Carlos Sainz will start fourth on Sunday and Fernando Alonso, sixth


The Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) has signed the pole for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix race, fourth round of the Formula 1 World Cup, in a new qualifying session on Friday in which the Spanish Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) and Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) have secured fourth and sixth starting positions for Sunday, respectively.

With his spectacular performance in Baku, where he set an incredible 1:40.203 that earned him a tenth advantage over Dutchman Max Verstappen (Red Bull), Leclerc achieved his third consecutive pole position on the Azeri urban track and Ferrari’s first in 2023, all after a hard fight with ‘Mad Max’, who will accompany him in the front row.

Meanwhile, the Mexican Sergio ‘Checo’ Pérez (Red Bull) will command the second row of the grid together with Sainz, who went from less to more on a Friday in which Alonso, who came to settle in the ‘top 3’ in the first runs, he could only finally be sixth to share a row with the British Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), fifth.

With the drivers starting on the soft tyre, the fight began in Baku with Verstappen early setting the first great benchmark time, two tenths faster than Leclerc. As Alonso moved up to third and Sainz prepared for his second attempt, Dutchman Nyck de Vries (AlphaTauri) crashed into the wall at turn 3 and the red flag waved on the track.

Everything resumed a quarter of an hour later, but the action stopped again a couple of minutes later, when the Frenchman Pierre Gasly (Alpine), who had previously changed the power unit, also hit the wall in the same corner that DeVries. Meanwhile, Sainz’s spin in 1 came to nothing.

After the break, Leclerc surpassed the ‘Mad Max’ time to say goodbye to Q1 at the top, in which Alonso remained third and the man from Madrid ninth. The Chinese Guanyu Zhou (Alfa Romeo), the German Nico Hulkenberg (Haas), the Danish Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Gasly and De Vries were eliminated.

The Spaniard opened Q2 by provisionally putting himself first, although the Red Bulls soon took over. Meanwhile, Sainz showed problems with his wheels when he allowed his teammate to pass on the track, who still had time to slip between the two cars of the energetic brand team.

Sainz and Alonso closed the ‘top 5’ before the final round, in which Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) narrowly missed and from which George Russell (Mercedes) fell against all odds.

The tension grew even more in an incredible Q3; Verstappen’s first attempt led to the fastest qualifying lap time in Baku, a 1:40.445 which, just seconds later, was nailed by Leclerc. The fact of having achieved it before gave the provisional pole position to the Dutchman.

However, the Monegasque threw in the rest and pulled off a brutal 1:40.203 that earned him his third pole position in a row at the Azeri Grand Prix. Verstappen, Pérez, Sainz, Hamilton, Alonso, British Lando Norris (McLaren), Japanese Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri), Canadian Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) and Australian Oscar Piastri (McLaren) completed the ‘Top 10’.