It is now back to back pole positions for Charles Leclerc and Scuderia Ferrari, as he takes his ninth career pole in chaotic qualifying.
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix qualifying will go down as one to remember with four red flags causing havoc throughout the session, with the final incident involving the other Scuderia Ferrari of Carlos Sainz Jr as he got distracted by Yuki Tsunoda.
Tsunoda who made it into his first ever qualifying three, carried too much corner speed into turn three sending him into the wall, with Sainz behind him spinning into the run off area destroying his front wing as he too collided with the barrier after being distracted by Tsunoda’s crash ahead.
This brought out the red flag at the end of final qualifying, meaning no driver was able to improve on their first flying lap, meaning that Leclerc who had the quickest opening run of the final qualifying session will line up for the race at the front of the pack.
Unless Leclerc has warm up lap gremlins again on Sunday, he will finally start a race this season from pole position, although he is aware that there are cars around him with quicker pace.
“I am very happy. I tried to take things step by step and only push in Q3 today. It seems to have worked out pretty well. I had good references – I knew where I could gain and where I could push more, and that’s what I did.After the first lap, I was reasonably happy but I did lose quite a bit at turns 4-5-6. On the second timed lap I was quite a lot stronger, but then the session was stopped by the red flag.”
“But it’s pole anyway, so I am very happy with that.Our race pace is not as strong as that of our competitors ahead of us in the championship, so I believe it will be very difficult to keep them behind in the race. The straights are very long here, and it is easy to overtake. We will give everything, and hopefully we can have another positive surprise tomorrow.”
“I will do my absolute best to recover” – Sainz
Carlos Sainz Jr will be wondering what could’ve been, as he too had looked strong all weekend in the run up to qualifying. The Spaniard was in fact improving on his best lap time from final qualifying right up until turn three, where a crashed Yuki Tsunoda meant Sainz had no option but to lock up and go down the run-off.
With the lack of time to react to the scenario Sainz span into the runoff colliding with the barrier whilst doing so, leaving the possibility of damage to the gearbox. With Sainz being unable to improve on his best lap time due to the incident, he will line up in fifth place for Sunday’s race, where he will do his best to recover and make it two podiums on the bounce.
“A very frustrating qualifying for me again today. I am disappointed we couldn’t extract all the potential of the car due to the circumstances. I was improving my lap time on the last attempt when the AlphaTauri crashed in front of me. I saw the smoke from the lock up but hoped he had continued. When I saw the crash it was too late and I ended up touching the barriers.”
“At these speeds, the outcome could have been much worse, but the car seems to be ok.On the positive side, our pace was strong, even more than we expected before coming to Baku. Congrats to Charles for putting it on pole. Overall it’s a great result for the team. Now we’ll start preparing for the race and I will do my absolute best to recover tomorrow.”