Charles Leclerc took the lead with a stunning lead in qualifying for the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Sergio Perez putting himself on the front row in P2.
Leclerc set the final standard of 1m 41.359secs, outpacing Sergio Perez by more than two dozen in the Q3 session. Although he had a provisional starting point before that, Carlos Sainz was unable to put together his last effort and ended up in fourth place – behind Max Verstappen.
George Russell rounded out the top five for Mercedes, and Pierre Gasly shared the third row with a strong showing for Alfa Toure. Unhappy during qualifying, Lewis Hamilton finished seventh and will race in the fourth row with AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda.
Sebastian Vettel had a P9 for Aston Martin while Fernando Alonso of Alpine finished 10th.
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The second quarter saw the elimination of both McLaren and Alfa Romeo: Lando Norris 11 and Daniel Ricciardo 12; Zhou Guanyu 14 and Valtteri Bottas 15. Between this orange and red pair was the blue alpine driver, Esteban Ocon.
Kevin Magnussen left the Haas driver in the first quarter, taking a provisional P16 on the grid, and Williams drivers Alex Albon 17 and Nicholas Latifi 18.
Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll of Q1 crashes and will start the P19 provisionally on the grid before Mick Schumacher of Haas, 20.
Qualifier highlights: Azerbaijan Grand Prix
as it happened
Q1 – The red flag is causing chaos of late as drivers scramble for space
Long shadows crept across the Baku city circuit for Saturday’s evening qualifying session, with Perez leading two of three previous practice sessions – Leclerc tops in FP2 on Friday.
But it was Verstappen, pulling off his teammate, who set the first-quarter benchmark with a time of 1 minute 42.772 seconds, while Perez was only 0.011 seconds behind in P2. Ferrari wasn’t far off, Leclerc was 0.143sec ahead of third and Sainz in tenth in fourth. In the relegation zone as time went mercilessly, it was Williams, Bottas’s Alfa Romeo Alfa Romeo – who aborted his first round – then Stroll and Schumacher.
This will be followed by a red flag, pausing the session with 2 minutes and 30 seconds remaining after an arc of errors from Stroll; The Aston Martin driver closed and flicked his front wing into Turn 7. But on the next lap his mistake came at the end of the session, with the Canadian hitting the barriers at Turn 2.
Cue insanely for a position on the track at the end of the first quarter, Mercedes drives the group of cars out of the pits, and several drivers are required to push into their outer laps – resulting in a race to the start and finish line as the drivers begin their laps flying side by side.
2022 Azerbaijan GP Qualifiers: Stroll crashes twice in quick succession
Despite starting his lap alongside Latifi, Bottas managed to get out of the last five, taking the P15 by a 0.165sec margin over Haas’ Magnussen.
Williams drivers Albon – angry that Alonso was compromised in his lap – and Latifi was eliminated at 17th and 18th respectively, while Stroll remained 19th after his crash and Schumacher secured the standings in P20 in favor of Haas.
Gasly jumped into P5 to bring Aston Martin’s Vettel down to sixth, while AlphaTauri team-mate Tsunoda got a P7 and Russell P8 for Mercedes. A strong showing from Zhou put Alfa Romeo in ninth place, ahead of the Alpine Ocon.
Hamilton finished 11th while Alonso finished 12th, after the Alpine driver went into round 15 on the last lap – this action caused Albon to slip under caution and infuriated the Williams driver in the process. The McLaren drivers came next, Norris 13 and Ricciardo 14, and Bottas was the last to reach the second quarter.
Sending off: Magnussen, Albon, Latifi, Stroll, Schumacher
2022 Azerbaijan GP Qualifiers: Russell complains about Verstappen during first quarter
Q2 – Peres responds in a dramatic session
Hamilton, Acon and Ricciardo had problems after the opening laps, while Alfa Romeo did not appear. Early in the second quarter, Sainz was ten times clear of Leclerc – who made a foul when coming out of the last corner – while Verstappen and Perez were a few hundredths behind Monaco.
Vettel, like Stroll in Q1, had a massive lock-up in Turn 15 and went into the hurdles with seven minutes left to bring out the short yellow – underscoring the power of the Aston Martin front wings.
The order was eventually changed with Perez climbing to the top with a time of 1 minute 41.955 seconds, Leclerc trailing 0.091 seconds while Sainz was 0.133 seconds behind the Mexican. Verstappen, fourth, was 0.139secs behind his teammate – while Gasly finished the top five.
In P6, Hamilton was a Mercedes driver, audibly frustrated after repeated attempts to make it out of the P11 before getting a useful pull from Russell (P8). Among Mercedes was Vettel in P7, and behind them was Alonso in P9.
With his breakthrough on the lap when he faced slow Hamilton, Norris backed away from his last effort to fly and came out of the second quarter with just 0.022 seconds ahead of Tsunoda AlphaTauri. His teammate Ricciardo was also out in 12th place while Ocon was 13th. Zou Alfa Romeo finished 14th, while Bottas was 15th.
The session will end with Hamilton under investigation for driving too slowly.
Ejected: Norris, Ricciardo, Ocon, Cho, Bottas
2022 Azerbaijan GP Qualifiers: Vettel slides into the barrier at Turn 15
Q3 – Sainz watches shot in the first column slip away
There was barely a shadow looming for the third quarter, so the sun fell low. Temperatures have dropped, too, and drivers can skip their soft-vehicles for more than one lap.
Gasly set the pace earlier than Russell and then Hamilton, but the Red Bulls and Ferrari are yet to appear. And when they did, it was Sainz who timed the EP with 1m 41.814secs, Leclerc 0.047secs with a slip from Turn 12. Perez was next, 0.126s off Sainz, and Verstappen fourth with five more. The Scuderia was second in a row in qualifying…
A problem for Perez kept him in the garage a little longer than his teammate, leaving him without traction. And with Sainz seeking to retain his mayor, there will be no withdrawal from or from Leclerc.
The Spaniard nearly hit the hurdles at the exit of Turn Two as he overstepped the bounds and lost nearly half a second in his attempt. With that said, Leclerc improved in sector one, and again in sector two… and it turned out to be a good enough lap for first place where he set the standard 1m 41.359secs.
Verstappen shot briefly into second but Perez lost it by eight parts, for the second time on the grid. Cursing the extra inches he took leaving Turn 2, Sainz settled for fourth.
Russell rounded out the top five for Mercedes, 1.353 seconds off pole, while Gasly finished sixth for AlphaTauri.
Concerned about porpoises, Hamilton finished seventh for Mercedes, just over twenty behind Russell, while Tsunoda was just over a tenth behind Hamilton on his way to P8.
Vettel was the last 0.04sec behind Tsunoda in ninth and in P10 was Alonso, the Spaniard 0.08sec behind the four-time champion.
“It feels good, that. Obviously all the poles look good, but that maybe I wasn’t expecting, because I thought Red Bull was stronger, especially in the first and second quarters, I really struggled to see we were faster, but then in the The last lap, it all came together and I was able to do a good run, very happy… I am very excited for tomorrow” – Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
Perez and Leclerc face off from the front row while Verstappen and Sainz chase. The Azerbaijan Grand Prix is scheduled to start at 1500 local time on Sunday. Go to Racing Center To learn how to capture the event.
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