Valtteri Bottas took advantage of Leclerc’s demise to edge out Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton and seal an unlikely pole.
The silver cars had been no match for Ferrari this weekend, but will line up one and two in Baku.
Sebastian Vettel was only third on an evening to forget for Ferrari.
Leclerc’s hopes of putting his Ferrari on pole position ended in the barriers after he crashed out of qualifying.
The Ferrari driver had been the favourite to secure the front slot on the grid after dominating practice here in Baku.
But Leclerc, 21, clipped the kerb at the left-handed entry to the narrow castle section, and went head-on into the barrier on the opposing side of the track.
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“I am stupid, I am stupid,” a furious Leclerc said over the radio before hitting his car with both hands as he emerged from its cockpit.
Leclerc tweeted: “No excuses. I’ve been useless. I will push to have a better tomorrow.
“Sorry to all the people supporting us and even more to the whole team that deserved so much better.”
More to follow
Final Positions after Qualifying:
- Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP 1min 40.495secs
- Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:40.554
- Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1:40.797
- Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:41.069
- Sergio Perez (Mex) Racing Point 1:41.593
- Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:41.681
- Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1:41.886
- Antonio Giovinazzi (Ita) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:42.424
- Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:43.068
- Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari no time set
- Carlos Sainz (Spa) McLaren 1:42.398
- Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Renault 1:42.477
- Alexander Albon (Tha) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:42.494
- Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:42.699
- Pierre Gasly (Fra) Red Bull no time set
- Lance Stroll (Can) Racing Point 1:42.630
- Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas F1 1:43.407
- Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault 1:43.427
- George Russell (Gbr) Williams 1:45.062
- Robert Kubica (Pol) Williams 1:45.455
Right, that’s me signing off from a very long and eventful qualifying session
Back tomorrow around noon. Thanks for joining me. Well done Valtteri. I promise tomorrow’s race will be better than the Chinese Grand Prix of two weeks ago.
The moment Leclerc’s qualifying hopes ended…
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Where did Mercedes’ pace come from?
Well, losing a man who looked to have the rest of the field under control (Leclerc) to a crash wasn’t ideal for Ferrari but it was a big turnaround. Toto Wolff says Leclerc would have had pole but that the dropping temperatures helped them out. Or that they were just better as the time went on. Not sure I am buying whatever he is selling.
Vettel reacts to third
I don’t know if they stole it. I think they were a bit quicker than us today. It was quite tricky, the session was very long, the sun was going down and the track was cooling down. In the end, I had a good lap but I had no tow to close the lap so that cost a bit. Happy that we got sort of the maximum out. We were expecting to have a better session. I would say going with the other people [the tow is worth] probably about three tenths. I prioritised to push on the out lap and have the tyres. Maybe I regret that I didn’t take the gamble on.
Hamilton reacts to his second spot on the grid
It has been so close all weekend. Ferrari have looked incredibly quick. Valtteri did an exceptional job in qualifying. It’s a great result for us. For us to lock out the front row…I am really grateful for it. It puts us in a good position for tomorrow. Pace-wise we are slightly closer in race trim than it seemed in qualifying.
It was a nice lap and like I said Ferrari have been really strong. As a team we did really good to be where we are now after such a difficult practice. It’s all about small margins and I did get a good tow in the last lap. It’s all about fine details and I managed to hit the sweet spot. It was getting trickier and trickier. We are not supposed to race that late here.
Well…that is a turnaround from Mercedes…
…they have a net gain over Ferrari by 1.8s from FP3 to Q3. Or thereabouts.
VALTTERI BOTTAS TAKES POLE FOR THE 2019 AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX!
Vettel goes P2! Bottas goes quickest! By two tenths of a second! Hamilton is slower! He doesn’t beat Bottas.
Mercedes lock out the front row!
Wow. What a lap at the very death. He laughs on the radio. He got a tow from somewhere…
Q3 – final hot laps underway…
The Mercedes cars have to back off MASSIVELY at the end of the lap. They will get through to set a time but they will have cold tyres going into turn one and the rest of the hot lap. Vettel leads them away.
Vettel’s first sector is quickest. Just! Hamilton doesn’t improve. Bottas does…but he’s slower than Vettel…
Vettel loses time in sector two. He’s a tenth away…can he make up the time at the end of the lap?
It’s SO CLOSE!
Q3 – Daniil Kvyat on a decent run…
He has yet to set a time but he has a clear track with which to try it. Leclerc obviously won’t set a time. The Russian goes into P6 ahead of Norris by nearly a second. Nice work.
Hamilton and Bottas line up at the end of the pit lane for a practice start. Weird. Vettel out as well. Will everyone be able to get over the line in time? You’d hope so but the jockeying for position has already started. And it’s messy.
Mercedes could be at risk of not getting over the line here. Verstappen pulls into the pits and will not set another time. Currently P2.
Q3 – Verstappen improves!
Verstappen goes into P2! He backed off and did another hot lap. Will that be his last lap? There’s four minutes left in the session. There is time, just about, for him to do a hot lap after a very quick stop, traffic permitting.
Q3 – order after the first runs
- VET +0.4
- BOT +0.5
- VER +0.7
- PER +0.9
- NOR +1.9
- GIO +2.1
- RAI +4.6
Verstappen is up on his time…he’s looking at P2 here…
Q3 – Hamilton posts the best lap of the weekend
Hamilton flying. He’s 0.6 up! Bottas goes quickest by 0.275…but Hamilton blows that away by 0.473s! Vettel looks off the pace of those two…he goes quickest in the final sector but he’s still 0.4s away from Hamilton!
Hmmm. Must’ve taken those sandbags off from practice, eh lads?
Q3 – Verstappen quickest so far
Verstappen looking tidy throughout the lap. Barely a single wheel out of place. Hamilton has gone quickest in Q1 by a couple of tenths. Vettel within a tenth or so, the closest challenger.
It’s a 1.41.447 from Verstappen. What can the rest do?
Q3 – first runs underway
Tyre prep very important on a track which is being run on later than ever. Qualifying should have finished 40 minutes ago…
Verstappen will be the first of the big lads to get a lap time in.
12 minutes to go. That was a very good interview from Leclerc. He knows he threw pole away today. Can Vettel find the pace for his first pole of the season?
Charles Leclerc speaks after his accident
Yep. I deserve what happened today. I am very sad for what happened but I deserve it. I have been stupid as I say on the radio. I have calmed down but I still think I have been stupid. I will learn from this. I don’t want to say anything stupid but…pole was possible today and I threw all the potential in the bin.
I am very disappointed and I will come back stronger. I braked as much as I did on the soft but obviously I was on the medium and I locked up. But [there are] no problems with the tyres. For now, for the next three or four hours I will just be beating myself up.
Q2 – top 10
All of these are through to final qualifying.
- BOT +0.112
- HAM +0.192
- PER +0.482
- VET +0.501
- LEC +0.607
- RAI +0.694
- NOR +0.696
- KVY +0.833
- GIO +0.993
Giovinazzi through but takes a hefty grid penalty. Leclerc through but will not run as his car is in several hundred bits. Still will start in the top 10 unless they have to replace something that incurs a grid penalty.
So Red Bull are not going to use Gasly to tow Verstappen. Could Red Bull take pole here?
Norris sneaks into the top 10! Sainz doesn’t improve. Ricciardo doesn’t improve…Daniil Kvyat hits the wall…but he’s through. Albon has a bit of a moment…he’s not through and that could have cost him a place in Q3.
Verstappen quickest at the end of the session.
Q2 – Perez improves to go up to…
…P4. Nice. 0.4s off Verstappen. Vettel is improving but he’s still not near Verstappen’s time but it’s a personal best in sector one. Ricciardo hanging around the cusp of the cut off…
Q2 – Kevin Magnussen just clipped the wall with his rear on the same section
…as Leclerc crashed in. Gets away with it. Vettel improves by 0.5s in sector one. He’s not quickest but it might be enough to set up a decent lap time. The crash area is free from dust and foam and debris. Vettel is going to improve by he’s 0.8s down by the end of it. He’s seventh and will need to run for another quick lap, I reckon? But these are the tyres he’ll start on…
Current running order with two minutes left:
Most will be doing another quick lap. So plenty to play for.
Q2 – Vettel the first driver out…
…he’s out on the soft compound. He’s currently in the drop zone so needs to improve. He can’t wait until the end. He NEEDS to get a lap in to get through to Q3. No mistakes, Seb.
Let’s not forget that are still seven or eight minutes of this session to go…
…which is also going to be very tricky. No word of when the session will restart. Can’t be far away from an announcement, either. Vettel, when he got sideways in turn 8 and 9, clipped the other barrier.
Q2 – Red Flag still out…
…looks like they’re still cleaning up the track surface there. A marshal has a load of Williams bodywork by his feet and looks like he’s adding some Ferrari bits to it. Is this going to be another case of Ferrari throwing away a superb position?
Good point by Paul DiResta on Sky Sports…
…that Vettel still needs to find time. He’s down in P12 at the moment.
Here’s the running order so far.
Leclerc’s car on the back of a flatbed truck…
Really, he should have bailed out and gone down the escape road.
Questions being raised…
…about Ferrari being on the slower, harder medium tyres. But that is not the cause of this. It was driver error, simply.
Q2 – Verstappen quickest before Red Flag
Leclerc is crestfallen. They are still removing his car from the barriers. It’s his biggest mistake of the season when it was going so well.
Replays show Vettel going sideways…
…into the same place where Leclerc crashed. But he got away with it. Leclerc not so much. He will learn from these mistakes. But he will be starting well down the field tomorrow. And when he looked odds-on for pole. This presents a chance for…well, everyone really.
“I am stupid. I am stupid”
Leclerc says on the team radio. He is gutted. He’s okay himself but that is a nightmare. He was the quickest driver out there.
He locked up into turns eight and nine…and just went straight on. He could have bailed out but he tried to get round the corner and skidded into the barriers. This will be another delay…
Q2 – 8 mins to go…
…Ferrari go out for another run, as does everyone else. Bottas improves in sector one…Sauber trying the two between their two cars.
RED FLAG – LECLERC IN THE BARRIERS!
Q2 – Verstappen goes quickest!
Faster than both Mercedes cars. Vettel’s lap time is slower than anyone else by a mile, currently. Not sure what happened there. He’s two seconds off Verstappen’s time and 0.5 away from Albon. Medium tyres don’t account for that much and he’ll have to go again. On softs…?
Q2 – Bottas goes quickest…
…just 0.058s ahead of Hamilton. Leclerc was 0.473s down on the medium compound.
Q2 – first runs underway…
…Hamilton looking keen. He made a bit of a mess of Q1. ONLY the two Ferraris trying the medium compound of tyres here. He sets a 35.5 from Hamilton, Bottas a tenth down. Leclerc is a few tenths further back, though…
Q2 a matter of minutes away. Difficult to know where we all stand after that, with lap times tumbling and not everyone being able to complete a flying lap.
Romain Grosjean reacts to his elimination…
Just no pace. Feeling hasn’t been good during the weekend. Jumping out of the car and seeing the leaderboard, the shock of losing one second to get into Q2 is a lot. Anything can happen in Baku tomorrow. Hopefully come back strong tomorrow and then…behave under the safety car.
Q2 will start at 2.50pm BST. Seven minutes’ time.
So, McLaren, Toro Rosso and Alfa Romeo…
…look to be in with a decent shout of making it through to Q3. Haas, Renault and Racing Point seem to be the midfield strugglers this weekend.
A nice little confidence boost for Gasly there…
…despite him starting from the pit lane tomorrow, it’s always good to top a session.
The classification from Q1 then
Out:STR, GRO, HUL, RUS, KUB
15 minute delay until Q2…
…as they repair the damaged barrier. Hmmm. 15 minutes more for the track to cool down. Tyre warm-up has been a struggle this weekend. That’ll be fun!
Whilst I cannot entirely understand how Kubica feels…
…I did the very same thing at the same place yesterday playing F1 2018 on my PS4. It’s tricky, even on a computer game.
They have the recovery vehicle out…
…hopefully they can keep it away from any low bridges this time.
This will probably delay the start of Q2 a little as they have to repair the barriers.
Renault really struggled in that session…
…Daniel Ricciardo did very well to end up into Q2. Sadly Hulkenberg is out, though. Red Bull could surprise a few today…
Q1 ends…Gasly quickest…
…and with that, the session ends.
