Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Baku Street Circuit, 2022

Leclerc beats Perez to Baku pole, Hamilton under investigation

2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix qualifying

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Charles Leclerc claimed his fourth consecutive pole position after beating the two Red Bulls of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen in Azerbaijan.

His Ferrari team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr was on provisional pole as drivers began their final qualifying laps. But a mistake at turn two left him unable to improve.

That opened the door for Leclerc, who thundered to pole with a flying final effort. Sainz’s demise also allowed Perez and Verstappen to take second and third for Red Bull.

Q1

Track temperature was around 37C and dropping by the time the green light illuminated at the end of the pit lane to mark the start of the first qualifying session. Lando Norris led out a long queue of cars at the end of the pit lane with Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari heading up the rear.

(L to R): Sergio Perez, Red Bull; Charles Leclerc, Ferrari; Baku Street Circuit, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix qualifying day in pictures
The two Red Bulls were fastest at the end of the first run, Max Verstappen two tenths of a second faster than Sergio Perez. Leclerc was third, Sainz fourth in the other Ferrari, before George Russell split the Ferraris to take fourth place. Sebastian Vettel became the first driver to venture down one of the many escape roads around the Baku circuit, locking up on the approach to turn three.

Leclerc’s second effort was an improvement and he went fastest with a 1’42.865, less than a tenth quicker than Verstappen. But that was quickly beaten by Perez and then Verstappen, putting Red Bull back on top.

Heading into the final five minutes, the drop zone consisted of the two Williams of Alexander Albon and Nicholas Latifi, Valtteri Bottas’s Alfa Romeo, Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin and Mick Schumacher’s Haas – the latter trio all slower than their team mates by at least a secopnd. Those in potential danger of being knocked down into elimination were Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton and – most in jeopardy – Kevin Magnussen in 15th.

Hamilton improved to go eighth-quickest, but Stroll’s chances of progressing appeared to be ruined when he locked up approaching turn seven and slowly speared into the barrier. Stroll managed to reverse out and recover to the circuit and opted to take another attempt at a fastest lap. But that appeared to backfire when he carried too much speed into turn two, clattering into the outside wall and bringing out the red flags with two-and-a-half minutes remaining.

When the session restarted, Hamilton led the pack back out ahead of team mate Russeell. Further back, there was a mad scramble for drivers to cross the timing line before the chequered flag. Somehow, all 14 cars got there in time, but many did not have a clear track in front of them in which to try and improve.

Out of all of them, only Bottas made any notable improvement, jumping from 17th to 15th, securing safe passage to Q2 at the expense of Kevin Magnussen. Bottas had gone by Fernando Alonso after the Alpine driver ran off the circuit at turn 15, but he appeared to have done so before the first yellow flag was shown in reaction to the incident. Albon behind was furious, suggesting on his radio that Alonso had deliberately gone slowly to sabotage the laps of cars behind him to ensure he would progress.

“He needs to get penalised, this guy,” Albon fumed. “He has to. It’s ridiculous.

“He was doing it the whole lap. He was driving slowly on purpose. It was so obvious how he went off the track. It was ridiculous. He braked so early and then he just went off the circuit.”

Magnussen was eliminated in 16th, ahead of the two Williams cars of Albon and Latifi. Stroll was eliminated in 19th after his crashes, with Schumacher 20th and last after being unable to improve during the melee of the final minute.

Q1 result

PositionNumberDriverTeamModelTimeGapLaps
11Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’42.7227
211Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’42.7330.0116
316Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’42.8650.1437
455Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’42.9570.2357
510Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’43.2680.54611
65Sebastian VettelAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’43.2790.5577
722Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’43.5950.87310
863George RussellMercedesW131’43.7541.03210
924Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’43.7771.0559
1031Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5221’43.9031.1817
1144Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’43.9391.2179
1214Fernando AlonsoAlpine-RenaultA5221’44.0831.3618
134Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’44.2371.5159
143Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’44.4371.7159
1577Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’44.4781.7569
1620Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-221’44.6431.9219
1723Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW441’44.7191.9979
186Nicholas LatifiWilliams-MercedesFW441’45.3672.6458
1918Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’45.3712.6497
2047Mick SchumacherHaas-FerrariVF-221’45.7753.0539

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Q2

The second phase of qualifying saw Red Bull win the race to take to the track first, with Ferrari again hanging back to take advantage of clearer air.

