Leclerc on pole position after eventful Baku qualifying

Four red flags in incident-filled qualifying for Azerbaijan Grand Prix

GP AZERBAIJAN F1/2021 - VENERDÌ 04/06/2021 credit: @Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Charles Leclerc will start the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on pole position after setting the best time in an action-packed qualifying in Baku.

The session was disrupted by four red flags, including one at the end of Q3 which halted a number of the pole contenders on their flying laps.

Q1 was red flagged just a few minutes in when Lance Stroll locked up at turn 15, colliding with the barrier and leaving his front right tyre handing off his Aston Martin.

The delay helped the Williams mechanics, who were still working on George Russell’s car at the start of qualifying, with a water leak in final practice forcing the team to change his power unit.

The Briton was able to take to the track when the session restarted, but proceedings came to a halt again when Antonio Giovinazzi slid into the wall with just over nine minutes left in Q1 – when just 10 drivers had managed to complete a flying lap.

Both Haas cars were also eliminated in the first part of qualifying, along with Williams’ Nicholas Latifi.

Q2 was cut short when Daniel Ricciardo found the barrier with 90 seconds remaining, costing himself a place in the top 10.

There was also frustration for Sebastian Vettel, who missed out on back to back appearances in Q3 by less than 0.03s.

Lewis Hamilton benefitted from a toe from teammate Valtteri Bottas to put himself in contention for a spot on the front row, while Leclerc, who was behind both Mercedes cars, also made the most of the slip stream.

Bottas, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez were all pushing to catch the duo when Yuki Tsunoda, taking part in Q3 for the first time, locked up and struck the barrier.

Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz, possibly distracted by Tsunoda’s incident, clipped the inside of the corner and ripped of his front wing.

Lando Norris provisionally qualifies in P6, but the McLaren driver is under investigation by the stewards for a possible infringement during the first red flag period.

Provisional qualifying result:

1 Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

4. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)

5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)

6. Lando Norris (McLaren)

7. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)

8. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)

9. Fernando Alonso (Alpine)

10. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)

11. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)

12. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)

13. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)

14. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)

15. George Russell (Williams)

16. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)

17. Mick Schumacher (Haas)

18. Nikita Mazepin (Haas)

19. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)

20. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)

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