Charles Leclerc secured the pole position for the 2021 Azerbaijan GP after the qualifying session saw four red flags due to multiple crashes.


Scuderia Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc takes his career's ninth pole position
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Scuderia Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc takes his career’s ninth pole position

Charles Leclerc secured his second consecutive pole of the season at the end of a chaotic Q3 in Baku. The Azerbaijan Grand Prix qualifying session was interrupted by a total of four red flags with the last one disrupting the final runs for all drivers in Q3. With no driver able to complete their final laps, Leclerc claimed a surprise pole position, replicating a similar turn of events on Monaco last week.

Leclerc gained an advantage in the final sector over Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and secured the provisional pole with a time of 1m41.218s. The time proved to be enough to keep the pole position as Yuki Tsunoda and Carlos Sainz crashed in separate incidents in the final seconds of Q3.

After a forgetful practice session, Lewis Hamilton benefitted from having a tow from teammate Valtteri Bottas as he completed an impressive recovery effort by Mercedes to secure a spot on the front row, just 0.232s off from Leclerc’s time. With pace issues on the Mercedes, both drivers struggled hard to set the times to make it into Q3, but Hamilton’s strong performance does bring a lot of confidence in the team for the race proceedings on Sunday.

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The fourth and final red flag was brought out with just a few seconds left in Q3

More importantly, Hamilton will start ahead of title contender Max Verstappen in the Red Bull who posted the third-quickest time in qualifying, ahead of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly who starts at an impressive fourth place. Sainz starts at P5 on the grid, having set a good enough time before his crash. McLaren’s Lando Norris was the sixth-fastest is under investigation for a potential red flag procedure breach in Q1.

Also scoring a good result despite the crash is Tsunoda who made his first Q3 appearance in F1. Alpine’s Fernando Alonso claimed ninth while Bottas sacrificed his first lap to give Hamilton a tow and starts 10th. Daniel Ricciardo crashed in Q2, which also prevented Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel to progress into Q3, while Esteban Ocon managed to only take 12th in his Alpine. Ricciardo now starts at 13th, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in the Alfa Romeo while George Russell took 16th.

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Nicholas Latifi missed Q2 by two-tenths of a second and starts 16th, while Haas drivers Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin will start at 17th and 18th positions respectively. Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi round up the grid for the 2021 Azerbaijan GP.

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