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Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2022

Leclerc storms to pole position in eventful Baku qualifying

Charles Leclerc has secured pole position for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, ahead of a fast Sergio Perez.

Leclerc Baku
To news overview © XPB

Charles Leclerc will start the Azerbaijan Grand Prix from the front of the pack after claiming pole position in an eventful qualifying session.

After much swapping of fastest times throughout the hour between Red Bull and Ferrari – and in particular Sergio Perez and Leclerc – it was Leclerc who eventually came out on top with a time of 1:41.359.

Perez secured P2, demoting teammate Max Verstappen down to third, and Carlos Sainz will line up in fourth, despite having been on provisional pole following the first runs.

George Russell clinched fifth, with Pierre Gasly in sixth and Lewis Hamilton seventh. Yuki Tsunoda, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso complete the top 10.

Result Qualification - Azerbaijan

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A close battle in Q2 between Ferrari and Red Bull

There was much jostling for position between Ferrari and Red Bull during the first runs of Q2. Leclerc seemed to be pushing to the limit, with the Monegasque having a slight wobble after taking a lot of kerb at Turn 16.

Sainz was initially ahead. The Spaniard had set a time just over nine hundreths of a second ahead of his teammate, but Leclerc later leapfrogged him.

There was a moment of deja vu for Aston Martin. Vettel hit a soft barrier at Turn 15 after locking up, in a similar incident to one that involved Lance Stroll in Q1. The four-time World Champion was able to make it back to the pits.

As Q2 progressed, Perez put himself back to the top of the timesheets, following on from his solid form in Free Practice 3 earlier in the day.

In off-track matters, it was announced in the latter stages of the session that the stewards would investigate Hamilton after qualifying for allegedly driving unnecessarily slowly.

There were a few skirmishes off circuit for some in the last laps, including Lando Norris. The Briton failed to make it out of Q2, and will line up on the grid in P11.

McLaren teammate Daniel Ricciardo followed in P12, and the others not to make it to Q3 were Esteban Ocon (P13), Zhou Guanyu (P14) and Valtteri Bottas (P15).

Red flags spark frantic end to Q1

It was a busy start to Q1, with cars queued up in the pit lane. Qualifying got underway 15 minutes later than originally planned; this was due to a delayed start to Free Practice 3, with the regulations stating that there must be at least two hours between the end of the last practice session and the start of qualifying.

As everyone battled to get track room, Russell accused Verstappen of driving in an "erratic manner" over team radio.

Bottas had an eventful FP3 earlier, with a couple of trips down the escape road, and again made an error in qualifying, leaving him at the bottom of the timesheets for much of Q1. He did manage to haul himself out of danger later on, though.

Stroll also had a misdeamonour by making contact with the barrier at Turn 7 in the final minutes of the session, which briefly brought out the yellow flags.

However, soon afterwards he hit the wall at Turn 2 with more force, resulting in debris on the track and a red flag halting the session.

This put those drivers at risk under pressure when the action resumed. With only two and a half minutes left on the clock, there was a frantic race to get a final lap in. Everybody crossed the line in time, but not all drivers could improve.

A yellow flag in the dying moments – caused by Alonso having a moment in Sector 2 – may have caused problems for some. Alex Albon was amongst those affected, and voiced his anger towards Alonso on the radio afterwards.

As well as Stroll being eliminated in P19, the other names who ultimately failed to make it out of Q1 were Kevin Magnussen (P16), Albon (P17), Nicholas Latifi (P18) and Mick Schumacher (P19).

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F1 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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