started fourth tomorrow I would be more angry. So, I think it is fine this way and that we started on the clean side. I think it’s likely to make quite a big difference on a new track. Maybe I am wrong, but usually we have good starts. I’ve had a good feeling already this weekend, so we’ll see.”
The German also acknowledged the large gap to Mercedes-Benz after Rosberg’s posted a blistering lap time of 1:42.758. The next fastest driver, Perez, turned in a lap of 1:43.515. Vettel’s quickest circuit of the Baku course was a 1:43.966.
“We are happy but not entirely because the gap with Mercedes is very big, but it will be a long race with plenty of opportunities, I guess. After the weekend we will try to understand where we were losing time, but for the moment let’s focus on the race, because we have all the chances to do a good job.”