Leclerc takes pole for Azerbaijan GP

2 - GP AZERBAIJAN F1/2023 - VENERDÌ 28/04/2023

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has had a ragged start to the 2023 season with two DNF’s in the first three races but perhaps the tide might be turning as the Monegasque put his car on pole position for Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

It’s Leclerc’s third pole in Baku and he’s followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez. Meanwhile, it was a tough day for Alpine’s Pierre Gasly who suffered a fire in practice and hit the wall in qualifying. The session was marred by two red flags for Gasly and Nyck De Vries.

Pirelli’s Road to Pole:

  • Charles Leclerc has claimed the Azerbaijan Grand Prix pole position for the third consecutive time. The Ferrari driver set a best Q3 time of 1m40.203s on P Zero Red soft, heading Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by 0.188s. Red Bull’s Sergio Perez will line up third after setting a time of 1m40.495s, 0.521s faster than the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz in fourth. Qualifying was interrupted by a couple of red flags in Q1.
  • Verstappen was fastest with a 1m42.315s in this weekend’s sole free practice session this morning, which was disrupted by a red flag 15 minutes after the start. Leclerc was second with 1m42.352s, 0.102s faster than Perez, with the top three all on soft tyres. Verstappen’s benchmark was more than three seconds faster than the equivalent 2022 FP1 session in similar track conditions; probably down to greater grip from the asphalt this year, which was earlier cleaned by high-pressure water jets.
  • The drivers also tried the P Zero White hard and P Zero Yellow medium in FP1. The fastest driver on the hard was Sainz with a 1m44.234s, while Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso was quickest on the medium with a 1m43.560s. The performance gap between the compounds was as expected, while there was a high degree of track evolution. Unlike other race weekends, all the data so far has been based on just one practice session.
  • Temperatures dropped considerably between FP1 and qualifying, with track temperatures of 42 to 43 degrees centigrade in the morning and a minimum of 28 degrees for qualifying. Despite the proximity of the track to the Caspian Sea, gusting winds of between 20 to 25kph didn’t particularly influence the action today, with clear skies throughout.
  • Leclerc received his Pirelli Pole Position Award from Pirelli’s Head of Motorsport Mario Isola, thanks to a time that was more than a second faster than his pole last year. The polesitter for tomorrow’s Sprint Race will instead be given the new Pirelli Sprint Shootout Award: a personalised Pirelli cap in the colours of the Azerbaijan flag by Swiss artist Saiff Vasarhelyi. He creates his works using a technique that combines painting and graffiti, inspired by modern art as well as traditional painters such as Pablo Picasso. Vasarhelyi, an enthusiastic F1 fan, has collaborated in the past with different drivers and teams, with his work forming part of a capsule collection within Pirelli’s merchandise range as a variant of the traditional podium cap.

Qualifying Results:

1Charles LeclercFerrari1m41.269s1m41.037s1m40.203s
2Max VerstappenRed Bull1m41.398s1m40.822s1m40.391s
3Sergio PérezRed Bull1m41.756s1m41.131s1m40.495s
4Carlos SainzFerrari1m42.197s1m41.369s1m41.016s
5Lewis HamiltonMercedes1m42.113s1m41.65s1m41.177s
6Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-Mercedes1m41.72s1m41.37s1m41.253s
7Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1m42.154s1m41.485s1m41.281s
8Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda RBPT1m42.234s1m41.569s1m41.581s
9Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1m42.524s1m41.576s1m41.611s
10Oscar PiastriMcLaren-Mercedes1m42.455s1m41.636s1m41.611s
11George RussellMercedes1m42.073s1m41.654s
12Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1m42.622s1m41.798s
13Alex AlbonWilliams-Mercedes1m42.171s1m41.818s
14Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1m42.582s1m42.259s
15Logan SargeantWilliams-Mercedes1m42.242s1m42.395s
16Guanyu ZhouAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1m42.642s
17Nico HülkenbergHaas-Ferrari1m42.755s
18Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1m43.417s
19Pierre GaslyAlpine-Renault1m44.853s
20Nyck de VriesAlphaTauri-Honda RBPT1m55.282s
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