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Rosberg rules as Hamilton rues errors


Following his crash in the final moments of FP3, the entire rear end of Sergio Perez' car has had to be changed, including his gearbox. This means that the Mexican incurs a five-place grid penalty.

Normally, on a street circuit, this would effectively mean 'game over' or at least the prospect of a couple of points, but such is the nature of this circuit we wouldn't be surprised to see the Force India driver on the podium tomorrow.

This morning's GP2 race saw just 10 of the original 22 starters make it to the flag, such was the mayhem. Indeed, the race had to be re-started following a crash at the original start which saw five driver eliminated.

Based on the evidence thus far this season, we do not see the F1 drivers being any less aggressive on as circuit which positively encourages you to try your luck and then hits back with unforgiving brutality.

Lewis Hamilton has topped all three practice session and must be favourite to take pole however, whether he will be able to stay out of trouble tomorrow - having had his own share of offs this weekend - remains to be seen.

Rosberg has been second quickest in every session (natch!), with all the Mercedes powered cars looking good.

Having looked to be struggling yesterday, Red Bull looked a whole lot stronger this morning, whilst Ferrari doesn't look comfortable.

McLaren has been looking good all weekend and must be feeling confident, whilst Toro Rosso appears strangely inconsistent.

Valtteri Bottas was dealt a cruel blow earlier when a loose drain cover damaged his car causing him to miss the whole of FP2. However, we believe that as in the case of Perez' penalty, this might not prove to be too big an issue as we are expecting a freak result tomorrow.

Indeed, Pascal Wehrlein, who finished FP3 17th on the timesheets, could even score some points tomorrow, such is the unpredictability of this event/circuit.

Air temperature ahead of this session is 27 degrees C, whilst the track temperature is 39 degrees.

Tyres available this weekend are supersoft, soft and medium, whilst there are two DRS zones. The first begins 630 metres before the Turn 3 braking point, the second 730 metres before the braking point for Turn 1. They share a single detection point located at Turn 20.

As previously reported a number of changes were carried out overnight, with a number of kerbs removed and the track markings painted on instead. The pitlane entrance was changed also.

The lights go green and the Toro Rosso duo leads the way. However, in the Ferrari garage Vettel's car is still on its stands.

In no time at all there are 16 drivers on track, all on the supersofts.

Sainz gets things underway with a 1:47.237 but this is beaten by Kvyat, Hamilton and then Rosberg, who crosses the line at 44.136.

Ericsson complains that Grosjean blocked him, whilst Massa also appeared to bet in the way of Verstappen.

As Bottas goes third - despite no FP3 running - Grosjean is off at T15 but continues.

Thanks to a tow from a Renault, Verstappen goes fourth with a 45.292. Moments later, teammate Ricciardo goes third with a 44.570.

After going off again, this time at T4, Grosjean complains to his team about his brakes. "We've got to get this sorted guys," he complains.

Hamilton is against the barrier, nose first, at T15, but is able to continue with no apparent harm done.

Perez goes fourth and Hulkenberg fifth as the Ferrari duo finally leave the garage.

Out front, Rosberg consolidates his top spot with a 43.685.

Button is the latest to fall foul of T15, as Bottas re-takes fourth with a 44.706.

With 6:50 remaining, Haryanto, Wehrlein, Grosjean, Button and the Ferraris comprise the drop zone.

Vettel goes seventh with a 45.062, it's not much but at least he's through to Q2.

Another bold lap from Perez sees the Mexican go third, the Force India driver on fire in the land of flame.

Raikkonen's first lap sees the Finn go 20th, the Ferrari driver posting 48.064 before improving to 44.936 and taking seventh.

Button cannot improve on 45.804 but remains 18th.

Palmer fails to improve on 46.405, earning a shrug from his father.

All eyes on Gutierrez who is currently 16th, whilst his teammate has improved to 11th.

A spin for Raikkonen brings out the yellows which momentarily brings out the yellows. Gutierrez improves to tenth, but what can Button do?

When Vettel gets it wrong at T15, the yellows are waved again, which means Button eases off and misses the cut, as does Magnussen.

"It's not happening," says Button. "****!"

No sooner has Sainz gone sixth that Toro Rosso teammate Kvyat posts 44.694 to go fifth. Elsewhere, Ericsson clouts the wall but is able to continue.

Quickest was Rosberg, ahead of Hamilton, Perez, Ricciardo, Kvyat, Bottas, Sainz, Hulkenberg, Raikkonen and Verstappen.

We lose Haryanto, Wehrlein, Button, Ericsson, Magnussen and Palmer.

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1. Posted by bfairey, 18/06/2016 18:20

"Reilly Ace of Spies started in Baku spying for the British. but its all about "bums in seats" and Charlie Whiting."

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2. Posted by JackTheCat, 18/06/2016 17:38

"Even as a Hamilton fan I had to have a chuckle... yesterday I thought he was very dismissive of his rivals and I thought at the time... be careful as pride comes before a fall.... and bang!

Ah well!"

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by TokyoAussie, 18/06/2016 16:35

"The more I watch, the one word I keep coming up with? "Sterile." A track that seems impossibly wide in parts, and impossibly narrow in others. Crowd is tiny or invisible. And this on the same day I heard that Brazil, what with its fantastic fans, is under threat. Is it possible that Bernie thinks that this is better than Brazil? I seriously doubt it, but he is chasing dollars, and nothing else. The image of the sport has been ignored for ages. Some call the commercial rights holder the "promoter," but I see no sign of that. The "exploiter" would be more accurate.

I definitely do not begrudge Azerbaijan. They want to promote themselves. I'd never heard of Baku before, and couldn't tell you where Azerbaijan even is on a map, but now I can. So their job is done. No doubt, people will want to visit what looks like an interesting place.

I hope the race is interesting, as a fan. But I fear for multiple safety cars.

I suspect Bernie will think it's the best event on the calendar, this year. In 3 years, it'll probably be gone."

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