Leclerc grabs pole once again through the streets of Baku
It was a great battle once again between Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen during qualifying for the sprint race. In the end, the Ferrari driver grabbed another pole position ahead of Sergio Perez and Verstappen, who struggled in Q3.
With the new sprint weekend format, it was already time for exciting action on Saturday morning. No free practice and the drivers had to immediately adapt to different weather conditions (it was hotter and there was less wind), and even different tire pressure that was modified by Pirelli.
Three qualifying sessions (12 minutes, 10 minutes, and 8 minutes long) will set the starting grid for the sprint race of the afternoon. Another change in the qualifying format was that all drivers had to use new medium tires in Q1 and Q2, while for Q3 they had to use new softs.
In Q1, Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen exchanged the top spot, just like they did yesterday, with the Ferrari driver being the fastest. Behind them, Mercedes, Aston Martin, Sergio Perez, and Carlos Sainz were close to each other. In the final seconds of the session, Logan Sargeant hit the wall and wrecked his car, causing a red flag and ending the session earlier.
The second session was similar to the first one, with Verstappen being faster than Leclerc this time. Sainz was 0.492 seconds behind, with Perez, Alonso, Hamilton, Russell, Stroll, Albon, and Norris completing the top 10. This time, there were no crashes, with only a few cars going wide under braking, causing no issues.
After the first flying lap, it was Leclerc ahead of Perez and Verstappen, with the latter having issues with the rear end during his lap. In the second attempt, Perez improved as well as his teammate, but it wasn't enough to go faster than Leclerc, who also finished in the wall in his last lap damaging the front wing. Perez was second, Verstappen third. Russell, Sainz, Hamilton, Albon, Alonso, Stroll, and Norris completed the top 10.