Bottas scores pole in Baku as Leclerc crashes

Valtteri Bottas scored his eighth career pole position in Formula 1 for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after pre-qualifying favourite Charles Leclerc crashed out in Q2.

The Mercedes driver lapped 0.059 seconds faster than teammate Lewis Hamilton, who was in the tow behind him, on the final runs in Q3 to grab P1, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel three tenths down in third position.

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen only did one single run in Q3 and ended up in fourth, almost three tenths behind Vettel and well clear of fifth fastest Sergio Perez.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat ended up sixth ahead of McLaren driver Lando Norris.

Antonio Giovinazzi headed Alfa Romeo teammate Kimi Raikkonen in the battle for eighth position, although the Italian must serve a ten place grid penalty for taking his third power unit control electronics of the season earlier in the weekend.

Leclerc was classified P10 in Q3 as his pace on medium-compound Pirellis before he crashed meant he made the top ten – but he was unable to run.

Leclerc was the faster Ferrari driver in free practice and Q1, but hit the wall at the narrow Turn 8 castle section after locking up the front-left on entry during Q2 – calling the error “stupid” over the radio.

Carlos Sainz was P11 fastest after being pushed into the drop zone by teammate Norris at the end of Q2 – missing out on a place in Q3 after lapping just 0.017 seconds than Giovinazzi.

That put him ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, with Alex Albon P13 after clipping the wall with the right-rear of Toro Rosso late on in a Q2 session interrupted by the red flag that followed Leclerc’s crash.

Kevin Magnussen was P14 after locking up and heading up the Turn 3 escape road on his final lap.

Red Bull driver Pierre Gasly, who must start from the pitlane after missing the weighbridge during FP2, was P15 after not running in Q2 – but he did set the fastest time in Q1 with the help of a mighty slipstream from Lance Stroll’s Racing Point.

Stroll was eliminated in Q1 for the fourth time this season after being relegated to P16 by Ricciardo at the end of the session.

Ricciardo positioned himself behind Stroll for his final lap, benefitting from the tow both in the first and last sectors to take the position by a tenth and a half.

Haas driver Romain Grosjean was P17 after not improving by enough on his final lap, although it was enough to beat Nico Hulkenberg, who had briefly jumped ahead of him, by 0.02 seconds.

George Russell was P19 after missing almost all of Friday’s running as a result of hitting a manhole cover early in FP1, forcing the Williams team to rebuild his car around the spare monocoque.

Robert Kubica was slowest after crashing at the Turn 8 left-hander on his final push lap as a result of tagging the inside wall behind the apex.

This brought out the red flag, although little time was lost as the chequered flag had already been thrown.

So congratulations to Mercedes in achieving a front row slot and Valtteri Bottas in scoring pole position. Feel so sorry for Charles Leclerc after setting the pace in every sessions before that big mistake in Q2. Hopefully the Ferrari star can fight back in the main race.

Qualifying positions, Baku:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m40.495s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m40.554s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m40.797s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1m41.069s
5 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1m41.593s
6 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 1m41.681s
7 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1m41.886s
8 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m43.068s
9 Charles Leclerc Ferrari –
10 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1m42.398s
11 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1m42.477s
12 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso-Honda 1m42.494s
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m42.699s
14 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1m42.630s
15 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m43.407s
16 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m43.427s
17 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1m45.062s
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m42.424s
19 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 1m45.455s
20 Pierre Gasly Red Bull-Honda –

6 thoughts to “Bottas scores pole in Baku as Leclerc crashes”

  1. Baku qualifying review as reported by

    A big crash for Charles Leclerc in the second part of qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix saw the driver who had looked a cert for pole position in Baku ruled out of contention, leaving Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas to claim his second consecutive P1 grid slot as Mercedes locked out the front row.

    Leclerc got it wrong as he was entering the Turn 8 corner that brings the cars around the castle section of the circuit, ending up embedded in the same barrier where Williams’ Robert Kubica had finished Q1, and causing the biggest qualifying upset so far this season.

