Ferrari's Charles Leclerc did it again, saving the best for last and beating everybody in qualifying to take pole position for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Sergio Perez was second fastest as he left Verstappen disappointed in third.
Qualifying was delayed by 15 minutes as the F2 session earlier on was lengthened due to an accident. This allowed motorsport fans to watch the start of the Le Mans 24h while not having to miss any action in F1.
When it did get going it was immediately with everybody out on track. Cars queued up in the pitlane to get going, but as everyone tried to create their own gap when going, those further back were getting frustrated by the delays. Norris was first out on track, ahead of Alonso and Norris, but it were the Red Bulls who ended up fastest.
Apart from some drivers missing some corners and reversing back to the track, there were no major incidents until Stroll blocked wheels and ended up head on in a tecpro barrier. No worries, he reversed and continued while reporting he had a serious lack of front end. The warning didn't have too much of an effect on the Aston Martin driver though as the Canadian ended up breaking his front suspension 3 corners later, this time forcing him to end qualifying and causing a red flag to get the car and its loose front wing cleared.
The session got restarted with 2 minutes and 30 seconds left on the clock, forcing many to go out immediately, creating yet another queue in the pitlane to get going. Once out, the cars at the back were so close to make it through to the finish line that they practically raced the out-lap with especially the McLarens and Haas drivers making it each other difficult.
They eventually all made it and managed to start their flying lap, and for many, it was a highly needed effort. Bottas and Alonso in particular had to improve, and fortunately for them, both did enough to get out of the trouble zone and into Q2.
Q2 saw a lot of minor incidents once again. Norris missed and spun in the run-off of Turn 16 but managed to continue. Leclerc kissed the wall on the entry of Turn 7 as Verstappen did so on the exit. Vettel nearly broke his front wing when missing Turn 15 but was lucky to get away with it, going on to go through into Q3 with the 7th fastest time.
Both McLarens and Alfa Romeo's failed to make it through, along with Ocon. The latter was dominated by Alonso on Friday but was faster so far in qualifying.
Alonso then headed the field as they went out of the pitlane for the final shootout. The Spaniard didn't have the greatest of laps but just like both Mercedes and both AlphaTauris he did his first lap on used softs as they had just one new set left.
Both Ferraris and Red Bulls did have new tyres and therefore predictably occupied the first four spots after the first runs. Perhaps surprisingly it was Sainz who was fastest, 0.047s ahead of Leclerc, 0.126 faster than Perez and an extra 0.049 on Verstappen. The latter did set the best second and third sectors but lost too much time to the Ferraris in the first sector.
As Sainz failed to improve on his second run, Leclerc completed an impressive lap and shaved off more than half a second off his previous best. Verstappen also improved and moved up into second only to be demoted to third when Perez crossed the finish line. Both Red bull drivers later blamed engine issues ahead of the final lap, leading them into missing a tow and losing "a few tenths", according to Perez.
Behind the top 4, Russell ended up fastest, albeit nearly a full second behind Sainz, underlining how the battle in front really still is a two-team fight.
|2||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:42.733||1:41.955||1:41.641||18|
|3||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:42.722||1:42.227||1:41.706||19|
|6||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:43.268||1:43.129||1:42.845||23|
|8||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:43.595||1:43.376||1:43.056||22|
|9||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:43.279||1:43.268||1:43.091||18|
|10||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:44.083||1:43.360||1:43.173||20|
|11||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:44.237||1:43.398||16|
|12||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:44.437||1:43.574||17|
|13||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:43.903||1:43.585||13|
|14||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:43.777||1:43.790||13|
|15||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:44.478||1:44.444||13|
|16||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:44.643||9|
|17||23||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||1:44.719||9|
|18||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:45.367||8|
|19||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:45.371||7|
|20||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:45.775||9|