Leclerc surprised to secure consecutive poles

Steve Etherington/Motorsport Images

Leclerc surprised to secure consecutive poles

Formula 1

Leclerc surprised to secure consecutive poles


Charles Leclerc didn’t think much of his fast lap in qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and was surprised to find himself on pole position.

Ferrari was extremely competitive in Monaco — where Leclerc took pole but failed to start the race — but was expecting to be back in the midfield in Baku given the different nature of the circuit. However, Leclerc was able to produce a strong first attempt in Q3 that gave him provisional pole position by a quarter of a second, and then nobody could improve after AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz crashed.

“It was quite a s••t lap, I thought!” Leclerc said. “There were like two or three corners I did mistakes but then of course, I had the big tow from Lewis (Hamilton) in the last sector, which helped me a little bit; but overall I think we would have been there or thereabouts for pole without the slipstream.

“I didn’t expect to be as competitive as we were today. I think I was improving again with the red flag but it’s like this — another pole. I am happy anyway and hopefully it’s all good for Carlos (Sainz), I hope all OK for the team.

“It definitely feels very good. On the other hand, it’s with the red flag again so I wish we had it on a normal track; but in the end, a pole is a pole.”

As he has tried to do throughout the weekend, Leclerc downplayed expectations for the race, believing Ferrari only has the third-fastest car in race trim after struggling with tire issues during Friday practice on high fuel.

“The car felt quite OK but I believe Mercedes and Red Bull have something more than we have in the race especially. We’ve seen that in FP2 so it’s going to be very difficult because here it’s not like Monaco — they can overtake. I will try to do the best job possible and hopefully, we can keep that first place but it’s going to be difficult.”