Rosberg takes historic first Baku pole as Hamilton suffers woeful qualifying


Nico Rosberg will start on the front of the grid at the European Grand Prix after Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton suffered a woeful outing in Baku.

World championship leader Rosberg benefitted after his colleague endured an afternoon to forget in the inaugural Azerbaijan qualifying sessions.

Hamilton looked in form throughout the practice sessions on the new street circuit, but had to take to escape routes in Q1 and Q2 before clipping the wall at turn 10 in the pole-position shootout and wrecking his front-right suspension.

The double-defending world champion will start 10th on the grid.

Hamilton's crash brought red flags out, resulting in a frantic, two-minute run for the places below Rosberg.

Sergio Perez was second-fastest, eight tenths of a second off Rosberg's 1:42.758, but the Force India man will start seventh after earning a five-place grid penalty for using a new gearbox following a smash in FP3.

Daniel Ricciardo will join Rosberg on the front row after just nipping ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the last run for the line. Incredibly, the two drivers both put in times of 1:43.966 - with the Australian's fractionally faster.

Despite being edged into third, the Ferrari's speed off the line this season will keep the four-time world champion keen on Sunday.

Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa and Daniil Kvyat will all benefit from Perez's grid drop, although the Force India has looked a contender all weekend, with Nico Hulkenberg lurking in 12th after a mix-up with his engineers in Q2.

Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen were eighth and ninth, having squabbled over track position on their flying laps, ultimately costing both men.

Jenson Button's power-starved McLaren went out in Q1 for the first time this year, prompting a withering response from the 2010 world champion as he attempted his final lap, bailing out halfway round and telling his team: "Yeah, it's not happening - f*** it."


1. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:42.758
2. Sergio Perez (Force India) +0.757secs
3. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +1.208s
4. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +1.208s
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +1.511s
6. Felipe Massa (Williams) +1.725s
7. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) +1.959s
8. Valtteri Bottas (Williams) +2.488s
9. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +2.812s
10. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)  +19.196s