Charles Leclerc, who trails Max Verstappen by nine points in the championship standings, bounced back from his Monaco misery a fortnight ago to blow away his rivals and take pole Baku.
World champion Verstappen lines up his Red Bull in third place, one spot ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz who was fastest after the first runs in Q3. George Russell out-qualified team-mate Hamilton for the fifth time this season.
He will start fifth tomorrow, two places ahead of Hamilton, who could drop further down the field if he is penalised for a qualifying misdemeanour of “driving unnecessarily slowly”.
The two McLaren cars failed to make it into the top ten, with Lando Norris 11th and Daniel Ricciardo 12th, while Lance Stroll’s crash in Q1 led to a red flag and he will start in 19th.
It’s now four poles in a row for Leclerc, who will be desperate to bounce back from disappointment on home soil in Monaco a fortnight ago when Ferrari made a number of strategic errors.
Teammate Carlos Sainz led the way in Baku after the initial runs in Q3 but Leclerc delivered when he needed to, almost three tenths clear of Sergio Perez, race winner in Monte Carlo, in second.
“It was not an ideal qualifying because at the end we had a problem with the engine and we couldn’t turn it on. So, I was basically on my own and that’s very powerful around here.
“Tiny mistakes but in generally just struggling a bit to find front to rear balance over one lap so not of course what I want but still as a team in second and third we have a good opportunity for tomorrow.
source: Evening Standard