Formula 1

Charles Leclerc on top in Baku qualifying

3 Mins read
Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Charles Leclerc claimed his second pole position in a row during a chaotic qualifying session for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. There was a total of four red flags, the most since the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2016.

Q1 – Turn 15 not for everyone

Turn 15 was the villain in Q1. Not once but twice did we see red flags due to crashes at the corner. Lance Stroll was the first to collied with the wall just four minutes into the session. He locked up and had nowhere to go. 

Antonio Giovinazzi also found himself in a spot of trouble. He locked up and went straight into the wall, not able to slow down. Both Stroll and Giovinazzi hadn’t set times meaning they didn’t make it out of Q1.

The Uralkali Haas F1 Team drivers weren’t able to make it to Q2. Nikita Mazepin will start eighteenth with Mick Schumacher ahead of him in seventeenth. Nicholas Latifi was the one that just missed out on Q2, he’ll be starting sixteenth.

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team and McLaren F1 Team hadn’t set times after the two red flags so had to continue with warn tyres. However, all drivers from both teams got through to Q2, with Lewis Hamilton topping the session.

George Russell nearly didn’t make qualifying. He came into an issue during the mornings practice and his team worked hard to get the car ready. Luckily, the red flags were on his side, and he was able to participate and get through to Q2.

Lando Norris is due to be investigated after qualifying for red flag procedures. He was out on a lap and felt he was going too quick to come into the pit so stayed out, which is against regulations.

Q2 – Ricciardo out early again

Another session, another red flag. This time from the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo. Ricciardo locked up going into Turn 3 and collided with the barrier. He was thirteenth at the time and will start the race there. His accident happened with a minute and a half left on the clock. 

Race control ultimately decided not to restart the session. Sebastian Vettel was audibly annoyed with this decision as he was on a flying lap. He wasn’t able to make it out of Q2 and will start eleventh. 

Esteban Ocon also clipped the wall at Turn 3 but luckily avoided any damage to his car. He will be starting in twelfth tomorrow.

Other omission from Q2 was Kimi Räikkönen who will start fourteenth and George Russell who will be in fifteenth.

Max Verstappen was the fastest overall in Q2 but it was very close up top. Fernando Alonso finished Q2 in tenth, just half a second down and the top five were separated by just 0.034s.

Q3 – A chaotic end to the day

Leclerc claimed his nineth career pole. The Ferrari driver set a lap that no-one could touch. 

Hamilton is starting in second. With the way Mercedes’ weekend had been going, it wasn’t looking like they could get one of their cars so far up the grid. However, Hamilton proved yet again why he is one of the greatest drivers of our time, pulling a flying lap out of nowhere.

The end of qualifying certainly didn’t come without its drama. Yuki Tsunoda crashed at Turn 3 with half a minute left on the clock, red flagging and ending the session. Carlos Sainz Jr. also missed the turning and crashed into the runoff area. They’re starting eighth and fifth respectively.

Verstappen finishes off the top three in third. His session was marred by the red flag and the Dutch driver will surely believe he could have had more.

Pierre Gasly continued to be strong. He’ll start in fourth but was just shy of Verstappen’s third place time. Gasly will be one to watch in the race.

Norris qualified in sixth. He is being investigated for his red flag procedures during Q1 so his position may change come race day.

Sergio Pérez had been speedy all weekend and he will also feel the red flags ruined his day. He could only get a lap that put him seventh fastest.

Alonso out-qualified his Alpine F1 Team teammate for the first time this year. He’ll be starting ninth but has to look over his shoulder with the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas in tenth, another driver whose day was ruined by red flags.

Qualifying Results

116Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow1:42.2411:41.6591:41.21819
244Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:41.5451:41.6341:41.45021
333Max VerstappenNEDRed Bull Racing Honda1:41.7601:41.6251:41.56319
410Pierre GaslyFRAScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1:42.2881:41.9321:41.56518
555Carlos Sainz Jr.ESPScuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow1:42.1211:41.7401:41.57618
64Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team1:42.1671:41.8131:41.74720
711Sergio PérezMEXRed Bull Racing Honda1:41.9681:41.6301:41.91718
822Yuki TsunodaJAPScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1:42.5211:41.6541:42.21119
914Fernando AlonsoESPAlpine F1 Team1:42.9341:42.1951:42.32720
1077Valtteri BottasFINMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:42.7011:42.1061:42.65921
115Sebastian VettelGERAston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team1:42.4601:42.22415
1231Esteban OconFRAAlpine F1 Team1:42.4261:42.27311
133Daniel RicciardoAUSMcLaren F1 Team1:42.3041:42.55814
147Kimi RäikkönenFINAlfa Romeo Racing Orlen1:42.9231:42.58715
1563George RussellGBRWilliams Racing1:42.7281:42.75812
166Nicholas LatifiCANWilliams Racing1:43.1288
1747Mick SchumacherGERUralkali Haas F1 Team1:44.15810
189Nikita MazepinRUSUralkali Haas F1 Team1:44.2389
1918Lance StrollCANAston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team2
2099Antonio GiovinazziITAAlfa Romeo Racing Orlen4
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