F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix qualifying LIVE! Leclerc takes pole - Updates and latest news from Baku

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·15-min read
F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix qualifying LIVE! Leclerc takes pole - Updates and latest news from Baku
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F1 Azerbaijan Qualifying - LIVE!

Charles Leclerc, who trails Max Verstappen by nine points in the championship standings, bounced back from his Monaco misery a fortnight ago to blow away his rivals and take pole Baku.

The Ferrari man saw off Sergio Perez, who took advantage of Leclerc’s Monte Carlo frustrations to claim his third career win, by 0.282 seconds.

World champion Verstappen lines up his Red Bull in third place, one spot ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz who was fastest after the first runs in Q3. George Russell out-qualified team-mate Hamilton for the fifth time this season.

He will start fifth tomorrow, two places ahead of Hamilton, who could drop further down the field if he is penalised for a qualifying misdemeanour of “driving unnecessarily slowly”.

The two McLaren cars failed to make it into the top ten, with Lando Norris 11th and Daniel Ricciardo 12th, while Lance Stroll’s crash in Q1 led to a red flag and he will start in 19th.

Follow how the action unfolded with Standard Sport’s dedicated coverage!

Azerbaijan GP qualifying highlights

  • Leclerc takes pole in Baku

  • Both McLarens out in Q2

  • Magnussen and Stroll out in Q1

  • How to watch

Qualifying report

17:04 , Matt Verri

Charles Leclerc will start the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on pole after a stunning final lap got the job done in Baku.

It’s now four poles in a row for Leclerc, who will be desperate to bounce back from disappointment on home soil in Monaco a fortnight ago when Ferrari made a number of strategic errors.

Teammate Carlos Sainz led the way in Baku after the initial runs in Q3 but Leclerc delivered when he needed to, almost three tenths clear of Sergio Perez, race winner in Monte Carlo, in second.

Max Verstappen will start Sunday’s race in third, alongside Sainz in fourth who struggled with his final qualifying lap.

Click here for our full report

 (AP)
(AP)

16:53 , Matt Verri

Reminder that Hamilton faces a stewards’ investigation for “driving unnecessarily slowly”.

He’s been summoned to the stewards at 5.20pm BST and faces a possible grid drop if he is found guilty of a rules breach.

Sergio Perez reacts to starting race second

16:47 , Matt Verri

“When it got to Q3, it’s when you go full out. I hit the wall a couple of times but luckily we managed to survive, which is the key really here.

“It was not an ideal qualifying because at the end we had a problem with the engine and we couldn’t turn it on. So, I was basically on my own and that’s very powerful around here.

“Tomorrow it’s a very long race, we just have to make sure that we’re there. At any point you can make a mistake, so that’s it.”

Charles Leclerc’s thoughts on getting pole

16:43 , Matt Verri

“I am really excited for tomorrow.

“Tyre management is a big thing here, in Barcelona and Monaco we were managing it well even though in Monaco it was difficult to see anything.

“But overall, our race pace has gone a step up since we brought the upgrades. Tomorrow will be very interesting whether it is the case here too.”

Max Verstappen’s reaction

16:36 , Matt Verri

“I think the start of the lap was good then it went away from me a little bit.

“Tiny mistakes but in generally just struggling a bit to find front to rear balance over one lap so not of course what I want but still as a team in second and third we have a good opportunity for tomorrow.

“I think, overall, we seem to lack a tiny bit over one lap but clearly our car should normally be quite good.”

Leclerc on top again

16:30 , Matt Verri

16:27 , Matt Verri

That was an incredible lap from Leclerc.

Almost three tenths clear of anyone else. Perez gets second, Verstappen third. Sainz was quickest after the first run but he has to settle for fourth.

It’s then Russell, Gasly, Hamilton, Tsunoda, Vettel, Alonso to complete the top ten.

Leclerc takes pole in Baku!

16:26 , Matt Verri

Here we go.

Leclerc is on an absolutely stunning lap, he just needs to get it across the line now. 1:41.3 from Leclerc! Sensational.

Verstappen now - second! He’s onto the front row but he’s more than three tenths off Leclerc.

Just Perez left, can he do anything about it? He goes second to go above Verstappen, great lap. Leclerc far too good though.

16:24 , Matt Verri

Q3 1 mins: No slipstream for Ferrari, the two drivers are not anywhere near each other on track.

Perez out on track, he won’t be able to work with Verstappen though.