Perez’s first effort, a 1’42.258, was quickly beaten by Verstappen by a few hundredths of a second. Then it was Ferrari’s turn, with Sainz crossing the line to beat the Red Bulls by a tenth of a second. Leclerc then jumped into second place, just under a tenth of a second behind his team mate.

Rather than pitting, the Red Bulls and the Ferraris both remained on circuit for multiple cool-down laps before their next timed runs. However, Vettel brought out the yellow flags briefly when he locked up under braking for turn 15, sliding head-on into the barriers at low speed. He was able to reverse his Aston Martin out and continue on his way.

Once the track was cleared, Perez’s next flying lap saw him take fastest time, while Leclerc also improved to go second-fastest. The pace-setters were increasingly pushing the limits: Leclerc touched the wall on the entry to turn seven, then Verstappen kissed the barrier at the exit of the same corner.

Hamilton briefly brought out the yellow flags out of turn 12 as he tried to allow the McLarens of Norris and Ricciardo past, but had to give up and start his lap without a tow after being reminded of the maximum time requirement. Norris and Hamilton will be investigated after qualifying for driving unnecessarily slowly.

In the final minute, the drop zone consisted of Norris, Esteban Ocon, Ricciardo, Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas. The two McLarens had enough time for one final effort, but while Ricciardo improved, he only gained one position and moved to 12th. Norris was then the only driver able to improve and appeared to be on a faster time, but a mistake at turn 16 put paid to his chances of progressing and he abandoned his final run.

The two McLarens were therefore eliminated in 11th and 12th, with Ocon also out in 13th. The two Alfa Romeos were the final cars knocked out, with Zhou out-qualifying team mate Bottas.

Q2 result

PositionNumberDriverTeamModelTimeGapLaps
111Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’41.95512
216Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’42.0460.09113
355Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’42.0880.13313
41Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’42.2270.27213
510Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’43.1291.17417
644Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’43.1821.22716
75Sebastian VettelAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’43.2681.31314
863George RussellMercedesW131’43.2811.32617
914Fernando AlonsoAlpine-RenaultA5221’43.3601.40514
1022Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’43.3761.42116
114Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’43.3981.44316
123Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’43.5741.61917
1331Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5221’43.5851.63013
1424Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’43.7901.83513
1577Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’44.4442.48913

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Q3

The final part of qualifying began with Alonso leading Pierre Gasly out of the pit lane with the two Mercedes of Hamilton and Russell running in tandem behind. Yuki Tsunoda was left on his own, before the two Ferraris and two Red Bulls were both paired up around the six-kilometre course.

Sainz was the first of the front runners to cross the line, his team mate following eight seconds behind, with Perez leading Verstappen over the line. Sainz’s first effort was good enough to see him take provisional pole ahead his team mate by just under half a tenth. But the Red Bulls were unable to beat Sainz’s time, Perez moving to provisional third place after clipping the barrier at turn five, just ahead of Verstappen.

Gasly’s first lap was good enough to see him into fifth position, while the two Mercedes of Russell and Hamilton were split by Vettel’s Aston Martin, Russell having benefitted from being the second of the Mercedes in the running order.

In the closing minutes, Ferrari were the first out once more, with Sainz again ahead of Leclerc, only with Gasly in between. Verstappen was sent out ahead of Perez, after the second Red Bull was fired up late due to a refuelling problem.

Sainz’s second effort was ruined at turn two when he brushed the wall on the exit, later abandoning his lap. That left the door for pole wide open for Leclerc and he took full advantage, jumping to the top spot by almost half a second.

It was all down to Red Bull to deny Leclerc his fourth consecutive pole position. Verstappen could not, jumping by Sainz into second place over three tenths slower than Leclerc. Perez’s final effort was better than his team mate’s, but still almost three tenths off Leclerc’s best time.

