Leclerc snatches sprint pole position in Baku

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Azerbaijan, Baku Street Circuitaz

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.

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.


116Charles LeclercFerrari1:42.8201:42.5001:41.69714
211Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt1:43.8581:42.9251:41.84415
31Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt1:43.2881:42.4171:41.98713
463George RussellMercedes1:43.7631:43.1121:42.25218
555Carlos SainzFerrari1:43.6221:42.9091:42.28715
644Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:43.5611:43.0611:42.50217
723Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes1:43.9871:43.3761:42.84617
814Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:43.7891:42.9761:43.01016
918Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:43.8791:43.3751:43.06417
104Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:43.9381:43.39512
1181Oscar PiastriMclaren Mercedes1:44.1791:43.42712
1227Nico HulkenbergHaas Ferrari1:44.8431:43.80612
1331Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:44.4331:44.08811
1420Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:44.1011:44.33211
152Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes1:44.0426
1624Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:45.1776
1777Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:45.3526
1822Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Honda Rbpt1:45.4366
1910Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault1:46.9513
2021Nyck De VriesAlphatauri Honda Rbpt1:48.1806