By Robert Haile
Charles Leclerc has claimed his fourth pole position in a row as he put Ferrari at the front of the grid on the streets of Azerbaijan.
The sixth pole of the season for the Prancing Horse put them in front of both Red Bull drivers with Sergio Perez on the front row with Max Verstappen in third with Carlos Sainz in fourth for Ferrari.
After the qualifying session Leclerc said: “Taking pole position always feels good, but this one is particularly satisfying as I wasn’t expecting it.
“Our competitors looked stronger than us, especially in Q1 and Q2. On my last run in Q3, everything came together. I don’t think I left much on the table and I am very happy with my lap.
“I really look forward to the race. I love street tracks and it’s very special to push to the limit with the walls. Tyre management will be key.
“It’s an element we have managed well in the past two races, so I am optimistic and just want to finish the job.”
Mercedes’ George Russell will start fifth with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly sixth splitting Mercedes who split AlphaTauri with Lewis Hamilton ahead of Yuki Tsunoda.
Rounding out the top ten are Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel in ninth and Alpine’s Fernando Alonso in tenth.
In the second session it was four drivers from two teams that missed out as McLaren’s Lando Norris and Daniel Riccairdo start eleventh and twelfth and Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas in fourteenth and fifteenth.
Alpine’s Esteban Ocon sits between the two teams in thirteenth.
All the drama waited until the last five minutes of the first qualifying when a double collision with the barriers brought Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll’s qualifying to a premature end.
In the scramble to cross the line to start their flying laps drivers were crossing the line together.
In this chaos Haas’ Kevin Magnussen missed out by 0.165 seconds to start in sixteenth with Williams’ Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi in seventeenth and eighteenth with Stroll ahead of Haas’ Mick Schumacher.
Anything can happen on the streets of Baku as last year showed when both Hamilton and Verstappen failed to score any points and Perez took his maiden Red Bull win with Vettel getting Aston Martin their first podium in second since returning to Formula One.
Azerbaijan Grand Prix Grid
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
- Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
- Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
- George Russell (Mercedes)
- Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
- Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
- Sebastian Vettel (Aston Marin)
- Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
- Lando Norris (McLaren)
- Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
- Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
- Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo)
- Vallteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)
- Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
- Alex Albon (Williams)
- Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
- Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
- Mick Schumacher (Haas)