Leclerc therefore claimed pole position to take his fifth pole of the season. Perez will start alongside him on the front row, with Verstappen behind in third and Sainz starting from fourth. Russell will start from fifth, ahead of Gasly and Hamilton, unless the latter is penalised for the Norris incident. Tsunoda will line up eighth, with Vettel and Alonso rounding out the top ten.

Q3 result

PositionNumberDriverTeamModelTimeGapLaps
116Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’41.35919
211Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’41.6410.28218
31Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’41.7060.34719
455Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’41.8140.45519
563George RussellMercedesW131’42.7121.35323
610Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’42.8451.48623
744Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’42.9241.56522
822Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’43.0561.69722
95Sebastian VettelAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’43.0911.73218
1014Fernando AlonsoAlpine-RenaultA5221’43.1731.81420

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2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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38 comments on “Leclerc beats Perez to Baku pole, Hamilton under investigation”

  1. That is how you finish a lap on a street circuit when you push the tyres to the limit. Smart not to slide like Raikkonen in 2018 at the final corner.

    1. Leclerc has an impressive talent for nailing those final Q3 laps, whereas Sainz has a bit of an unfortunate habit of messing them up. Like Palmer said in the commentary, on quite a few occasions this year Sainz has had the fastest first Q3 run – only to end up outside the front row.

      Hopefully Sainz can make up a place at the start to prevent a 2-vs-1 strategy by Red Bull against Leclerc.

      1. His pace will be the most important thing… The red bulls didnt have that much of a problem with strategy in monaco when they were 3-4!

  2. Albon was slightly hypocritical in complaining about Alonso, considering what he did to Leclerc two weeks ago.
    Alonso, of course, didn’t pull anything purposeful, so pointless accusation.
    Good qualifying for ATs.
    Leclerc’s last flyer was something else, while Checo out-qualifying Max was unsurprising this time.

    1. Slightly is an understatement. Albon’s immediate assumption that it was a deliberate scheme was also a bit odd.

      1. Speaking as a big Alonso fan, I thought Fernando was totally gaming the system and pulling a fake Rosberg at Monaco. The problem is the system is allowing it, and instead investigating Hamilton for legitimately keeping within his delta time, and pushing the gaming of the system to the limit.

        F1 needs to consider adopting Indycar’s rules that apply laptime cancellation penalties for drivers causing yellows and reds during qualifying, especially at street circuits. As Albon said, it’s getting ridiculous, now race after race, honest mistake or otherwise.

        But it’s been pretty clear for a long time that nobody in F1 watches Indycar, as they aren’t learning lessons from what is on the whole a much more entertaining, fair and interesting formula. Marshalling, medical, environmental, tyres, handling, great push to pass racing, and well though through rules. In contrast, F1 is faster, with better WWF politics and posher tech. Sure, I’ll watch both, but I know which one I much prefer.

      2. It’s not odd when you consider the cheating cheater’s history.

        1. I luv chicken
          11th June 2022, 20:33

          Schumacher ain’t racin’, no more.

          1. He’s most likely talking about crashgate or the hungary 2007 accident.

    2. I have been saying this all year. Some cars only go out for the last run of q1 to fill the track, mess up other laps. They don’t go out on new tyres.

  3. Very enjoyable qualifying, these 2022 cars seem trickier to handle at circuits like these, and even tiny-looking mistakes are having large and visible consequences.

    Disappointed for Sainz but this highlights the crucial difference between him and Leclerc still. And great to see Perez doing so well!

  4. Lecler without question is the fastest driver of his generation.
    Natural king of qualifying did it again in style.
    This should be a RBR track but Lecler did not let it go to the rival team.

    1. Fastest driver of his generous of course is very debatable and can depend on the day. As to it being an RBR track, it might be yet. They’re 9 kph faster at the speed trap. If they prevail tomorrow it wouldn’t be the first time this season that Ferrari had the one-lap pace but not necessarily the race winning pace. Going to be a blast as usual to see tomorrow.

    2. I would limit this statement to quali, leclerc is much more specialised in quali than verstappen, then I think both are equally strong in the race. I also was surprised to see leclerc put it on pole, I felt like red bull was stronger.

