Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE: Charles Leclerc faces Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battle | F1 | Sport

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Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE: Charles Leclerc faces Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battle

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE: Charles Leclerc faces Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battle (Image: GETTY)

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE

Charles Leclerc starts on pole for Ferrari in Baku
– Ferrari haven’t won a Formula One race since the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix
MercedesLewis Hamilton starts second, Red Bull‘s Max Verstappen third
Lando Norris ninth for McLaren after three-place grid penalty
– Azerbaijan Grand Prix gets underway at 1pm UK time

12.35pm: Lewis Hamilton, after ending up P2, hailed Mercedes’ remarkable turnaround in qualifying after a miserable Friday which saw them stuck outside of the top 10.

“We definitely weren’t expecting that,” the seven-time world champion admitted. “This is such a monumental result for us because we’ve been struggling like you couldn’t believe all weekend. You can see it.

“We kept our composure. We’ve continued to have difficult discussions in the background and challenging one another, and just never taking no for an answer.

“We’ve moved around, made so many changes, over these two days. Just chasing our tail and it’s been so difficult.”

He added of today’s race: “For us to turn it around and to be in the top three competing so closely with the Red Bulls and the Ferraris, who have been just destroying everyone last weekend and this weekend, is just [great to be] in the fight.

“We have got a race tomorrow and we are in a position to get some good points. I’m just excited.”

12.20pm: There were four red flags in a hectic qualifying session and Alpine’s Fernando Alonso has urged his Formula One rivals to “calm down a little bit”.

“I think the people need to calm down a little bit and drive 98 per cent in a street circuit because if you crash and you start last in the race, maybe you don’t drive over your possibilities,” the two-time world champion told Sky Sports F1.

“Today we saw many people driving over the possibilities of their car or their abilities.”

The Spaniard starts eighth in Baku today and said: “We have a good car; it has been good all weekend. We have always been in the top 10 in every session and we felt comfortable.

“Here you can overtake if you have the pace, so we need to take care of the tyres – that will be the hot topic for the race, I guess – but we are reasonably confident to take good points.”

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE: Charles Leclerc faces Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battle

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE: Charles Leclerc faces Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battle (Image: GETTY)

12.05pm: As a result of Norris’ three-place grid penalty, the top 10 for today’s race start is as follows…

1) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
2) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
3) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
4) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
5) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
6) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
7) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
8) Fernando Alonso, Alpine
9) Lando Norris, McLaren
10) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE: Charles Leclerc faces Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battle

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE: Charles Leclerc faces Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battle (Image: GETTY)

12pm: Further down the grid, Lando Norris will start ninth for McLaren, having been pushed down three spots because of a red-flag infringement.

The Briton did not pit at the first opportunity during a red flag as is mandatory, although his punishment has been reduced from the usual five-place penalty.

The stewards said: “During the hearing the driver admitted that he lifted the throttle, braked and was committed to and able to enter the pitlane.

“At that moment he was not sure what to do and asked his team over the radio. Although the team ordered him immediately to enter the pits, it was too late and NOR crossed the finish line one more time.

“The stewards assume that if a red flag is not respected during qualifying, a drop of 5 grid positions is appropriate.

“However, if you consider that the driver only had a very short time to react due to his position on the track, a drop of three grid positions is sufficient as an exception.”

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE: Charles Leclerc faces Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battle

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE: Charles Leclerc faces Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battle (Image: GETTY)

11.45pm: Good afternoon and welcome to Express Sport’s live coverage of the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix!

Charles Leclerc starts on pole for Ferrari having been denied the chance to front the pack in Monaco a fortnight ago by a pre-race mechanical issue.

The Monegasque, bidding to secure the Prancing Horse’s first race win in two years, is joined by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton on the front row after Q3 was cut short by a red flag yesterday.

Yuki Tsunoda in the AlphaTauri crashed at Turn 3 and was followed by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz who locked up and went into the run-off area just seconds later as the session came to a premature end.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, the Drivers’ Championship leader, was denied the chance to beat his time and starts third with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly fourth.



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