What a crazy Saturday session it was in Baku!
Turn 15 was the real protagonist of this afternoon’s qualifying. Two red flags during Q1 stopped the session as Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin and Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo crashed against the barriers.
No, no, no. 😩— Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team (@AstonMartinF1) June 5, 2021
Lance Stroll collided with the barriers out of Turn 15 and caused the first red flag of the session – with Leclerc being the only driver to have set a time on the soft compound tyres before the interruption.
The Canadian attempted to make the corner at Turn 15 but he locked up the front right before the apex and crashed into the wall. That's the same corner that ended Leclerc’s session yesterday and caused Verstappen to end his FP3 earlier today.
Heartbreaking 😞 Antonio hits the wall and brings out the red flag. Session is suspended. #AzerbaijanGP— Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN (@alfaromeoracing) June 5, 2021
When the session resumed, it stopped again soon after, with the dynamic of Giovinazzi’s crash being very similar to that of Stroll. It was a real shame for the Italian, who seemed in very good form this weekend, with a decent chance of making Q3.
After the two breaks, the Q1 fragment lasted just over nine minutes, and it was very much of struggle to get out on track and get a lap in. Indeed, only ten teams had set their times before the second flag.
With so many cars looking quick in Azerbaijan, the midfield so incredibly tight and Mercedes still struggling to find pace, it was certainly not beyond the pale to suggest they might struggle to make it to Q3, especially considering the time lost due to incidents.
Lewis Hamilton concluded his session in second position, only 0.232 seconds behind polesitter Leclerc; while teammate Valtteri Bottas arrived 10th.
It’s redemption time for Leclerc, who conquers his second pole position of the year after the disaster in Monaco. Leclerc took advantage of a tow served by Mercedes, which proved to be absolutely crucial today.
Tsunoda locked up and hit the barriers at Turn 3 on the final runs. Carlos Sainz was immediately behind, he got distracted by the puff of smoke and locked up himself and slid into the barriers in the run-off area. This caused the fourth flag of the afternoon.
Red Bull looked comfortably ahead of everyone else for the entire weekend, with both drivers being quick all day yesterday. Sergio Perez confirmed his newfound sync with the car and finished FP3 second on the grid. On the other side of the garage, missed the final 35 minutes of running after crashing into the wall at Turn 15.
The Dutchman crosses the line in the third position while the Mexican is 7th.
Lando Norris, who has had an impressive start of the season and looked quick in qualifying as of late, will be investigated after the session due to a potential infringement of red flag procedures. As of now, he crossed the checkered flag in 6th position.
His teammate Daniel Ricciardo caused the third flag of the session, ending Q2 with 1m 29s still on the clock. He'll be 13th on the grid tomorrow.
The two AlphaTauri boys have had an amazing weekend so far. The French Pierre Gasly topped FP3, ahead of Sergio Perez and will start from the second row of the grid tomorrow.
Rookie Yuki Tsunoda seemed very quick too, conquering his first Q3 appearance. He ended the session with an unfortunate crash, but he will be in P8 tomorrow.
Never good to see the red flag, but this one gives us a valuable few minutes for the team to work on George’s car 👊 pic.twitter.com/bBBJSlHNms— Williams Racing (@WilliamsRacing) June 5, 2021
Williams is probably the only team who was happy with the initial red flag, which gave them precious time to continue working on George Russell’s car that required a power unit change due to a water pump leak.
Indeed, the British driver made it two Q2 and finished the session in 15th position, just ahead of teammate Nicholas Latifi.
Baku didn’t play it fair for Aston Martin. After Stroll’s crash, the team could be in hot water for an unsafe release for Vettel at the beginning of the second segment of qualy.
Moreover, after the Australian driver Ricciardo ran straight hitting the wall causing the session to stop earlier, Vettel didn’t make it to Q3 by only three-hundredth. He will start from P11 tomorrow.
Fernando Alonso climbed his way to Q3 and finished the session in 9th position while his French teammate Esteban Ocon, who was eliminated in Q2, is 12th on the grid.
Kimi Raikkonen will start from the 14th place on the grid, in front of the Williams.
Both Haas drivers were eliminated in Q1 and they will start P17 and P18, just ahead of Lance Stroll and Antonio Giovinazzi who could not set a time.