For the second race in a row, Charles Leclerc has secured pole position and tomorrow at 16 local (14 CET), he will start the Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the head of the field. It was the Monegasque’s ninth career pole and Scuderia Ferrari’s 230th, its second at Baku, to add to Sebastian Vettel’s in 2018.
Unlucky Carlos. Unfortunately, Carlos Sainz was rather unlucky and will start from fifth on the grid, even though he clearly showed the potential to have secured a place on the front two rows. After all the drivers had set a time in Q3, the second runs had to be aborted as the red flag came out after Yuki Tsunoda crashed into the barrier at turn 3. At the time, Charles was on a quicker lap than his first and so too was Carlos. The session did not resume and Leclerc was thus guaranteed pole, but it also meant Sainz was unable to improve on fifth, just 13 thousandths slower than third placed Max Verstappen and 11 behind Pierre Gasly in fourth. The Spaniard also ended up in the barrier at turn 3, caught off guard by the Japanese driver’s crash.
Clear goal. A fantastic pole for Charles and a great team result does not change the Scuderia’s goal for tomorrow nor indeed for the rest of the season, which is to bring home as many points as possible to head the group chasing the two teams currently leading the championship.
Charles Leclerc #16
I am very happy. I tried to take things step by step and only push in Q3 today. It seems to have worked out pretty well. I had good references – I knew where I could gain and where I could push more, and that’s what I did.
After the first lap, I was reasonably happy but I did lose quite a bit at turns 4-5-6. On the second timed lap I was quite a lot stronger, but then the session was stopped by the red flag. But it’s pole anyway, so I am very happy with that.
Our race pace is not as strong as that of our competitors ahead of us in the championship, so I believe it will be very difficult to keep them behind in the race. The straights are very long here, and it is easy to overtake. We will give everything, and hopefully we can have another positive surprise tomorrow.
Carlos Sainz #55
A very frustrating qualifying for me again today. I am disappointed we couldn’t extract all the potential of the car due to the circumstances. I was improving my lap time on the last attempt when the AlphaTauri crashed in front of me. I saw the smoke from the lock up but hoped he had continued. When I saw the crash it was too late and I ended up touching the barriers. At these speeds, the outcome could have been much worse, but the car seems to be ok.
On the positive side, our pace was strong, even more than we expected before coming to Baku. Congrats to Charles for putting it on pole. Overall it’s a great result for the team. Now we’ll start preparing for the race and I will do my absolute best to recover tomorrow. Laurent Mekies
, Racing Director
Another pole for Charles, which was even more unexpected than the one two weeks ago in Monaco. We arrived in Baku believing that this would be a much more complicated weekend than the last race, but in fact our performance level was better than expected right from the start of practice, even though theoretically this track should be less suited to our car.
The team and the drivers did a great job over these past two days, improving the car for every session. Our qualifying performance, the best of any team if you look at the pair of results, is a fitting reward for that.
Carlos’ crash? He was caught off guard by the smoke from Tsunoda ahead of him. These things happen and anyway, it didn’t affect his result given that, because of the yellow flags, he would have had to slow down at that point on the track.
We can expect a very tough race tomorrow. Pole is not as important here as in Monaco, given that overtaking is commonplace. Yesterday, we saw that Red Bull and Mercedes were very quick over a long run. Tyre degradation will be a key factor, especially in the first stint. We will have to be ready for any eventuality, given that this race usually has all sorts of unexpected twists and turns.