  5. That was a monster lap by Leclerc. Surprised by Perez taking the fight to Verstappen.

    1. I’m not. He’s having the best go of it he has had in his F1 career and that coincides with support from a top team in a top car and this time he is not in his rookie year with them. It’s great to see. It shows how handcuffed a driver can be when the car and the support just isn’t there. He’s obviously had the talent all along.

      1. Davethechicken
        12th June 2022, 9:15

        Perez is the consummate F1 journeyman. He is fast but not unusually so. A solid driver. I don’t think anyone seriously believes he is there to be anymore than a support driver. Has he ever been allowed by RBR to finish the place directly ahead of Max, ever? Nor will he ever be. If they are running Perez P1 and Max P2, today, they will be switched, either obvious radio order or by strategy.

  6. Checo! Checo! Checo!! 💪👊

  7. Cheater be cheatín’.

  8. It seems Perez had always been top team material stuck in the midfield too long. Glad to see him doing so well at RB. Can’t wait for the race tomorrow.

    1. I’m soooooo surprised if perez is indeed an overlooked top driver, he’s been driving in the midfield for so long indeed.

    2. Davethechicken
      12th June 2022, 9:19

      Perez is a journeyman. He isn’t even in the top 10 best drivers in F1 now. If you objectively scrutinise Max’s record against previous team mates, you may be in for a shock. DR and CS are not comparing as well against their current teammates as they did against Mr Verstappen.

  9. Checo beat max without a tow….

  10. No further action for Hamilton’s investigation. He admitted he slowed to let the Mclarens last as he wanted the tow but he slowed at a safe point and drove the lap within the delta time so no penalty.

  11. Another typically great Q3 performance from Leclerc, but the real test for Ferrari has been converting that to a win on Sunday.

    1. That’s true, and leclerc has been pretty unlucky lately, should’ve absolutely won spain and monaco performance wise, but had reliability + strategy problems.

  12. IfImnotverymuchmistaken
    11th June 2022, 18:52

    If not for the DRS, this could be a very, very interesting race with F fastest overall and RB faster on the straights.
    Unfortunately, I can see no way Lec keeps Per or Ver behind, it will be two very easy, very uneventful passes with no chance of defending.
    The only unknown is will Per win or will RB engineer a strategy where Ver wins.
    Most I can hope for is RB lets them race each other for the win.

    1. Right, the only way Max can win is if it is engineered? Because yeah he’s never actually shown race pace before eh.

      1. If Pérez and Verstappen both edge past Leclerc – which wouldn’t be that unexpected given the pattern of how races play out this year – then it’s going to be tough for Verstappen to actually win. Pérez has been on point all weekend, he’s traditionally strong at Baku, is generally known for having solid tyre management skills, and Verstappen won’t have a straightline speed advantage over another Red Bull like he has over the Ferrari’s.

        Of course Red Bull has already shown they’re more than happy to tell Pérez to move over, and Pérez has demonstrated that he will do as told, but if Red Bull actually lets their drivers race then Pérez should be able to hold off Verstappen.

        1. My money is on Max as the better driver but I’m thrilled for SP too. Going to be a blast to watch.

        2. If it ends up being a competition between the 2 red bull drivers this race I’m convinced they will let them race.

        3. Or let them hold station if risk is too great (right here in 2018), doubt they’d make perez give up a win he earned.

  13. Leclerc is a qualifying beast! Can’t wait to see how his team manages things against the two Redbulls. A one two for RB is what I expect.

  14. This is great, two cars infront of wdc leader.

    Leclerc has done it so many times now, one can assume it was just his usual level of performance.

    Perez now for the first time in years, that Max teammate looks faster in all conditions, Monaco, now here, car really suits him and he is getting the job done.

    Sad Seinz is not in the mix..

    But we shall see tomorrow.

    1. @jureo I predict a Max win but no order needed.

  15. I do hope we get to hear RB tell Checo to let Max by because Max is faster. Max is so fast he keeps ending up behind Checo. Funny.

  16. What a fantastic final run by Charlie! The Red Bulls and Ferraris were neck and neck all through qualy. I didn’t expect there to be more than a tenth in it. Charles really hooked it up when it mattered. What a privilege to see!

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