Charles Leclerc secures shock pole position for Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Azerbaijan, Baku Street Circuitaz

In a tight qualifying battle between Red Bull and Ferrari, Charles Leclerc displayed an eye-watering performance to come out on top to secure the pole position for Sunday's Azerbaijan Grand Prix, beating championship leader Max Verstappen by two tenths of a second. F1Technical's Balázs Szabó reports on the thrilling Baku qualifying session.

The opening part of the incident-filled first qualifying segment saw AlphaTauri driver Nyck de Vries hit the barriers down at Turn 3. Replays showed that he just went in too fast, jammed on the brakes and couldn't make the corner, going straight on into the barriers. The session was stopped to clear the track and make repairs to the barriers.

Just after the session was restarted, the red flags came back out. Alpine's Pierre Gasly touched the wall at Turn 3 and was forced to limp with front end damage The Frenchman carried too much speed into the corner, and connected with the back first before the front wing caught on the barriers.

Once the walls were repaired, drivers were in a hurry to hit the track in order to set competitive lap times. Ferrari's Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc topped the session, displaying impressive pace on a track which he expected to highlight the weakness of his Ferrari SF23.

Zhou Guanyu, Nico Hulkenberg, Kevin Magnussen, Pierre Gasly and Nyck de Vries were eliminated in Q1.

The second session turned out to be a much more straightforward session with Verstappen pipping Leclerc. Sergio Perez finished P3 with Sainz picking up his pace following his difficult start to the session to end up fourth fastest.

Mercedes failed to nail the setup in the sole practice session which meant that they struggled for pace in Q2. In the end, Lewis Hamilton grabbed the final spot in Q3 at the expense of team mate George Russell which came as a shock result for the Anglo-German squad following their strong performance in Melbourne.

Lando Norris continued to impress in Q2 aboard his updated McLaren en route to sixth, with AlphaTauri also displaying strong performance thanks to a great lap from Yuki Tsunoda following their difficult start to the season.

George Russell, Esteban Ocon, Alex Albon, Valtteri Bottas and Logan Sargeant were eliminated in Q2.

The last qualifying segment saw Red Bull and Ferrari continue their battle for the front two rows with both teams finding a significant improvement in Q3 compared to the previous two sessions. Following the first run, Verstappen led the way with a 1m40.445, but Leclerc set an identical time with Perez and Sainz settling for P3 and P4 respectively.

But when the second runs got under way, Ferrari's Monegasque picked up the pace again to clock a blistering 1m 40.203s, with Verstappen only managing a 1m 40.391s and Perez a 1m40.495s, giving Leclerc a third successive pole around the Baku track.

Sainz managed to qualify himself P4 following difficulties in the opening sessions with Hamilton taking fifth. Alonso secured P5, beating his Canadian teammate Lance Stroll by over four tenths of a second. Norris made good use of McLaren's upgrades to secure P7 with Tsunoda ending the session eighth fastest while McLaren's Australian rookie driver Oscar Piastri rounded out the top ten for Sunday's Azerbaijan Grand Prix.


116Charles LeclercFerrari1:41.2691:41.0371:40.20321
21Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt1:41.3981:40.8221:40.39120
311Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt1:41.7561:41.1311:40.49521
455Carlos SainzFerrari1:42.1971:41.3691:41.01624
544Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:42.1131:41.6501:41.17724
614Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:41.7201:41.3701:41.25323
74Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:42.1541:41.4851:41.28120
822Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Honda Rbpt1:42.2341:41.5691:41.58123
918Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:42.5241:41.5761:41.61123
1081Oscar PiastriMclaren Mercedes1:42.4551:41.6361:41.61124
1163George RussellMercedes1:42.0731:41.65418
1231Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:42.6221:41.79819
1323Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes1:42.1711:41.81819
1477Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:42.5821:42.25919
152Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes1:42.2421:42.39519
1624Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:42.64211
1727Nico HulkenbergHaas Ferrari1:42.75510
1820Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:43.4179
1910Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault1:44.8536
NC21Nyck De VriesAlphatauri Honda Rbpt1:55.2823