Rosberg on pole in Baku after Hamilton hits wall

Sat Jun 18, 2016 11:24am EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

BAKU (Reuters) - Championship leader Nico Rosberg took pole position for Azerbaijan's first Formula One Grand Prix on Saturday after Mercedes team mate and title rival Lewis Hamilton hit a wall and qualified only 10th.

Mexican Sergio Perez qualified second for Force India but will drop five places due to an unscheduled gearbox change after he crashed in final practice on the Baku street circuit.

That demotion lifted Red Bull's Australian Daniel Ricciardo to the front row for Sunday's European Grand Prix with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel third and the German's Finnish team mate Kimi Raikkonen fourth.

"They've done a great job up to now, with the track especially," said Rosberg, who had been slower than triple world champion Hamilton in practice but may yet have the last laugh.

"It was an exciting qualifying. It's one of the easiest places to overtake so it should be an exciting race."

The pole was the 25th of Rosberg's career and first since Russia in April when Hamilton also qualified 10th after an engine failure.

The German won that race with Hamilton second.

Saturday's pole will have been all the sweeter for the German after Hamilton criticized rivals, including Rosberg, for 'moaning' about details of the street circuit whose layout winds around ancient city walls but also has long straights.   Continued...

Formula One - Grand Prix of Europe - Baku, Azerbaijan - 18/6/16 - Mercedes Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany waves to photographers after the qualifying session. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov