Chares Leclerc Bounces back to Secure Pole in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix
In a time when Ferrari F1 team seemed to be struggling with every issue possible, a silver lining emerged in Baku. Charles Leclerc has secured his first pole position of 2023 for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. This is Leclerc’s third consecutive pole position in Baku having secured the same in 2021 and 2022. This pole finish is the ray of hope Ferrari has needed this year currently sitting 4th in the constructors championship. It also marked a turn of fortunes for Leclerc, who’s last pole was at the 2022 Singapore Grand Prix 6 months ago.
Leclerc is in an unfamiliar P10 in the drivers championship standings. The Ferraris have experienced reliability issues in the early season stages. Leclerc has had two DNFs thus far in 2023. It is promising to see them back on top as a contender for taking the competition to Red Bull who have seemed almost untouchable thus far in 2023.
The top 3 was rounded out by Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing) and Sergio Perez (Red Bull Racing). Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) finished in 4th as the best of the rest; 8 tenths behind his teammate Leclerc. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes AMG F1) showed good form with a P5 finish in qualifying which is a positive after early season complications with the W14. Hamilton will be building off of his P2 finish from Australian and the Mercedes camp look to improve the car and get back to being competitive for race wins.
The Bottom Half of Q3
Lando Norris (McLaren) and Yuki Tsunoda (Aplha Tauri) secure a spot in the top 10 with P7 and P8 finishes. McLaren have failed to make Q3 in two of the three races in 2023 thus far. Both cars finishing in the top 10 is a good sign that the team has made some improvements. We won’t know if this early success will lead to a meaningful finish until the grand prix, but before that we have a sprint race. We will use the sprint as a proxy to determine how well the McLarens are stacking up to the competition. Piastri rounded out the last spot in Q3 finishing about 1.4s slower behind the session leader.
Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) surprisingly fell back in the pecking order. He finished P6 in Q3 a full second behind the leader Leclerc. George Russell failed to make it out of Q2 which is surprising considering his early found pace. You can check out the full results below.
Full Azerbaijan Grand Prix Qualifying Results
|2||1||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT||1:41.398||1:40.822||1:40.391||20|
|3||11||Sergio Perez||RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT||1:41.756||1:41.131||1:40.495||21|
|6||14||Fernando Alonso||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||1:41.720||1:41.370||1:41.253||23|
|7||4||Lando Norris||MCLAREN MERCEDES||1:42.154||1:41.485||1:41.281||20|
|8||22||Yuki Tsunoda||ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT||1:42.234||1:41.569||1:41.581||23|
|9||18||Lance Stroll||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||1:42.524||1:41.576||1:41.611||23|
|10||81||Oscar Piastri||MCLAREN MERCEDES||1:42.455||1:41.636||1:41.611||24|
|12||31||Esteban Ocon||ALPINE RENAULT||1:42.622||1:41.798||19|
|13||23||Alexander Albon||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:42.171||1:41.818||19|
|14||77||Valtteri Bottas||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||1:42.582||1:42.259||19|
|15||2||Logan Sargeant||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:42.242||1:42.395||19|
|16||24||Zhou Guanyu||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||1:42.642||11|
|17||27||Nico Hulkenberg||HAAS FERRARI||1:42.755||10|
|18||20||Kevin Magnussen||HAAS FERRARI||1:43.417||9|
|19||10||Pierre Gasly||ALPINE RENAULT||1:44.853||6|
|NC||21||Nyck De Vries||ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT||1:55.282||3|
Q1 107% time – 1:48.357
Note – De Vries failed to set a time within 107% in Q1. It is yet to be determined if he will race.