Formula One: Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc storms Baku qualifying

Charles Leclerc Ferrari Baku

Ferrari’s Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc celebrates after claiming a pole position in the qualifying session of the Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the Baku City Circuit in Baku on June 11, 2022. (Photo by Hamad I Mohammed / Pool / AFP)

BAKU – Charles Leclerc released a dazzling display of speed around the unforgiving Baku Street track to keep his Ferrari in pole position for Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The Monegasque, with the fourth and sixth poles drawn from eight races this season, will line up with Sergio Perez’s Red Bull after beating the Monaco-winning Mexican in 0.282 seconds.

His championship rival Max Verstapen, who leads the 24-year-old in the overall standings by nine points, will be in second place on the grid in third place along with Carlos Sange, a teammate of Leclerc’s Ferrari.

His qualifying performance earned Lecler the 15th pole of his career.

This made Leklark the first driver to take a recurring poll in Baku, having also started last year’s Azerbaijan race from the front.

“It’s not what I expected and I thought Red Bull was strong,” he said.

“Everything came together in the last lap.”

In the first two rounds of the qualifying round, Verstappen and Perez topped the timesheet.

But Perez reported an engine problem when his Dutch teammate, who let out a frustrated sigh on Tim Radio, said his car did not have the speed to fight its Ferrari rival.

The pair’s Red Bull team boss, Christian Horner, however, assured both drivers that they still have a long way to go.

“You can overtake a track, hopefully we can give them a hard time tomorrow,” he said.

Leclerc, who won his last victory at the Australian Grand Prix in March despite the continuity of his pole position, knows that the poll work on Saturday is only half done.

Monegask, who in the last two races in Spain and Monaco seemed to be an easy win for the Gremlin in credibility and strategy, will aim to maintain the record of the Baku race, creating new winners each year.

Unpredictable

There has been a lot of drama on the Azerbaijan track, which revolves around a barrier-lined format.

During the qualifiers, Lance Stroll crashed his Aston Martin and raised the red flag in the opening session of the hour-long session.

Canadian teammate Sebastian Vettel also intercepted his Aston Martin but was able to continue.

The stewards called for Lewis Hamilton to be slower than McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Alexander Alban expressed his frustration on Tim Radio, calling for the punishment of Fernando Alonso of Alpine when the Spaniard appeared to drive off the track in front of Thai driver Williams and down the runway.

George Russell qualified for the fifth-place finish in the third consecutive race from his Mercedes teammate Hamilton.

Pierre Gasley puts his Alfatouri sixth in the list of seven-time world champions.

French teammates Yuki Sunoda Vettel and Alonso were in eighth place who dropped out of the top-10.

The qualifiers started 15 minutes late due to a Formula Two crash which damaged the hurdles and delayed the start of the final practice.

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