Kubica thwacked the inside line of the barriers on the left of turn nine which meant he went straight on and into the barriers. Not a massive crash in terms of speed but a big thump straight on.
Ricciardo improves a little…
And that’s a big crash! It’s Kubica. He’s on the radio and he’s ok. But he apologises. It’s made a big mess of the barriers on the tightest part of the track. He’s out of the vehicle.
Q1 – final runs underway
Ricciardo, in the drop zone, starts his flying lap. He has a Racing Point ahead of him…could it cause him trouble? Or will it help him on the straight…
Sainz has gone into P5! Are Bottas and Vettel in danger here? Surely not. Ricciardo improves in the first sector. And the second…
Q1 – Three minutes remain…
…Times tumbling out there now. Verstappen needs to make sure he sets a time. Of course, he will try, but a small mistake could be costly. He is in danger of going out if he doesn’t.
Drivers in danger:
Verstappen flying now…he goes P4. Should be safe.
…has just said that Pierre Gasly was not even running in the higher engine mode. He got up to a mighty top speed with the tow.
Q1 – top 10 with five minutes to go…
Gasly goes quickest! From nowhere…he did get a tow, though. Still.
Q1 – Hamilton improves to go P3…
…He’s still 0.846 off the pace and two tenths off Bottas’s time. For reference: that’s only 1.1s away from P14. With track evolution as it is, he will need to go again.
Q1 – Drivers in danger
20. HUL (no time)
Hamilton is currently P15. Verstappen P12. They will both need to go again. Hamilton not able to string a lap together yet.
Q1 – Leclerc goes quickest
Well, we talked about track evolution. Giovinazzi has just gone third and Kvyat fourth! Leclerc pops up with a very quick time on his second run…a 1.41.426! Quickest by 0.6s.
Albon goes fifth. Nice work. He’s 1.164s off the pace. I’ll tell you this now, though, both Renaults are having a nightmare under braking.
Nine minutes to go.
Q1 – 11 minutes to go…
…Vettel is on a hot lap. He’s quickest in sector one, still up by sector two…he gets a tow from the car ahead on the final straight reaching a top speed of 336km/h. It’s quickest by 0.082 ahead of Bottas. Hamilton sets a time but he’s a way off, possibly affected by a flat spot. Hes in P6. 1.1s down.
Q1 – Raikkonen quickest of the first bunch to set a time
…it’s a 1.43.415. That was decent. Bottas blows it out of the water, relatively, with a 1.42.4. Leclerc, however, sets a time that’s two tenths away. Hamilton messed up his lap, missing turn three and going straight on. Perez, as we said, goes well here. He’s third currently with a 1.42.7, which is sharp!
Q1 – 17 minutes to go
Both Ferraris out early. May as well. The problem here if you wait is being caught out by a red or yellow flag somewhere. One run will almost certainly be enough for them here but when they are (probably) so far ahead it’s not worth the risk.
I boldly predicted Bottas to win this weekend…
No credit for that one, yet. Would be good to see a Leclerc-led Ferrari front row. And then see how Ferrari muddle a way to swap both of their drivers around…
Toto Wolff has just told Sky Sports F1…
…that Ferrari are basically unbeatable in qualifying here. Well, let’s see. It’s nearly time to find out.
5 minutes until Q1 begins.
Driver standings after three races
- Lewis Hamilton 68
- Valtteri Bottas 62
- Max Verstappen 39
- Sebastian Vettel 37
- Charles Leclerc 36
- Pierre Gasly 13
- Kimi Räikkönen 12
- Lando Norris GBR 8
- Kevin Magnussen 8
- Nico Hulkenberg 6
- Daniel Ricciardo 6
- Sergio Perez 5
- Alexander Albon 3
- Lance Stroll 2
- Daniil Kvyat 1
The Toro Rosso cars will be ones to watch in qualifying…
…Albon also has it hooked up around here. He won the feature race last season in F2. Wouldn’t be surprised to see both of them in Q3. I reckon at least one of them, anyway.
…is massive here. But qualifying begins at 5pm in the afternoon Baku time. And by that point the shadows have fallen onto much of the track. And with the air temperature being a moderate 17C today it means tyres are cold and braking points are inevitably missed. A single mistake on a run could be very costly.
