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Charles Leclerc

Leclerc edges Verstappen to claim shock Baku Pole Position

Charles Leclerc claimed Pole Position for Azerbaijan Grand Prix after defeating Max Verstappen in an intense qualifying battle in Baku.

Leclerc Pole
To news overview © XPBimages

Charles Leclerc secured Ferrari's first Pole Position of the Formula 1 season after defeating Max Verstappen in an intense qualifying shootout.

With the opening exchanges of Q3 resulting in identical lap times between Verstappen and Leclerc, the Red Bull driver took provisional Pole Position by setting the lap time earlier than the Ferrari driver.

The pressure was therefore on Leclerc, who delivered a 1:40.203 to take top spot by one tenth of a second and claim his third consecutive Azerbaijan GP Pole Position.

Sergio Perez fell over two tenths off the pace to take third in the second Red Bull, with the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz taking P4, giving fans a teaser of a Red Bull versus Ferrari duel on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton managed to salvage fifth for Mercedes despite almost falling out of Q2, with Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso taking P6.

Lando Norris took a much-improved McLaren to P7, and had teammate Oscar Piastri backing him up in P10.

AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda took an impressive P8, with Aston Martin's Lance Stroll in P9.

Russell out in shock Mercedes elimination

With Mercedes looking unlikely to compete with the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari, George Russell was a surprise elimination in Q2, finishing just four thousandths of a second behind teammate Hamilton, who scraped through.

Esteban Ocon wasn't able to provide the leap forward hoped by Alpine, with the Frenchman only managing P12 ahead of Williams Alex Albon, who believed a top ten appearance was possible without interference from Sainz.

Valtteri Bottas was the lead Alfa Romeo in P14, whilst Logan Sargeant enjoyed his first Q2 appearance of the season for Williams, finishing P15.

Q1: De Vries and Gasly crash out of contention

AlphaTauri's Nyck de Vries was the first driver to fall foul of the punishing Baku street circuit. The Dutchman locked up under braking for the tricky Turn 3, avoided the temptation to take to the run-off area, and struck the barriers on the exit of the corner.

Not long after the restart, the session was stopped again for a similar incident for Alpine's Pierre Gasly, who had already faced a race against time to be ready for qualifying with a dramatic free practice exit.

Gasly also locked up on the approach to Turn 3, but the backend of the car slid round and tagged the same barrier that ended De Vries' session.

The third Q1 elimination came three minutes from the end when Haas' Kevin Magnussen was told to return to the pits with a technical problem.

With just two drivers set to occupy the final two elimination spots, Alfa Romeo's Zhou Guanyu (P16) missed out on Q2 by 0.02s, and Haas' Nico Hulkenberg took the final slot available spot in P17.

Result Qualification - Azerbaijan

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F1 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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