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Lewis Hamilton investigation as Charles Leclerc grabs Azerbaijan GP pole ahead of Sergio Perez

Lewis Hamilton investigation as Charles Leclerc grabs Azerbaijan GP pole ahead of Sergio Perez

F1 News

Lewis Hamilton investigation as Charles Leclerc grabs Azerbaijan GP pole ahead of Sergio Perez

Lewis Hamilton investigation as Charles Leclerc grabs Azerbaijan GP pole ahead of Sergio Perez

Charles Leclerc delivered a stunning qualifying lap to land pole position for Sunday's Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Going into the final lap of the top-10 shoot-out at the Baku City Circuit, less than two-tenths of a second separated the Ferrari pair of Carlos Sainz and Leclerc and the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

But it was Leclerc who delivered a perfect final lap to post a time of one minute 41.359secs, finishing three-tenths ahead of Perez, followed by Verstappen and Sainz.

It is Leclerc's fourth consecutive pole position, with the Monégasque failing to convert any of the previous three into victory.

As for Lewis Hamilton, he starts seventh but the seven-time F1 champion is under investigation for driving unnecessarily slowly during Q2.

Hamilton was far from happy with his W13, at one stage declaring it to be "bottoming a dangerous amount" during the top-10 shoot-out, and that the brake pedal was "soft" at the start of Q1.

Behind Sainz, George Russell emerged best of the rest ahead of AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly, with Yuki Tsunoda, Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso in his Alpine in eighth, ninth and 10th behind Hamilton.

Hamilton under investigation

Hamilton was on the bubble going into the final run in Q2 and complaining bitterly about the lack of pace in the car, at one point saying over the team radio: "I don't know what you expect me from sometimes."

The message came at a time when the FIA confirmed Hamilton would be investigated post-qualifying for 'driving unnecessarily slowly'.

With Hamilton in additional trouble of being eliminated, his saviour proved to be team-mate Russell who gave the older Briton a perfect tow on the former's final hot lap.

By the conclusion of the middle session, Hamilton had elevated himself into sixth, a tenth-of-a-second up on eighth-placed Russell.

Hamilton's lap eliminated McLaren's Lando Norris, who will start 11th ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, with the pair both held up on the 37-year-old's slow lap.

Alpine's Esteban Ocon starts 13th ahead of Alfa Romeo duo Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas, with the Chinese rookie out-qualifying the Finnish veteran for the first time this season.

Stroll crashes again in Baku

After suffering a heavy crash in last year's grand prix at this circuit, Lance Stroll again hit a barrier, sparking a red flag with two minutes and 30 seconds remaining in Q1.

Minutes earlier, Stroll had nudged his front wing into a barrier after locking up at turn seven, but seemingly without damage to the car.

On his next hot lap, the Canadian overcooked his exit out of the 90-degree turn two left-hander, resulting in him slamming his right-front tyre into a Tecpro wall, sending debris flying across the circuit.

Following a 10-minute delay, the resumption naturally sparked a stampede given the time required to complete an out lap before embarking on a push lap.

Norris was told by his race engineer Will Joseph to get his "elbows out" and "overtake cars" in order to make the line such was the nervousness on the pit wall, with the start-finish straight akin to a race lap than a qualifying lap as the clock counted down to zero.

Remarkably, all 14 cars that took part - Verstappen, Perez, Leclerc, Sainz, Vettel and Ocon the exceptions - managed to get in another lap, although Alonso locked up at turn 15 and was forced to take to the escape road.

The upshot saw Haas duo Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher knocked out in 16th and 20th, with Williams pair Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi, along with Stroll, sandwiched in between.

Albon, though, complained vociferously about Alonso for driving slowly throughout.

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