Haas F1 Team drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean qualified 15th and 20th, respectively, for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix Sunday at Baku City Circuit. Magnussen advanced to the second round of knockout qualifying while Grosjean was unable to post a time.
A gearbox issue thwarted Grosjean's effort in Q1. After running wide into the escape area in turn three of the 6.003-kilometer (3.730-mile), 20-turn track during his first and, subsequently, only qualifying run, Grosjean reported a problem with his gearbox. "The gearbox is locked. Something is broken," said Grosjean over the team radio, prompting the team to have him switch off his racecar.
Magnussen set about carrying the flag for Haas F1 Team by securing the ninth-fastest time in Q1 with a lap of 1:43.674, easily making the top-15 cutoff to move on to Q2. However, at the end of Magnussen's flying lap, he lost a piece of bodywork, specifically, the left-side bargeboard. With time running out before Q2 began, the team opted not to make repairs, taking the loss of aero balance with the opportunity to make a top-10 qualifying drive.
With only a right-side bargeboard to start Q2, Magnussen left the Haas F1 Team garage intent on making the best of the situation. Alas, the aero imbalance was pronounced, and Magnussen earned the 15th-fastest time with a lap of 1:44.759.
Both Magnussen and Grosjean ran exclusively on the Pirelli P Zero Purple ultrasoft tire throughout qualifying.
Before Magnussen, Grosjean and the rest of their Formula One counterparts participated in knockout qualifying, they had one final practice (FP3) to dial in their racecars for a quick lap around the track. To emulate qualifying, both drivers ran exclusively on the Purple ultrasofts.
The Haas F1 Team duo employed the same program in FP3, each beginning with an installation lap before making two timed stints. Magnussen set the seventh-fastest time with a 1:43.958 on his 11th lap. Grosjean earned his best time on his ninth lap - a 1:45.261 that put him 15th overall.
FP3 was a prelude to qualifying. Vettel was quickest with a fast lap of 1:43.091, which was .361 of a second better than Hamilton, who finished second in FP3.
Romain Grosjean: "I went straight after a big lockup into the escape road. I reversed - everything was working - and then I suddenly lost the hydraulics. I couldn't do anything else - upshift, downshift, whatever - I was stuck in neutral. It's a bit of a shame as, unfortunately, that was it. Going into qualifying, I was hoping we'd found the right tools. There are overtaking opportunities tomorrow, so we'll try to do our best. It's definitely a track where a lot can happen, and I've got plenty of tires for the race."
Kevin Magnussen: "It could've been better, but we didn't have much luck today. I think P15 is still a position we can fight back from - it's not too far from the points. I'm still positive for tomorrow. There are opportunities. It doesn't take a big mistake for you to go straight on here at the corners. You can gain a position, for sure, if someone ahead does that. We shouldn't write off the race. We'll keep focused and, hopefully, have a good race for tomorrow. I think it's a really cool circuit and it's good fun to drive. It has a good layout for racing and for slipstreaming down that long straight. It offers opportunities for a good race."
Guenther Steiner: "A very disappointing qualifying session for us. We should be better than this, but when it rains, it pours. We start 15th and 20th for tomorrow, which isn't where we want to be or where we should be. We'll do our best to still get at least one car in the points. A lot is possible here."
Check out our Saturday gallery from Baku, here.