I.In the crash chaos in Baku, Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc surprisingly took pole position. The Monegasse relegated the World Cup hunters Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen somewhat surprisingly to second and third in a turbulent Formula 1 qualification on Saturday.
The 23-year-old was a little lucky because the final round of the launch site hunt was canceled prematurely due to an accident – it was the fourth red flag of the afternoon. “That was actually a misty lap, to be honest,” admitted Leclerc after the drive to the ninth pole position of his career.
Two weeks ago he had also turned the best lap on the Monaco street circuit, but after that he crashed into the wall himself and was unable to start the race in the end. This time, everything is possible for the Ferrari star in the urban canyons of Baku. “That feels good, of course, even if it happened again with a red flag,” said Leclerc.
Defending champion Hamilton, who was clearly behind in practice in the Mercedes and improved at the right time, was also positively surprised. “We didn’t expect that at all,” confessed the Briton. Meanwhile, his World Cup rival Verstappen was deeply disappointed after qualifying as a favorite at Red Bull.
“It’s stupid that something like this should happen. But that’s how it can sometimes go, ”said the Dutchman, who has four points ahead of Hamilton ahead of the sixth round of the season on Sunday (2:00 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker on Formula 1 and on Sky).
Verstappen had already suffered a damper in the final training session when he rushed into the limit after a driving error on Turn 15. The front of his car was demolished and the 23-year-old had to give up early. Frustrated, he climbed out of the car, sat down briefly on a concrete block, and then trotted back to the garage. But a good two hours later, the damage to his company car was repaired in time for qualification.
But at the beginning of the start position hunt there were the next accidents in the tricky corner 15. First the Canadian Lance Stroll crashed into the gang with his Aston Martin, shortly afterwards the Italian Antonio Giovinazzi with his Alfa Romeo. Short breaks followed each time to clear the rubble. That was the end of the day for both pilots. This is one of the reasons why Haas driver Mick Schumacher was able to secure 17th place. “It was complicated with the red flags,” said the newcomer, who once again left his Russian team-mate Nikita Masepin behind.
The second round was not without sheet metal damage either. The Australian Daniel Ricciardo slammed his McLaren into the wall in turn three, again the track guards switched the traffic lights to red. That was especially bad luck for Sebastian Vettel, who was thus deprived of one last attempt for a faster lap and just finished eleventh retired.
When he found out that he was only missing three hundredths, he was just barely able to hold back a strong curse on the radio. “Bitter, but that’s part of the route. That shows that every shot has to be right here, ”said the 33-year-old at Sky. And the final lap was also ended by a crash. Yuki Tsunoda suddenly got stuck in the barrier with his Alpha Tauri. The big final act was canceled, Leclerc had already done enough with his first lap.