Charles Leclerc gave Ferrari its second straight Formula 1 pole position with a shock result in an Azerbaijan Grand Prix qualifying session disrupted by four red flags.
Crashes at Turn 15 by Lance Stroll and Antonio Giovinazzi punctuated Q1, while Q2 was truncated by Daniel Ricciardo going into the wall at Turn 3 and then the pole shootout was effectively decided by Carlos Sainz Jr and Yuki Tsunoda crashing simultaneously as drivers embarked on their final flying laps.
The fourth red flag of the session brought qualifying to a premature end 🚩
— Formula 1 (@F1) June 5, 2021
Lewis Hamilton joins Leclerc on the front row despite Mercedes having struggled all weekend until qualifying, with championship leader Max Verstappen’s Red Bull only third.
Leclerc – who failed to take up his pole start in Monaco a fortnight ago as a consequence of his qualifying crash – had benefited from an inadvertent tow from Hamilton to put in a 1m41.218s early in Baku Q3.
That proved unbeatable on the first runs, with Hamilton 0.232s adrift and Verstappen 0.345s away.
The second runs were then prevented by Tsunoda – in his first Q3 appearance – going into the wall at Turn 3 and then a distracted Sainz spinning into the barriers at the escape road moments later.
Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri team-mate Pierre Gasly equalled his career-best F1 start with fourth ahead of Sainz.
McLaren’s Lando Norris qualified sixth but he’ll start ninth on the grid after picking up a three-place grid drop for a red flag infringement.
The second Red Bull of Sergio Perez could only manage seventh in qualifying after locking up into Turn 4 and running wide. He’ll start in sixth place because of Norris’ penalty, ahead of Tsunoda and Fernando Alonso’s Alpine.
Valtteri Bottas is right back in 10th in the second Mercedes – his worst starting position since the 2019 Abu Dhabi GP.
Other than depositing culprits Stroll and Giovinazzi on the back row, the Q1 red flags made little difference to the order.
Though the Mercedes, AlphaTauris and McLarens were among the cars that hadn’t put flying laps in before the stoppages, all did so smoothly once the second crash was cleared, leaving Nicholas Latifi’s Williams and the two Haas cars as the others eliminated.
The Ricciardo-prompted Q2 red flag was more disruptive, coming with 1m28s left on the clock and denying everyone their final laps.
🚩 RED FLAG 🚩
📻 "Yep, yeah I'm okay"
— Formula 1 (@F1) June 5, 2021
As well as leaving Ricciardo’s McLaren 13th on the grid, it halted Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Ocon’s bids for Q3, with a highly frustrated Vettel missing out by just 0.029s as his Aston Martin joined Ocon’s Alpine on row six.
The Q1 stoppages helped George Russell continue his run of reaching Q2 in 2021, giving Williams time to complete the engine change required after his problem in final practice. He qualified behind Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo in 15th.
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-Honda||1m41.76s||1m41.625s||1m41.563s|
|5||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Ferrari||1m42.121s||1m41.74s||1m41.576s|
|7||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull-Honda||1m41.968s||1m41.63s||1m41.917s|
|11||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin-Mercedes||1m42.46s||1m42.224s|
|14||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||1m42.923s||1m42.587s|
|19||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes|
|20||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari|