With only one practice session and several weeks away from Formula One, the drivers really were struggling to get a grip of their cars again as for the first time this season, they took to the track for qualifying on a Friday.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finally managed to get the better of the Red Bull’s to beat Max Verstappen to top spot by 0.188 seconds.
Their two team finished in third and fourth, with Sergio Perez (Red Bull) ahead of Carlos Sainz (Ferrari).
It took 44 minutes to complete the first part of the session, with two red flags bringing running to a halt.
The first was for Nyck de Vries, who put his Alpha Tauri in the wall, leading to a delay as the barrier was repaired.
The barrier that was just replaced was in need of repair work again as Gasly crashed into the wall at Turn 3. bringing out the red flag once again.
De Vries, Gasly, Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Nico Hulkenberg (Haas) and Zhou Guanyu were all eliminated at the end of the session.
It took a little while for the Ferraris and Red Bulls to take to the circuit in Q2, being joined by McLaren’s Lando Norris as the only cars remaining in the pitlane.
Williams’ Alexander Albon briefly went fastest, before Fernando Alonso’s (Aston Martin) blistering lap time sent him top of the timesheets.
Then followed fast laps from the Red Bull pair, with Perez topping the leaderboard by 0.06 seconds over Verstappen.
There was concern in the Mercedes garage as Lewis Hamilton and George Russell found themselves tumbling down the order, the latter in an elimination position.
Russell wouldn’t be able to better his time and aborted his final run, finishing down in 11th place, with Hamilton scrapping through in tenth.
Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) and Logan Sargeant (Williams) joined Russell in being eliminated from the qualifying.
Verstappen immediately set the pace in the opening runs of Q3, going a tenth faster than Perez, however, Leclerc matched the lap time of Verstappen, with the Dutch driver on top due to him setting his lap time first.
Then on the final run, Leclerc set a lap time of 1:40.203 which was enough to give him provisional pole position, although Verstappen still had his lap to complete.
All eyes were on the Red Bull, but it wasn’t enough as Verstappen finished in second and allowed Leclerc to complete his Baku pole hat-trick and become the first non-Red Bull driver to top qualifying this season.
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