    That left Sebastian Vettel to defend the honour of Ferrari in Q3, but the German could only manage P3, 0.302s adrift of Bottas’ pace despite the Scuderia’s apparent speed advantage this season.

    Bottas was ahead of team mate Lewis Hamilton by just 0.059s, while Max Verstappen will line up in P4 for Red Bull, his best-ever start in Baku.

    Behind, the trio of Racing Point’s Sergio Perez in fifth, Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat in sixth and McLaren’s Lando Norris all did fine jobs, while Antonio Giovinazzi secured his best qualifying position of the season in eighth, but will lose that when he has a 10-place grid penalty applied for taking a new Control Electronics element on his engine – with his team mate Kimi Raikkonen inheriting the place.

    Leclerc will start the race in ninth, having set a time good enough to make it through to Q3 before he crashed and benefitting from the grid drop for Giovinazzi, while the second McLaren of Carlos Sainz will jump up to 10th.

    Q1 – Big crash for Kubica sees segment end under red flags

    It‘s already been an eventful weekend for Williams after George Russell’s tussle with a drain cover in Free Practice 1. And they had woe lumped onto their woe in Q1 when Robert Kubica stuffed his FW42 into the wall at Turn 8 in the final moments of the segment. The Pole clipped the inside of the corner, damaging the Williams’ front left suspension before ending up in the barriers and bringing out the red flags.

    That meant that a number of drivers were unable to improve their times as the track evolved, with Racing Point’s Lance Stroll failing to claw out of Q1 for the eighth consecutive race, while prominent midfielders Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg were P17 and P18 for Haas and Renault, ahead of the Williams of George Russell and Kubica.

    Even though he’ll be making a pit lane start on Sunday, Pierre Gasly got a confidence boost by heading the time sheets for the first occasion this year ahead of Leclerc, while McLaren’s Carlos Sainz in fifth and the two Alfa Romeos of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi in seventh and eighth all impressed.

    Knocked out:

    Q2 – Pole favourite Leclerc bins it in the wall

    After a half an hour delay as repairs were carried out to the Turn 8 crash barriers and Kubica’s Williams was low-loaded back to the pits, the drivers headed back out onto the rapidly cooling Baku track.

    But with just five minutes of the restarted segment gone, another car was seen embedded in the exact same spot where the Williams of Kubica had been. And as the TV cameras focused and the dust and debris settled, it became clear that a big upset had just taken place, as Charles Leclerc – the driver who had led every session so far this weekend – sat disconsolately in the cockpit of his SF90.

    “I am stupid… I am stupid,” he lamented over team radio before leveraging himself out of the car, smacking its halo angrily and climbing aboard the medical car, having seen a chance to take the second pole of his career evaporate.

    Before that, however, Leclerc had at least set a time good enough to progress him into Q3 – and on medium tyres as well, the only driver who managed that in Q2, which could yet make him an interesting factor in Sunday’s race – while McLaren’s Carlos Sainz in 11th and Toro Rosso’s Alexander Albon in 13th were unable to join their team mates in Q3. They had Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo between them, while Kevin Magnussen overshot Turn 2 on his final lap to end up 14th, ahead of Pierre Gasly, who opted not to run owing to his penalty.

    Knocked out:

    Q3 – Bottas steals pole as Mercedes trump Ferrari

    So with Leclerc gone, it was Sebastian Vettel inherited the role of favourite for pole. But with Mercedes appearing to engage their party mode in Q3, the Silver Arrows started to fly. Lewis Hamilton’s first effort saw him undercut last year’s pole position by around eighth tenths, a first sign of what was to come.

    Red Bull were trying a different approach to their rivals, sending Max Verstappen out for a quick lap, a cool down lap, another quick lap and then parking him as the others headed out for their second runs.

    That left the Dutchman provisionally P2, while Vettel’s status as favourite seemed to be galvanised as he found himself in clean air on his final run. After a strong first sector, however, his lap appeared to fall away, as he failed to match even Hamilton’s first effort to go take Verstappen’s P2.