Sainz leaving nothing out there - so, so close to the wall. Lap doesn’t look to be as good as his earlier effort.

16:22 , Matt Verri

Q3 3 mins: Hamilton a frustrated man on the radio. Not particularly enjoying life in that Mercedes, unsurprisingly.

Gap between Sainz on provisional pole and Verstappen in fourth is 0.175s. Very little in it.

Ferrari have gone out early, well ahead of Red Bull. Issue with Perez’s car it sounds like - Verstappen won’t get his slipstream.

16:20 , Matt Verri

Q3 5 mins: We have a moment to breathe as they return to the pits. Perez clipped the wall in his first run, definitely slowed him down.

Sainz, Leclerc, Perez, Verstappen, Gasly, Russell, Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, Tsunoda is how it stands.

16:18 , Matt Verri

Q3 8 mins: Gasley, Russell, Hamilton, Alonso. They’re the first four to cross the line. Hamilton more than four tenths down on his teammate.

Here comes Sainz. 1:41.8 takes him to the top by miles. Leclerc can’t beat it either, he’s 0.047s down!

Now the Red Bulls - Perez third, Verstappen fourth. Advantage Ferrari!

16:15 , Matt Verri

Q3 10 mins: Perez and Leclerc almost go wheel-to-wheel. Red Bull man very keen to try and hurry Leclerc along.

You’d imagine that very fine margins are going to decide this battle for pole.

Q3 underway!

16:13 , Matt Verri

This is it then, 12 minutes to decide pole.

16:12 , Matt Verri

Perez, Leclerc, Sainz, Verstappen, Gasly, Hamilton, Vettel, Russell, Alonso, Tsunoda.

That’s the top ten going into Q3.

Replays show that Hamilton almost completely stopped on track as he waited for Russell to come round - caused Norris real problems behind.

Just about avoided disaster!

16:09 , Matt Verri

16:07 , Matt Verri

Ricciardo crosses the line, improves but it’s only good enough for 12th. The two McLarens are out.

Norris, Ricciardo, Ocon, Zhou and Bottas the five that have not made it through.

16:05 , Matt Verri

Here comes Hamilton... sixth fastest. He was getting a nice slipstream from Russell all the way round.

That knocks Norris down into 11th and he can’t improve, so that will be his qualifying over.

16:04 , Matt Verri

Q2 2 mins: Hamilton to be investigated after the session for “driving unnecessarily slowly”.

Verstappen definitely does touch the wall, asks his team to check that side of the car. Doesn’t look to be any damage.

Hamilton down in 11th and going out as it stands - needs a big lap.

16:01 , Matt Verri

Q2 4 mins: Our first 1:41 lap of the session as Perez goes top - was about six inches from going into the barriers, if that.

Leclerc on a lap and he does clip the wall, though he doesn’t seem to have slowed down. Maybe there wasn’t contact.

He crosses the line... second. Just under a tenth off Perez.

15:59 , Matt Verri

Q2 6 mins: Vettel follows his teammate Stroll and he’s into the barriers - went straight on at a corner. Managed to brake in time though and there’s not a huge amount of contact so no need for the flags.

He’s made it back to the pits and will be changing those tyres.

15:57 , Matt Verri

Q2 8 mins: Sainz, Leclerc, Verstappen, Perez the top four. 0.170s splits the four of them, in a league of their own.

Not much separating the rest of them, but Hamilton will be concerned to be down in 11th. Real improvement needed.

Norris just about in the top ten as it stands. Bottas and Zhou yet to register times.

15:55 , Matt Verri

Q2 10 mins: Verstappen just goes faster than Perez, 0.031s in it. It’s been so tight all session.

Nice lap from Vettel, into fourth. Ricciardo down in eighth, well off the pace. Norris beats him by three tenths.

Here come the Mercedes duo. Russell fourth now, a second back of Verstappen. Hamilton another two tenths back and down in 11th.

Ferrari now lay down their marker. Sainz goes fastest, Leclerc into second.

15:53 , Matt Verri

Q2 13 minutes: Red Bull out at the front, Perez leading them round the track ahead of Verstappen.

They’ll all be hoping for a slightly calmer time of things than we got in Q1!

Q2 underway!

15:50 , Matt Verri

Onto Q2 we go. 15 minutes to decide the top ten going through to the battle for pole.

Here’s a look at that Stroll incident that caused a red flag.

15:49 , Matt Verri

Verstappen, Perez, Leclerc, Sainz and Gasly the top five in Q1. Russell and Hamilton down in eighth and 11th respectively.

