Leclerc: I don't feel like Ferrari has stolen Baku F1 pole

Charles Leclerc does not feel like Ferrari has “stolen” 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix pole, as he believes he could have topped Baku Formula 1 qualifying even without the Q3 stoppage.

Leclerc: I don't feel like Ferrari has stolen Baku F1 pole

Leclerc claimed his second successive pole position in similarly bizarre circumstances to last month’s Monaco Grand Prix Q3, where he crashed during the final runs in that session.

This time in Azerbaijan, it was Yuki Tsunoda going into the barriers at Turn 3 – and Carlos Sainz Jr also going off and hitting the wall in the runoff beyond the 90-degree left at the end of sector one’s back straight – that stopped any drivers improving on their final flying laps in qualifying.

Just as in Monaco, Leclerc had led the way after the opening runs, which proved to be crucial given how the circumstances played out.

Speaking in the paddock after qualifying in his home city, Leclerc was feeling “quite shit” about the damage that would end up stopping him starting that race, whereas this time around he said he was “feeling much better”.

“Still not as good as I would feel on a normal pole position, because obviously there was the red flag at the end there,” he explained after Autosport asked him to compare the two post-qualifying situations.

“But, overall, I don’t feel like we’ve stolen this pole position.

“I feel like we had the pace to do pole position anyway on the second Q3 lap with everyone finishing their laps. [I’m] very happy with today.”

Leclerc benefitted from picking up a tow from Lewis Hamilton, who ended up qualifying second, as the Mercedes driver was completing a second preparation lap ahead of what would become his sole flying effort in Q3.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

When asked how pleased he was to catch Hamilton and get the tow, Leclerc replied: “Yeah, definitely.

“I mean, it looked positive anyway. I think without the tow we would have been thereabouts, but this helped us a little bit.

“I saw that Lewis was having a prep lap so I tried to anticipate a little bit, more or less, the gap that I would need for him to give me the tow when he would start his lap.

“And I got it right. A little bit of luck, a little bit of thinking behind it, but probably a bit more luck.”

After climbing from his SF21 in parc ferme once Q3 had been aborted, Leclerc called the lap that became the pole time “quite a shit” one because of errors he felt he had made.

Explaining what had happened, he said: “[In Turns] 4/5/6 I just got some snaps with the very high wind, and I just misjudged a little bit.

“[I] lost the rear in entry of Turn 4 and then Turn 6 and 7 the rear tyres were not in a good shape. But, yeah, at the end it was a decent lap anyway.”

Heading into Sunday’s race on a track where he won twice on the road in Formula 2 in 2017 (losing the sprint race win for a contentious yellow flag infringement and ending up second in the final results), Leclerc reckons “it’s going to be very difficult to keep the first place”.

He added: “Here in Baku it’s very easy to overtake, so yeah, it’s going to be tricky.”

shares
comments

Related video

Norris gets grid penalty for Baku F1 red flag infringement

Previous article

Norris gets grid penalty for Baku F1 red flag infringement

Next article

F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Start time, how to watch, & more

F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Start time, how to watch, & more
Load comments
The 'surprise' Mercedes time that puts F1's victory fight back on a knife-edge in France Plus

The 'surprise' Mercedes time that puts F1's victory fight back on a knife-edge in France

Red Bull led the way after the first two practice sessions for the 2021 French Grand Prix, but only just ahead of Mercedes. There was all the usual practice skulduggery complicating the performance picture, but one aspect seen at the world champion squad gave it a ‘surprise’ lift, as it looks to leave its street-circuit struggles firmly in the past

How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working Plus

How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working

After its worst campaign in 40 years, the famous Italian team had to bounce back in 2021 – and it appears to be delivering. Although it concedes the pole positions in Monaco and Baku paint a somewhat misleading picture of its competitiveness, the team is heading into the 2022 rules revamp on much stronger footing to go for wins again

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Plus

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021
The figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again in F1 2021 Plus

The figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again in F1 2021

OPINION: An interloper squad got amongst the title contenders during Formula 1’s street-circuit mini-break, where Red Bull left with the points lead in both championships. But, as the campaign heads back to purpose-built venues once again, how the drivers of the two top teams compare in one crucial area will be a major factor in deciding which squad stays in or retakes the top spot

Formula 1
Jun 16, 2021
Why Alfa's boss is ready for the task of securing a stronger F1 future Plus

Why Alfa's boss is ready for the task of securing a stronger F1 future

Two tenth places in recent races have lifted Alfa Romeo to the head of Formula 1's 'Class C' battle in 2021, but longer-term the Swiss-based squad has far loftier ambitions. With the new 2022 rules set to level out the playing field, team boss Frederic Vasseur has good reason to be optimistic, as he explained to Autosport in an exclusive interview

Formula 1
Jun 15, 2021
How Barnard’s revolutionary McLaren transformed F1 car construction Plus

How Barnard’s revolutionary McLaren transformed F1 car construction

The MP4/1 was pioneering by choice, but a McLaren by chance. STUART CODLING relates the tangled (carbonfibre) weaves which led to the creation of one of motor racing’s defining cars

Formula 1
Jun 15, 2021
Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool Plus

Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool

Windtunnel work forms the bedrock of aerodynamic development in Formula 1. But as PAT SYMONDS explains, advances in virtual research are signalling the end of these expensive and complicated relics

Formula 1
Jun 13, 2021
Why polarising Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour Plus

Why polarising Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour

The newspapers, naturally, lingered over Max Mosley’s tainted family history and niche sexual practices. But this is to trivialise the legacy of a big beast of motor racing politics. STUART CODLING weighs the life of a man whose work for safety on both road and track has saved hundreds of thousands of lives, but whose penchant for cruelty remains problematic and polarising

Formula 1
Jun 12, 2021