In Monaco, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc raised some eyebrows when he secured pole position in part by crashing after his fast lap and ending qualifying. During today’s qualifying session in Baku, it was another crash that ended the session with Leclerc on top—but it wasn’t his own car.
Conditions were beautiful as qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but it dawned poorly for George Russell, whose Williams lost power in the third practice session. Then, four minutes into the session, Lance Stroll lost control of his Aston Martin and brushed the wall in Turn 15, knocking his right front tire off. A red flag came out, putting an end to the session while the accident was cleaned up. Charles Leclerc was the only driver who managed to set a timed lap, but it served to give Russell and his Williams team an opportunity to repair the car. He was able to get behind the wheel before the session went back green.
Another red flag was flown with nine minutes left in the session after Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo collided with the Turn 15 wall in a similar fashion to Stroll. At that point, only 10 drivers had set lap times, and with nine minutes left and the opportunity for another crash, there was no guarantee that anyone would make it through the session.
Thankfully, no one else lost a tire in the Turn 15 wall, which meant every driver who had yet to set a lap was able to do it. And, as you’d probably expect, Lewis Hamilton managed to set the fastest time.
16. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
17. Mick Schumacher (Haas)
18. Nikita Mazepin (Haas)
19. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
20. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
Q2 proceeded without incident until only two minutes remained. McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo became the third driver to make contact with the Turn 15 wall. After locking up, Ricciardo struck the wall almost head-on, making it one of the nastier accidents that occurred during the day. A red flag flew on a Max Verstappen-Sergio Perez-Lewis Hamilton top three—and the session was stopped, since there wasn’t enough time for things to get restarted and have all drivers run a warmup and then fast lap.
That signaled heartbreak for Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, who was three tenths away from Q3.
11. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)
12. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
13. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
14. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
15. George Russell (Williams)
Q3 promised a heady battle between Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, but it was Charles Leclerc who took the top slot during qualifying during the first few minutes. The biggest surprise, though, was the performance of the AlphaTauri team, with Pierre Gasly embarking on a lap that initially looked set to take pole but ultimately secured him a fourth-place starting position.
Yet another red flag flew with mere seconds to go after Yuki Tsunoda and Carlos Sainz Jr. both lost control. Tsunoda slammed into the wall, while Sainz appeared to attempt to slow down but locked up and slapped his front wing into the wall.
That meant Leclerc maintained his pole position for the second time in a row, this time without crashing to secure it.
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing)
- Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
- Carlos Sainz Jr. (Ferrari)
- Lando Norris (McLaren)
- Sergio Perez (Red Bull Racing)
- Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
- Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
- Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)