    Behind, Mercedes looked to have put their drivers into plenty of traffic and compromised their own final runs. But out of nowhere, Hamilton found the pace to improve his time, but it was Bottas who shocked everyone to take his second pole position in a row by just 0.059s. That left Vettel 0.3s off in third – a big upset considering the way Ferrari had dominated proceedings up till that point – while Verstappen ended up in fourth.

    Special mention goes to Antonio Giovinazzi, who will have gained much-needed confidence from his first Q3 appearance of the year, his grid drop denying his eighth place notwithstanding, while Perez, Kvyat and Norris all played starring roles for their squads.

  2. Charles Leclerc said he deserved to crash out of qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after labelling himself “stupid” for the error he made.

    The Ferrari driver had been one of the favourites for pole position at Baku, but it all went wrong in Q2 when he locked up under braking for the tight Turn 8 corner and ran into the barriers.

    The impact was enough to put him out of qualifying and leave him provisionally ninth on the grid on a day when he had been gunning for the top spot.

    Speaking to Sky, Leclerc said he was kicking himself for the crash.

    “I deserve what happened today,” he said. “I am very, very sad for what happened. But I deserve it. I’ve been stupid – as I said on the radio.

    “I’ve calmed down but I still think I’ve been stupid. This doesn’t change. I will push to learn from this and come back stronger and hopefully have a good race tomorrow.

    “I don’t want to say anything stupid but I think looking at FP1, FP2, FP3 and Q1, pole was possible today and I threw all the potential in the bin. So I am very disappointed and I will come back stronger from this.”

    Leclerc also tweeted that he had been ‘useless’ with the way he had crashed.

    Leclerc reckoned that the lock-up was caused by him trying to brake with the same force that he had used on the soft tyres – which proved to be too much for the mediums.

    “I braked as much as I did on the soft but I was on the medium, so I locked up,” he added. “But again, I don’t want it to be misunderstood; there is no problem with the tyres it was just myself. I am very disappointed.”

    With Ferrari having strong straightline speed, Leclerc knows there is still potential for a good race result – even if he remains unhappy.

    “You can definitely overtake and I will push for that tomorrow, but for the next three or four hours I will just be beating myself up,” he said.


  3. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton couldn’t recover from his “shocking” first corners which affected his chance of taking pole position. has the details.

    Lewis Hamilton says a “pretty shocking” first two corners made the difference in qualifying for Formula 1’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, after being beaten to pole by teammate Valtteri Bottas.

    Bottas led a Mercedes one-two in Baku, helped by an interrupted qualifying session that included post-practice favourite Charles Leclerc crashing out in Q2.

    Hamilton, who will line up second, said he never recovered from a “pretty shocking” first two corners.

    “Valtteri did an exceptional job, it was a great result for us as a team,” he said. “Coming into this weekend it didn’t look like we had the pace. Our race pace looked good but the pace in qualifying didn’t look as close as we’d like to the Ferraris.

    “We worked on the car, improved it today. Unfortunately my first two corners were pretty shocking, I had a small moment in Turn 1 and then Turn 2. Already by Turn 4 I think I was three tenths down. I recovered that in the next two sectors but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.”

    The Mercedes drivers had trailed Ferrari by more than a second in final practice.

    Asked if it was unexpected compared to his first pole of the season in the previous race in China, Bottas said: “You could say so yeah, definitely.

    “After the practice yesterday and this morning we definitely saw Ferrari was extremely quick. Also Red Bull was quick. Going into qualifying it felt kind of out of reach, but you never know what can happen so we don’t give up. In the end Charles went off and it was down to one lap at the end.”

    Bottas said the constant delays – after Robert Kubica had also crashed in Q1 in similar fashion to Leclerc in Q1 – meant conditions changed throughout qualifying.

    Having snatched pole right at the end of Q3, he said: “Because everything was delayed and it was a lot cooler so the tricky bit was to get the tyres to work.