Very little separating the Red Bull and Ferrari cars - should be a brilliant fight for pole.

Bottas survives!

15:45 , Matt Verri

Right then. Can any of those in trouble get the improvements they need?

Hamilton across the line, can’t improve. Russell, Ocon and Gasly safely up into the top eight.

Here is Bottas... JUST. Into 15th and he’ll squeak into Q2. Alonso caused a yellow flag and that seems to have finished the hopes of those behind.

Magnussen, Albon, Latifi, Stroll and Schumacher are all out.

15:43 , Matt Verri

Schumacher dives down the inside and gets past Ricciardo!

Here we go, ten seconds for them all to cross the line! They’ve all made it - they’re surely too close to each other at the back though to get a proper lap in.

15:42 , Matt Verri

Q1 1 min: “Elbows out, overtake cars.” Norris has been given his instructions.

Magnussen trying to get past Ricciardo, door quickly slammed shut. It’s going to be very tight for some of these cars to get a lap in!

Back underway!

15:40 , Matt Verri

Up and running again in Q1.

Mercedes are probably safe whatever happens, but they’re going to ensure that those behind them struggle to improve their times.

Ricciardo and Bottas two of those that have to get forward as quickly as they can.

15:37 , Matt Verri

Hamilton and Russell have got themselves to the front of the queue. Every chance they try and back those behind them up a bit.

Some of those further down the queue could be in real trouble, with only two and a half minutes to go. Going to be a chaotic end to Q1!

15:35 , Matt Verri

Stroll just about got away with the first collision into the barriers. Looked to be front wing damage - there was more than that when it smacked the wall soon after.

Q1 to resume in five minutes - 3:40pm BST.

15:34 , Matt Verri

So, there’s two and a half minutes of Q1 to go when they restart.

Albon, Bottas, Latifi, Stroll and Schumacher the five currently not making it through as it stands.

Here’s your top ten: Verstappen, Perez, Leclerc, Sainz, Vettel, Zhou, Russell, Ocon, Hamilton, Gasly.

RED FLAG!

15:31 , Matt Verri

Q1 3 mins: Stroll into the barriers, not too heavy a shunt though and he’s back on his way. He’s down in 19th as he heads back to the pits.

And now a red flag! Stroll has hit the wall again! Disastrous minute or so for him. Heavy crash this time, lots of debris on the track and that’s a red flag.

15:29 , Matt Verri

Q1 4 mins: Hamilton is down in 14th at the minute, he needs to be a bit careful.

Could do with a decent lap to secure his place in Q2 and it looks like he’ll get it, time looks good through the middle sector.

He goes into eighth, still well over a second off Verstappen. That’s not his battle this weekend though.

15:27 , Matt Verri

Q1 6 mins: Quiet track, but the two Red Bulls are out. Both look to be on really good laps.

Perez goes quickest with a 1:42.7, Verstappen is coming across the line himself now though. Just about goes top!

He’s 0.011 up on Perez. Just over two tenths splitting the top four.

15:25 , Matt Verri

Q1 8 mins: Sainz with his second lap, can he move back above Russell and get closer to the two Red Bulls?

Yes he can - just 0.019s off Verstappen. Here comes Leclerc... and he goes fastest of anyone. Just under a tenth quicker than Verstappen.

Good response from Ferrari.

15:23 , Matt Verri

Q1 10 mins: Russell complaining about some “erratic” driving from Verstappen. The Mercedes man crosses the line for his first lap and he’s into fourth, really good start from him. Splits the two Ferraris.

More than seven tenths faster than his teammate Hamilton.

15:21 , Matt Verri

Q1 12 mins: Perez more than a second quicker than anyone... until Verstappen goes fastest with a 1:42.9. More than two tenths faster than Perez.

Sainz into third, almost a second behind Verstappen. Ferrari well off Red Bull early on. Hamilton down in eighth, more than 1.5s behind the Dutchman.

15:19 , Matt Verri

Q1 14 mins: So Norris crosses the line and posts the first time - 1:45.061.

Straight into second as Alonso goes faster - and Ocon then beats his teammate by another half second.

15:17 , Matt Verri

Q1 16 mins: “There’s a lot of traffic”, says Hamilton. He’s spent the first minute of the session sitting in the pit lane waiting for the long line of cars to get moving.

Norris has led them off - he wasn’t in particularly confident mood earlier this afternoon.

Here we go!