Anyway, here’s the Baku City Circuit in all its glory
Funny old shape, isn’t it? Looks like a gun? A pair of handcuffs run over by a truck? Or a junior hacksaw?
Looking back at those times in FP3 in a bit more detail
You would expect Mercedes to claw some of that back. Look how close they are to the Toro Rosso times. Perhaps they will even get most of that time back. But a whole 1.5 seconds? That would be quite the turnaround. Charles Leclerc has it hooked up around here. Mercedes looked to be a bit off in the middle sector, which is the tightest bit. Sector 3 is basically flat out. We will have to see what happens in qualifying and analyse sector times, set-ups, top speed and so, though.
Decent for Russell to be within 0.2s of Kubica after missing the whole of FP3. And Red Bull should try to get Gasly into Q3 for the sake of Max Verstappen. Yes, he will be starting from the pit lane and it may mean compromising their tyre strategy a bit but the tow-effect is mighty in the final sector. And if there’s even an outside chance of Verstappen troubling the first or second row…
And here’s Daniil Kvyat running into the barriers yesterday…
…look at his brakes on fire! It’s a very hard braking circuit, this one.
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Pierre Gasly will start from the pit lane for tomorrow’s race…
…because of an incident in FP2 yesterday, where he missed the weighbridge after being called in. It seems a little harsh but his season is not exactly going from strength to strength. Still, the Red Bull looks decent-ish around Baku – and may be closer to the front than in past races. With a high chance of a safety car there could be an opportunity for him tomorrow.
Did I mention it was an incident packed practice yesterday?
This morning’s final practice was a little more sedate. Not a single red flag!
The incident that caused all the fuss yesterday…
….well, not ALL the fuss. Because further to this, the crane recovering the Williams crashed into a bridge. Oops.
Final times from FP3
- Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1min 41.604secs
- Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1:41.802
- Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:42.852
- Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP 1:43.064
- Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:43.176
- Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:43.223
- Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:43.294
- Alexander Albon (Tha) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:43.300
- Sergio Perez (Mex) Racing Point 1:43.430
- Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:43.537
- Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Renault 1:43.561
- Antonio Giovinazzi (Ita) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:43.637
- Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1:43.924
- Carlos Sainz (Spa) McLaren 1:43.978
- Lance Stroll (Can) Racing Point 1:44.039
- Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault 1:44.043
- Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas F1 1:44.374
- Robert Kubica (Pol) Williams 1:46.000
- George Russell (Gbr) Williams 1:46.290
- Pierre Gasly (Fra) Red Bull 1:47.836
Afternoon, F1 fans
We return to Azerbaijan for the fourth time and for the fourth round of the 2019 season. Baku in its first year did not provide much drama but the last two years the races have been nothing short of chaotic. Yesterday’s running in practice was similarly frantic.
FP1 was red flagged and cancelled after just over 10 minutes as George Russell‘s Williams ran over a loose drain cover, destroying the floor of his car. Naturally that eliminated him from running in the session (and indeed in FP2) but the stray cover ensured that checks had to be done on each and every one of the 300 or so of them around the track. And that meant cancelling the session.
FP2 started on time but saw a whole host of cars struggling with cold tyres on a fairly cold track. Many a driver locked up under braking into turns 1 and 2. Lance Stroll and Daniil Kvyat had the biggest of incidents, the Russian Toro Rosso driver making a big mess of the left-hand side of his car indeed.
In final practice, though, Ferrari looked the pick of the bunch. Especially Charles Leclerc, who finished fastest, two tenths of a second ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel. He had his breakthrough F1 result for Sauber last year and also won here in F2 in 2017. Max Verstappen was third, with the two Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton behind him, 1.5s off the Ferrari pace. Mercedes, it seems, have (at least) some work to do. But we have said that before – it’s likely they were not showing their hand – and they have produced the goods.
With the midfield as tight as ever, small fluctuations and differences in performance from track to track has left the order a little mixed up heading into qualifying. The Toro Rosso look strong and McLaren look to have found some of the pace they lacked in China.
I’ll be here for the next couple of hours with all the build-up, latest updates and reaction from qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
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