    “And when it comes down to one lap on this kind of track the tow effect is quite important. I managed to get a pretty good gap to the car ahead. Also, it feels good to have a good lap when it matters.”

  4. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel admitted that a lack of tow cost him a shot at pole position. has the news story.

    Sebastian Vettel reckoned the lack of a tow from another car on the run to the start/finish line at the end of qualifying cost him his shot at pole position for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

    The Ferrari driver was one of the first cars to complete his final Q3 lap, which meant he had to run alone as he crossed the line while cars behind benefited from others’ slipstreams.

    In the end, Vettel missed out on pole position to Valtteri Bottas by 0.302 seconds, with Lewis Hamilton also pipping him for a spot on the front row.

    Speaking after qualifying, Vettel rued the lack of a tow – with his final sector ending up as 24.988 seconds, compared to Bottas’ 24.736s.

    “I had a good lap but I had no tow to close the lap so that cost a bit,” he said. “I am happy that we got sort of the maximum out, but not happy overall from the team point of view as we were expecting to have a better session with Charles and myself. I think we thought we would be closer to the front.”

    Asked what time difference a good tow would have made, Vettel said: “It depends, up to half a second. Then it is always a compromise because if you are too close in the middle sector you lose out.

    “But I would say going with the other people, probably around three tenths. It could have been a bit closer with someone in front.”

    Vettel said he had the choice of either dropping deliberately into traffic on that final run to try to get a tow, or pushing hard to get his tyres in to the right operating window.

    “The track was getting cooler, the car was more difficult to drive and I prioritised to push on the out lap to have the tyres in the window when I started the lap,” he said. “Now I sort of regret I didn’t take the gamble on but I think it was still probably the right call.”

    Pole position man Bottas reckoned that he did not get a perfect tow either on the final lap, but says the lap itself came together well enough to put him on top.

    “It is all small margins,” he said. “I didn’t get a good tow in the last lap. It is all about fine details and I managed to hit the sweet spot.”

  5. Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen got “too close” to Lewis Hamilton on Q3 lap. has the details.

    Kimi Raikkonen says his hopes of a better qualifying effort for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix were dashed by the first corner of his only new tyre run when he got too close to Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes car.

    The Finn had been in the mix to fight for the front end of the midfield pack in Q3, but it all went wrong when he got too strong a slipstream off Hamilton on the long straight as he began the lap.

    It meant the Alfa Romeo driver was left tucked right under the gearbox of the Mercedes for the tight opening section of the circuit, which cost him downforce and effectively wrecked his lap.

    He ended up slowest overall out of all the cars that took part in Q3, with his best time 0.644 seconds adrift of his teammate Antonio Giovinazzi.

    Raikkonen will start eighth though, thanks to Giovinazzi getting a grid penalty for taking an extra power unit component.

    Clearly disappointed about what happened, Raikkonen said afterwards: “I didn’t put any laps together. I had one new set [of tyres] and on the last one I tried to start the lap and got way too close to Mercedes. It was shit, but what can we do about it? It is disappointing.”

    Raikkonen had left a gap to the Mercedes cars ahead of him on their warm-up lap but was caught out when Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas slowed down at Turn 16 to give themselves some space.

    He added: “Everybody tried to find position on the out lap and I got too close to the Mercedes as I was trying to start the lap. It was really done before the first corner. It was disappointing.”

  6. Pierre Gasly has been excluded from the results of Azerbaijan Grand Prix qualifying because his Red Bull Formula 1 car breached fuel flow rules.

    But the stewards’ decision will make no difference to the grid because Gasly was already destined for a pitlane start as a punishment for missing a call to the weighbridge at the end of Friday practice.

    Gasly and Red Bull’s summons was the first time that a breach of the fuel flow limit of 100kg per hour had been found in qualifying.

    Previous disqualifications for the offence had only been in races.

    Gasly had been fastest in Q1 in Baku as he participated in the first segment of qualifying despite knowing that his existing penalty meant he was starting last.

    He then sat out Q2 so was classified 15th before his pitlane start demotion was applied.


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