Leclerc blames himself for throwing away Baku pole to Mercedes

leclerc blames himself for throwing away baku pole to mercedes - Leclerc blames himself for throwing away Baku pole to Mercedes

SABC News Valterri Bottas R - Leclerc blames himself for throwing away Baku pole to Mercedes

Valtteri Bottas snatched pole position for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Saturday (April 27) in an incident-packed qualifying session that saw Mercedes lock out the front row and Ferrari favourite Charles Leclerc crash out.

The Finn lapped the six-km Baku street circuit in one minute, 40.495 seconds, just 0.059 seconds faster than team mate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

Sebastian Vettel, the sole Ferrari driver chasing pole after Leclerc crashed out in the second phase of qualifying, will line up in third place after his fastest lap was 0.302 seconds off Bottas’s pace.

Hamilton’s second-fastest time gave Mercedes their third front-row lockout of the season, leaving the German marque well-placed to extend their streak of three straight one-two finishes in as many races.

Ferrari had started the session looking dominant after Leclerc had led every practice session.

However, the Monegasque — fired up after being ordered to move over for Vettel in China and denied a maiden Formula One win by engine trouble in Bahrain — hit the wall. He will still start ninth, however.

With the session running late after two lengthy red-flag delays, and with temperatures dropping and no slipstream, Vettel was unable to extract the lap time from his Ferrari.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, fastest in the second phase of qualifying, was fourth ahead of Racing Point’s Sergio Perez — the only driver to have stood on the Baku podium more than once.

Russian Daniil Kvyat was sixth for Toro Rosso ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi set the eighth-fastest time but the Italian will drop 10 places after being hit with an engine-related grid penalty. Team mate Kimi Raikkonen will therefore move up to eighth.

Robert Kubica brought out the first red flag, the Pole ploughing his Williams into the barriers at exactly the same spot as Leclerc in the opening phase.

That crash was the latest blow on a difficult weekend for struggling Williams with rookie George Russell striking a loose manhole cover in Friday practice and wrecking his car.

Several other drivers, including Vettel and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg clipped the barriers or had close escapes at the same turn eight.

Bottas was on course for victory in Baku last year when a blown tyre three laps from the end handed it to Hamilton instead.

No driver has won from pole so far this season while retired champion Nico Rosberg in 2016 is the only driver to have converted pole to victory in Baku.

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