For the third straight race of the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season, Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel will start on the pole.
Vettel’s quick lap during Q3 of 1:41.498 was set on his first run, and although he could not better it on his next run – he locked up the brakes in the first sector – his lap time held up to secure him his third consecutive pole, something he last accomplished in 2013.
However, his pole was not without a bit of luck. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen looked set to take the top spot from Vettel, with Raikkonen two-tenths of a second ahead entering the final sector.
But, the Finn nearly spun exiting Turn 16, the final corner before the long front straightaway, which cost him close to a second in lap time, relegating him to sixth on the grid.
Behind Vettel, the Mercedes AMG Petronas duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas qualified second and third, with Hamilton less than two-tenths of a second behind Vettel. The close gap between the two, coupled with Raikkonen’s lower-than-expected grid position, mean Ferrari and Mercedes could be in for a titanic duel off the start.
Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen took fourth and fifth, while Sahara Force India enjoyed an uptick in form, with Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez advancing to Q3 and qualifying seventh and eighth.
The Renault Sport F1 Team duo of Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr. rounded out the Top 10.
Of note, Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley, who collided at the Chinese Grand Prix two weeks ago, nearly came to blows again in qualifying in a frightening near-miss.
Hartley had suffered a punctured tire and tried to get out of the way of the fast-approaching Gasly. However, both drivers ended up opting to drive on the same side of the track, forcing Gasly to dart the opposite way at the last minute to avoid what would have been a disastrous collision.
Qualifying results are below. The Azerbaijan Grand Prix begins Sunday at 7:30 a.m. ET.