|Photo Credit: Mark Sutton/LAT Images/Pirelli|
The last Formula 1 race on the streets of Monaco started without a key member; the race’s pole sitter. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc recorded the fastest lap in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix but would be unable to take part in the Sunday main event due to damage to his #16 Ferrari SF21 race vehicle. Two weeks later, the Monegasque driver grabs the pole position for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix endeavouring to make it translate into a stronger race day performance than his unfortunate withdraw from his home grand prix.
Charles Leclerc’s 1-minute, 41.218-second lap in Q3 on the 20-turn, 6.003-kilometer (3.730-mile) Baku City Circuit netted him his second consecutive pole in the 2021 season. The one and only other time Leclerc recorded multiple consecutive pole positions was in the 2019 season when the Monaco native went on a four-race streak of starting in the prime grid spot.
|Photo Credit: Foto Colombo Images/Scuderia Ferrari Press Office|
Qualifying for the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix contained a number of ‘deja vu’ elements reflecting back to the time trials that set the grid for the Monaco Grand Prix. In addition to Scuderia Ferrari and Red Bull Racing drivers being favoured as front row starters leading into the session, the latter part of the Q3 session was ended under a red flag preventing several drivers missing out on the last moments in the 10-minute window to set a fast time. Repeating of the events of Monaco qualifying was the red flag incident related to a crashed Ferrari. However, the difference Baku was the damaged Ferrari car belonged to Carlos Sainz Jr. Caught off-guard by the wheel lock-up and crash of Scuderia AlphaTauri competitor Yuki Tsunoda ahead of him in turn 3, a distracted Spanish driver locked the brakes of his #55 machine sliding through remains of the high-speed backstretch. Requiring a new front wing assembly for Sunday’s event, Sainz will start the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in 5ht place.
Red flags interrupted qualifying on four occasions through the three sessions in Azerbaijan. Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and Alfa Romeo Racing’s Antonio Giovinazzi were the culprits of two red flag stoppages in the opening Q1 session both impacting the turn 15 wall on the tight Baku City Circuit. Prior to the Q3 contest shortened by the Tsunoda/Sainz Jr. incident, Q2 ended early when Daniel Ricciardo crashed his McLaren in the third turn. Five of the twenty starters for the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix sustained crash damage complicating the efforts of the drivers and race crews competing on the tricky track.
Unlike the previous street course event, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team and driver Lewis Hamilton was effective in mounting a solid fight for the pole position on the Baku City Circuit. Leading the field after the Q1 round with a 1-minute, 41.545-second lap time, Hamilton ultimately settled for second on the grid for the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix 0.232 seconds slower than Charles Leclerc.
|Photo Credit: Charles Coates/LAT Images/Pirelli|
Annoyed by the red flags in qualifying for a second Formula 1 race in a row, Max Verstappen and his #33 Red Bull Racing car will start the 51-lap event in third place alongside Scuderia AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly. Gasly tied his career-best qualifying performance that the Frenchman accomplished in the 2019 German Grand Prix and the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz Jr. and McLaren pilot Lando Norris was initially set for the third row but race stewards ruled the latter competitor remained on track during red flag conditions in Q1. Norris has been demoted to ninth place while Sergio Perez, Yuki Tsunoda and Fernando Alonso are all elevated on the grid. Mercedes-AMG driver Valtteri Bottas rounds out the top-10 starters for Sunday’s main feature.
Scheduled to start at 4 p.m. local time (8 a.m. in the Eastern time zone) the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix has the potential of being one of the more exciting races on the calendar so far if it matches previous Formula 1 events in Baku.
2021 Formula 1 Season
Azerbaijan Grand Prix
|Pos #||Car #||Driver||Team||Engine|
|1||16||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Misson Winnow Ferrari||Ferrari|
|2||44||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team||Mercedes-Benz|
|3||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||Honda|
|4||10||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia AlphaTauri||Honda|
|5||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||Scuderia Misson Winnow Ferrari||Ferrari|
|6||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing||Honda|
|7||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Scuderia AlphaTauri||Honda|
|8||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine F1 Team||Renault|
|9||4||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team||Mercedes-Benz|
|10||77||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team||Mercedes-Benz|
|11||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team||Mercedes-Benz|
|12||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine F1 Team||Renault|
|13||3||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren F1 Team||Mercedes-Benz|
|14||7||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo Racing||Ferrari|
|15||63||George Russell||Williams Racing||Mercedes-Benz|
|16||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Racing||Mercedes-Benz|
|17||47||Mick Schumacher||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||Ferrari|
|18||9||Nikita Mazepin||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||Ferrari|
|19||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team||Mercedes-Benz|
|20||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing||Ferrari|