Leclerc takes shock pole amid four red flags in Baku qualifying - The Race
Formula 1

Leclerc takes shock pole amid four red flags in Baku qualifying

Jun 5 2021
By Matt Beer

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.

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.

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.

Qualifying Results

Pos Name Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m42.241s 1m41.659s 1m41.218s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m41.545s 1m41.634s 1m41.45s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1m41.76s 1m41.625s 1m41.563s
4 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1m42.288s 1m41.932s 1m41.565s
5 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1m42.121s 1m41.74s 1m41.576s
6 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1m42.167s 1m41.813s 1m41.747s
7 Sergio Pérez Red Bull-Honda 1m41.968s 1m41.63s 1m41.917s
8 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 1m42.521s 1m41.654s 1m42.211s
9 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1m42.934s 1m42.195s 1m42.327s
10 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m42.701s 1m42.106s 1m42.659s
11 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m42.46s 1m42.224s
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1m42.426s 1m42.273s
13 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1m42.304s 1m42.558s
14 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m42.923s 1m42.587s
15 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1m42.728s 1m42.758s
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1m43.128s
17 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1m44.158s
18 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 1m44.238s
19 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes
20 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari

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