Credit: Formula One

F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Charles Leclerc takes pole in Sprint Shootout

Charles Leclerc has taken pole for the Sprint Race, his second pole in two days.

It was the same story as we saw yesterday, with the Ferrari showing its pace yet again over one lap. Even after crashing in his final SQ3 lap, the Monegasque’s first lap was still good enough to beat Sergio Perez in the Red Bull, who will line up second.

SQ1 was dramatic and frenetic from the off, with every driver setting their laps on the mandatory medium tyres. Pierre Gasly had another horrid showing, whose first lap wasn’t fast enough to reach the top 15, and he ran out of time to set another lap after that. His ex-teammate Yuki Tsunoda was the unluckiest of the bunch though and was going much faster until Logan Sargent bought out the red flags following a crash at turn 15.

So, the first five eliminated were: Nyck de Vries, Pierre Gasly, Yuki Tsunoda, Valtteri Bottas, and Zhou Guanyu.

In SQ2, the medium tyres were mandatory again and after his crash prior, Williams driver Logan Sargent wouldn’t take part after breaking his rear right suspension and rear wing in SQ1. It was nip and tuck between the two McLaren drivers too, with Lando Norris pipping his teammate to SQ3; Oscar Piastri in 11th. The former wouldn’t be able to take part in SQ3 though, as he had no soft tyres left. The red-walled Pirelli’s are mandatory in the final Qualifying session.

From 15th to 11th, the eliminated drivers were: Logan Sargent, Kevin Magnussen, Esteban Ocon, Nico Hülkenberg, and Oscar Piastri.

With only eight minutes to set the fastest lap in SQ3, the drivers had to get straight out onto the track, and it was the Red Bulls at the front of the queue. The two sat there for around four minutes before the light went green at the end of the pitlane and we got underway.

Sergio Pérez set the early benchmark and his teammate Max Verstappen couldn’t beat him after a huge slide in the second sector following a loss of rear grip. Charles Leclerc then took the session by storm and set the purple sectors he needed after everyone’s first laps, setting a time of 1:41:679.

Alex Albon was one of the standouts of qualifying, finishing in seventh place, beating both Aston Martin’s who had DRS issues.

Checo Perez was again putting pressure on the team from Maranello, as he set a purple first sector before Leclerc bought the yellow flags out after crashing and breaking his front wing. The former could not beat the pole time though, even with another purple sector at the end of the lap.

World Champion Max Verstappen didn’t have the session he would’ve wanted and will line up on the second row behind his teammate and ahead of George Russell.

The Sprint Race gets underway at 14:30.

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