Charles Leclerc has taken his 4th pole position in a row and his 6th of the season. Sergio Perez continues his run as a title contender, finishing 2nd ahead of team-mate Verstappen.
There was a 15 minute delay to the session, due to an incident in the earlier F2 race which had a knock on effect on the remaining sessions.
Q1 – Stroll Smashes, Red Bull take the early advantage
Stroll was the first driver to cause an incident around the twisty track, going head first into the wall before the castle section. He was able to reverse his car out and continue running. However, the Canadian had another incident only a minute later, tearing off the front right tyre of his car through turn 2. Questions were raised as to why he didn’t return to the pits as a precaution, especially as he suffered major flatspots during his first crash.
There was a huge queue of cars in the pits as the red flag period came to an end, many drivers were attempting a mad dash to the line. Despite some hard racing for track position, there were very few changes. Bottas just scraped into Q2, only 0.1s ahead of the unfortunate Magnussen. Next was the Williams duo, although Albon was 0.6s ahead of his team-mate. Penutimately was the stricken Stroll, while Schumacher rounded out the top 20.
There was a tense duel between Red Bull and Ferrari at the top, with all four drivers battling for the top spot. Verstappen ended the session on top, 0.011s ahead of Perez and 0.143s ahead of Leclerc.
- 16th Magnussen
- 17th Albon
- 18th Latifi
- 19th Stroll
- 20th Schumacher
Q2 – Perez prevails, McLaren suffer
Stroll’s earlier incident was almost perfectly copied by his team-mate Vettel into turn 15. Similarly to Stroll, he didn’t suffer major damage, but unlike Stroll, he returned to the pits.
This time around, Perez led the way only 0.091s ahead of the Ferrari pair. It was too close to call going into the final session.
It wasn’t a good session for Alfa Romeo as Bottas and then Zhou ended 15th and 14th respectively. Ocon was a solitary 13th while his team-mate managed to make Q3. The McLarens were also eliminated, with Norris just edging out Ricciardo.
- 11th Norris
- 12th Ricciardo
- 13th Ocon
- 14th Zhou
- 15th Bottas
Q3 – Ferrari, Red Bull, Red Bull, Ferrai
As the sun was starting to dip down in Baku, the duel between Red Bull and Ferrari could finally now come to a head. The first run gave the advantage to Ferrari, with Sainz and Leclerc running in a 1-2. Perez led Verstappen just behind. Meanwhile, Gasly impressed taking a provisional 5th place.
As the cars set out for their last runs, Verstappen was left without a tow from Perez. The Mexican had to stay in the pits slightly longer to fix an issue, but was one place ahead.
On the last runs, Leclerc set an absolutely phenomenal lap going half a second faster than his team-mate’s time. But things would go from bad to worse for Sainz. Both Perez and Verstappen leapfrogged the Ferrari, setting up a tantilising grid for tomorrow.
Russell was able to take 5th, ahead of Gasly. Hamilton lines up in 7th, but would be investigated after the race for travelling too slowly in Q2. Tsunoda, Vettel and Alonso rounded out the top 10.
Both Ferraris line up in a Red Bull sandwich. Furthermore, new title contender Perez lines up alonside the former championship leader on the front row. Baku is renowned for throwing interesting results our way. Tomorrow looks set to be a thriller.
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