Leclerc snatches sprint pole position in Baku
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc claimed pole position for the Baku F1 Sprint at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after getting the better of the Red Bull duo of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen in a thrilling sprint shootout qualifying session.
With the first qualifying segment lasting only twelve minutes, drivers did not hesitate and went out quite early on in the session to set meaningful lap times on their only new set of medium tyres.
At the start of the session, Charles Leclerc continued where he left off yesterday by setting competitive lap times to top the first segment of the first ever sprint shootout. Red Bull appeared to be in good form again with Max Verstappen finishing up second. However, his teammate Sergio Perez looked to struggle for pace on the dirty track.
With only 25 seconds to go, the red flags came out as Williams racer Logan Sargeant ran slightly wide through Turn 15 when passing a Ferrari, and just caught the barriers with his rear wheel. The session was not restarted.
The incident caught out Tsunoda, who was competitive yesterday and looked to be on a good lap in the dying stages of the first qualifying segment when the session was red-flagged due to Sargeant’s mistake. Pierre Gasly was also eliminated because his Alpine was hampered by a suspected exhaust leak.
Guanyu Zhou, Valtteri Bottas, Yuki Tsunoda, Pierre Gasly and Nyck de Vries were eliminated in Q1.
In the second shootout session, only 14 cars were jostling for position with Sargeant forced to sit out the session despite his progression.
Verstappen topped the second session on another new set of medium tyres with Leclerc finishing up in P2, followed by Perez and Sainz.
Both Mercedes managed to get through into Q3 with the Aston Martins also progressing into the final part of the shootout session. However, Stroll needed the help of his teammate Alonso with the Spaniard towing him across the last part of the circuit which was enough to get the Canadian through into the top ten.
Williams’ racer Alexander Albon continued his great run in Baku, setting a good enough time for Q3 with McLaren’s Lando Norris also getting into the top ten.
Oscar Piastri, Nico Hulkenberg, Esteban Ocon, Kevin Magnussen and Logan Sargeant were eliminated in Q2.
Charles Leclerc takes pole for the #F1Sprint in the most dramatic of circumstances! 😅— Formula 1 (@F1) April 29, 2023
The @ScuderiaFerrari driver put an incredible lap in prior to meeting the barriers on his final run 🙈#AzerbaijanGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/XlqIK2ud4f
In SQ3, drivers had a single set of fresh tyres with all of them required to use the soft compound. It meant that drivers needed to get used to the softer compound quickly to get the best out of them in the all-important sprint qualifying segment.
Following his shock pole position from yesterday, Leclerc set a 1m41.697s amid the first runs in the eight-minute SQ3 session which proved unassailable. The Monegasque attempted a second push lap, but he put his Ferrari into the barrier at Turn 5, but only damaged his front wing and was able to back it out of the wall.
On his second hot lap, Perez crossed the line 0.15s shy of Leclerc's benchmark to secure P2, pipping his teammate Max Verstappen.
George Russell claimed fourth on the grid for the shortened Saturday race, beating Ferrari’s Sainz and his teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Williams’ Thai driver Albon will start the sprint from seventh ahead of Alonso, who was suffering amid continued DRS issues at Aston Martin. The two-time champion’s teammate was ninth quickest, while Norris could not run in SQ3 having no sets of soft tyres left.
|2||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda Rbpt||1:43.858||1:42.925||1:41.844||15|
|3||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda Rbpt||1:43.288||1:42.417||1:41.987||13|
|7||23||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||1:43.987||1:43.376||1:42.846||17|
|8||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:43.789||1:42.976||1:43.010||16|
|9||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:43.879||1:43.375||1:43.064||17|
|10||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:43.938||1:43.395||12|
|11||81||Oscar Piastri||Mclaren Mercedes||1:44.179||1:43.427||12|
|12||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Haas Ferrari||1:44.843||1:43.806||12|
|13||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:44.433||1:44.088||11|
|14||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:44.101||1:44.332||11|
|15||2||Logan Sargeant||Williams Mercedes||1:44.042||6|
|16||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:45.177||6|
|17||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:45.352||6|
|18||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda Rbpt||1:45.436||6|
|19||10||Pierre Gasly||Alpine Renault||1:46.951||3|
|20||21||Nyck De Vries||Alphatauri Honda Rbpt||1:48.180||6|