15:15 , Matt Verri

Q1 has begun in Azerbaijan! They’re lining up in the pit lane, keen to get lap times in early and avoid getting caught out by any late drama.

We’ve had plenty of red flags here in the past...

15:12 , Matt Verri

Toto Wolff says Mercedes are “not comfortable” about qualifying for Q3 this afternoon. Could be a tough session for the team.

Drivers in the cars, less than five minutes until we get underway in Baku.

15:06 , Matt Verri

Ferrari think Red Bull willl be on pole, Red Bull think Ferrari have the better one-lap pace.

Modesty all round! Sure they’re both slightly more confident in private.

All will be revealed soon.

Nice smooth drive...

15:03 , Matt Verri

15 minutes to go!

14:59 , Matt Verri

Reminder that there was an incident in the F2 sprint race earlier today, which has pushed back things.

That meant FP3 started later, and qualifying will too. About 15 minutes to go until we get the session up and running.

Not much margin for error out there!

14:55 , Matt Verri

How to watch

14:49 , Matt Verri

We are about 25 minutes away from the start of qualifying. Here’s how to tune in.

TV channel: Today’s session will be shown live on Sky Sports F.

Live stream: Sky Sports subscribers can also tune in online via the Sky Go app.

Free highlights: Channel 4 will be airing full free-to-air race highlights at 10.05pm this evening.

...and this blog, of course!

Shaila-Ann Rao concerns

14:45 , Alex Young

Away from the action briefly as Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto has expressed concerns about the appointment of Shaila-Ann Rao to the role of interim Formula One head at the sport's governing FIA.

Rao is Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff's former personal advisor and between 2016 and 2018 served as the FIA's legal director. He has been named as the interim replacement for the departed Peter Bayer.

"Certainly it'€ a concern," Binotto told reporters at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. "She is a great person, she’s got a lot of experience, she will certainly be capable of doing the job.

"It's down to them to make sure that there will be no conflicts of interest at all, to behave properly and it’s down to the president to ensure it."

Verstappen thwarted

14:05 , Alex Young

In the closing stages of FP3, Max Verstappen, who leads Charles Leclerc in the title race by nine points, was on a lap primed to take him to the top of the charts only to be thwarted by the traffic.

"Unbelievable," screamed the Dutchman. "Cars everywhere," he added with a few expletives.

Verstappen finished third, 0.279 sec behind his team-mate with Carlos Sainz fourth.

Hamilton struggles again

13:42 , Alex Young

Lewis Hamilton finished more than a second and a half behind pacesetter Sergio Perez in final practice.

The seven-time world champion trailed team-mate George Russell by two tenths, with the younger Briton finishing eighth in the order.

"Did you turn the engine down," a bemused Hamilton, 1.675 sec off the pace, asked. His race engineer Peter Bonnington replied: "Affirm, Lewis. We are limited on mileage on that one."

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Qualifying delayed

13:34 , Alex Young

A late start to FP3 has seen qualifying pushed back to 3.15pm BST, just a 15-min delay then.

Perez on top in FP3

13:29 , Alex Young

This is all primed for another thrilling qualifying session.

Sergio Perez heads into qualifying on top of the time sheet, 0.070 faster than Charles Leclerc.

Max Verstappen, Carlo Sainz and Lando Norris round off the top five. Hamilton dropping two spots down to 12th.

  1. Perez

  2. Leclerc

  3. Verstappen

  4. Sainz

  5. Norris

  6. Ricciardo

  7. Gasly

  8. Russell

  9. Ocon

  10. Vettel

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Friday recap

13:15 , Alex Young

FP3 is currently underway, but before we get to that, here’s what happened yesterday.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc took top spot in practice for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton laboured to 12th.

Leclerc, denied victory on home soil in Monaco a fortnight ago when his team were caught flat-footed in the wet-dry conditions, edged out Sergio Perez in Baku.

Fresh from winning in Monte Carlo, and penning a new contract which will see him remain in Red Bull colours until 2024, Perez was quickest in the opening running of the weekend. But the Mexican was gazumped by Leclerc later in the day, trailing the Ferrari man by a quarter-of-a-second.

Ferrari and Red Bull continue to be the top of the Formula One class with world champion Max Verstappen third in the order, three tenths back.

Double world champion Fernando Alonso finished fourth for Alpine, albeit almost a second slower than Leclerc, with Carlos Sainz fifth in the other scarlet car.

Hello

13:10 , Alex Young

Good afternoon and welcome to our live coverage of F1 qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

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