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Ferrari's Leclerc storms to Baku F1 pole

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11th June, 2022
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Charles Leclerc has unleashed a dazzling display of speed around the unforgiving Baku street track to put his Ferrari on pole position for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The Monegasque, taking his fourth pole in a row and sixth from eight races this season, will line up alongside the Red Bull of Sergio Perez after beating the Monaco-winning Mexican by 0.282 seconds on Saturday.

His championship rival Max Verstappen, who leads the 24-year-old by nine points in the overall standings, will line up on the second row of the grid in third, alongside Leclerc’s Ferrari team mate Carlos Sainz.

Another disappointing outing for McLaren’s struggling Daniel Ricciardo saw the Australian qualifying only 12th. Leclerc’s qualifying performance, though, earned him his 15th career pole.

It also made the Leclerc the first driver to take a repeat pole in Baku, having also started last year’s Azerbaijan race from the front.

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“This one I didn’t expect and I thought Red Bull were stronger,” he said.

“In the last lap everything came together.”

Charles Leclerc of Ferrari celebrates during the Bahrain Grand Prix.

(Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Verstappen and Perez had taken turns at the top of the time sheets during the first two phases of qualifying.

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But Perez reported an engine issue while his Dutch teammate, who let out a frustrated sigh over the team radio, said his car did not quite have the pace to take the fight to his Ferrari rival.

The pair’s Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, however, assured both drivers that they were still very much in the fight for the win on Sunday.

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

Leclerc, who despite his streak of pole positions took his last win at the Australian Grand Prix in March, knows pole on Saturday is only half the job done.

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The Monegasque, who lost what appeared to be easy wins in the last two races in Spain and Monaco to reliability and strategy gremlins, will be aiming to maintain the Baku race’s record of producing a new winner each year.

There has been plenty of drama on the Azerbaijan track, which runs around a barrier-lined layout.

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During qualifying, Lance Stroll crashed his Aston Martin to bring out the red flags in the hour-long session’s opening phase.

The Canadian’s team mate Sebastian Vettel also planted his Aston Martin in the barriers but was able to continue.

Lewis Hamilton was summoned by the stewards for slowing down ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Alexander Albon vented his frustration over the team radio, calling for Alpine’s Fernando Alonso to be penalised after the Spaniard appeared to drive off the track and down the escape road right in front of the Thai driver’s Williams.

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George Russell qualified ahead of Mercedes team mate Hamilton for the third race in a row to take best-of-the-rest honours in fifth.

Pierre Gasly put his AlphaTauri sixth ahead of the seven-time world champion.

The Frenchman’s team mate Yuki Tsunoda was eighth ahead of Vettel and Alonso who rounded out the top ten.

Qualifying got underway 15 minutes late due to a Formula Two crash that damaged the barriers and pushed back the start of final practice. 

© AAP

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