Leclerc takes pole in crash-strewn 2021 Azerbaijan GP Qualifying


Charles Leclerc takes pole ahead of Lewis Hamilton in an accident-filled qualifying session, with Sainz, Tsunoda, Ricciardo, Stroll and Giovinazzi all crashing out


Leclerc took a surprise second consecutive pole

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Charles Leclerc took pole in a dramatic and crash-filled qualifying, as his team-mate Carlos Sainz and Yuki Tsunoda both crashed out within seconds of one another at the same corner in Q3.

Lewis Hamilton fought back from a poor practice to qualify second, with Max Verstappen third.

Daniel Ricciardo also went into the barriers in Q2, whilst Lance Stroll and Antonio Giovinazzi suffered similar fates in Q1.


Aston Martin's Canadian driver Lance Stroll crashes during the qualifying session for the Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the Baku City Circuit in Baku on June 5, 2021. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP) (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

Stroll meets wall

OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images

It was an early bath in Baku for Lance Stroll, who followed Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc in practice in falling foul of Turn 15 on his first flying run, sliding into the wall and taking off the left front wheel of his Aston Martin.

The session was red-flagged, but once running started again Verstappen set the early Q1 pace with a 1min 41.760sec, his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez two tenths behind him. The two Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc followed respectively.

The session was then stopped again as Antonio Giovinazzi crashed his Alfa Romeo at the same corner as Stroll.

With limited track time after the second red flag, Lewis Hamilton ultimately set the fastest Q1 time with 1min 41.454sec.

Williams’ Nicholas Latifi was first of the eliminated as he went out in 16th. Behind him was the Haas pair of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin respectively. Giovinazzi and Stroll will start 19th and 20th.


BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 05: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) McLaren F1 Team MCL35M Mercedes on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at Baku City Circuit on June 05, 2021 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Ricciardo not long before he fell victim to a Baku barrier also

Francois Nel/Getty Images

Q2 was slightly less eventful, although there was early congestion in the pitlane as Sebastian Vettel rushed to get out of the pits and almost collided with Sergio Perez.

The Mexican didn’t seem to mind too much as he went top after the first runs, Lewis Hamilton‘s Mercedes 0.004sec behind in second. Leclerc was 0.1sec behind the Red Bull, with Sainz and Verstappen filing in fourth and fifth.

As the second runs commenced, Verstappen then 0.005sec quicker than his team-mate, managing to set his lap without a tow.

The big surprise of the middle session was Yuki Tsunoda, the Japanese AlphaTauri driver setting 4th fastest time.

Q2 came to a sudden end as the Honey Badger binned it, Daniel Ricciardo going off at T3 and burying his McLaren into the wall.

As a result, Vettel just missed out on progressing – he’ll start 11th tomorrow.

Behind the German was Esteban Ocon, half a tenth behind. Ricciardo will line-up 13th, ahead of Kimi Räikkönen and George Russell, whose Williams team performed a miracle to change his power unit in two hours after it failed in FP3. An engine change normally takes four hours.



Sainz set fifth-fastest time – then crashed out

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Keen to avoid yet more red flags, all cars but the AlphaTauris headed out straight away in the final qualifying session.

Charles Leclerc went fastest first of all with a 1min 41.218sec – Hamilton was 0.2sec back with Verstappen 0.3sec behind.

Sainz was third with Lando Norris fourth, though the McLaren man had a pitlane speeding infringement being investigated by the stewards hanging over him.

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It was frantic stuff as all the cars headed out for all their final runs. Cars crawled as each searched for a tow down the main straight from each other.

Things then all came to a head at Turn 1 as Tsunoda and Sainz both crashed within seconds of one another.

The Japanese buried his AlphaTauri at T3 before the Ferrari driver span off spectacularly in sympathy, taking his front wing off – he was lucky not to do more damage.

The session was then ended before anyone could set another lap.

As a result, the top five was Leclerc, Hamilton, Verstappen, Gasly and Sainz – who may need a gearbox change.

The under-investigation Norris was sixth, with Perez behind. Fernando Alonso and a beleaguered Bottas, who was sent out early to give Hamilton a tow on the first run, coming home 9th and 10th.


2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix qualifying results

Position Driver Team Time (Q3)
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1min 41.218sec
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1min 41.450sec
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1min 41.563sec
4 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1min 41.565sec
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1min 41.576sec
6 Lando Norris* McLaren 1min 41.747sec
7 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1min 41.917sec
8 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1min 42.211sec
9 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1min 42.327sec
10 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1min 42.659sec
Q2 times
11 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1min 42.224sec
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1min 42.273sec
13 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1min 42.558sec
14 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo 1min 42.587sec
15 George Russell Williams 1min 42.758sec
Q1 times
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1min 43.128sec
17 Nikita Mazepin Haas 1min 44.158sec
18 Mick Schumacher Haas 1min 44.238sec
19 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo No time
20 Lance Stroll Aston Martin No time

*Under investigation for red flag infringement in Q1