After three Free Practice sessions, the drivers faced the qualifying session for the 2022 F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. A crucial session for everyone, since you have to attack on a very tricky circuit, and this determines the positions on the grid on an urban track.
The qualifying session was postponed to 4:15 p.m. French time after Free Practice 3 was also postponed by 15 minutes. Indeed, barrier repairs had taken place at turn 1 after an accident during the F2 Sprint Race.
The stakes are high between Ferrari and Red Bull, after Sergio Pérez and Charles Leclerc dominated all three free practice sessions, with the Mexican posting the fastest time in PR1 and PR3. Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz were behind, but not far from their respective teammates.
Behind, McLaren made progress in Free Practice 3, and the team looks set to play on par with Mercedes F1 and AlphaTauri, as well as Alpine, who showed up in practice.
Several thousand kilometers from Baku, the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans took place, and the Toyotas are ahead of the Glickenhaus after an agitated start for the Alpine. The first minutes of the race were contested in the various categories of the race.
Q1 – 18 mins
Lewis Hamilton worries about the traffic even before hitting the track, with all the drivers coming out of the pits at the same time. His engineer told him not to worry, and that Mercedes F1 kept its initial plan for this Q1.
Lando Norris set the first time in 1’45″061, but he was quickly beaten by Esteban Ocon in 1’44″297, while Levin Magnussen, Daniel Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso and Pierre Gasly came between the two men .
Pérez signed the benchmark for this start of the session in 1’43″198, beaten by Verstappen in 1’42″938. Sebastian Vettel slipped into fourth, and Yuki Tsunoda fifth, as the Ferraris were on their first timed lap of the session.
Leclerc was two tenths behind Verstappen and 0.027 behind Pérez, and Sainz set a time nine tenths behind the Dutchman. Lewis Hamilton entered the top 10, as did George Russell. of “erratic driving” of Verstappen, before setting the fourth fastest time.
Sainz improved by coming back to within 0.021 of Verstappen, and Leclerc beat both men in 1’42.865. Guanyu Zhou placed fifth, ‘best of the rest’. Vettel made a mistake but was able to get back on track immediately. Pérez improved in turn, taking the best time in 1’42″733. And Verstappen replied for 11 thousandths, in 1’42″722.
Hamilton moved up to eighth, just behind Ocon, and the yellow flag was raised in the second sector after Lance Stroll crashed. The Canadian was lucky as his car suffered no damage.
Vettel moved up to fifth just before the session was interrupted… following another accident for Stroll. This time it was for the count, with the front wing and half-axle ripped off.
There were 2:30 minutes left when the session was restarted, and some drivers feared not crossing the line for a fast lap. “Bend your elbows, overtake cars” we could hear in the radio of Lando Norris.
The Red Bull drivers, the Ferrari drivers, Vettel and Ocon had not come out for an attempt. The McLarens and Haas narrowly crossed the line, but they did not have the track clear for their fast lap.
Hamilton and Russell improved, as did Tsunoda and Gasly. Bottas took 15th place, narrowly qualifying for Q2. Alonso made a mistake and ran off the track into a loophole, which infuriated Albon. The Williams driver accused him of deliberately driving slowly and erratically during the out lap.
The eliminated are Magnussen, Albon, Latifi, Stroll and Schumacher.
Q2 – 15 mins
The Red Bull drivers went out first, and Pérez set a time of 1m42.258s, narrowly beaten by Verstappen in 1m42.227s. Gasly took third, ahead of Russell and Vettel, then Alonso, as the Ferraris were on a fast lap.
Sainz took the best time in 1’42″088, and Leclerc came in second less than a tenth behind his team-mate, having however made a mistake in turn 16. Hamilton was only placed 11th, between the McLaren and Ocon, which surrounded him.The Alfa Romeos had not yet taken to the track.
Vettel slammed into the wall in turn 15, causing a yellow flag only. The German was still qualified in seventh place and could join the pits. Pérez took the best time in 1’41 “955, and Leclerc moved up to second place.
Zhou and Bottas finally made their lap, but the Alfa Romeo drivers failed to do better than 14th and 15th. Hamilton was under investigation for driving too slowly on his out lap. The survey will take place after the session.
Leclerc and Verstappen grazed the wall with the left front wheel before Turn 7, and Verstappen was worried he had done some damage.
Tsunoda made a mistake on his fast lap, causing a yellow flag that didn’t last long. Hamilton improved to sixth, and Russell to eighth. Gasly aborted his attempt, while Norris made a mistake, and Ricciardo only remained in 12th place. The Q2 was fatal to Alfa Romeo and McLaren.
The drivers eliminated were Norris, Ricciardo, Ocon, Zhou and Bottas.
Q3 – 12 minutes
Just after the end of Q2, the 24 Hours of Le Mans has completed its first hour, and the battle rages between the Toyotas in the lead. The battles are fought at all levels after 60 minutes of racing, within the Hypercar category, but also behind.
On the Baku side, Q3 started with the two Red Bulls, the two Ferraris, the two AlphaTauris, the two Mercedes, Alonso and Vettel.
Gasly was the first to set a time of 1’42.845. He beat the Mercedes of Russell and Hamilton, who failed by 1 and 5 tenths respectively. Alonso and Tsunoda placed themselves behind the Mercedes duo, while the top team drivers were improving.
Sainz set the best time in 1’41″814, ahead of Leclerc in 1’41″861. The gaps were very tight as Pérez failed in third place 0.126 behind Leclerc, while Verstappen took provisional fourth place 0.175 behind Sainz. Vettel took seventh place.
Replays show that Leclerc lost a few thousandths in a swerve of the rear axle of his Ferrari, while Pérez hit the wall on the inside of turn 5. The drivers were playing within a few thousandths of the acceptable limit.
Hamilton suffered from porpoising, and even said on the radio it was “to a dangerous degree”. The Briton’s eighth fastest time was understandable. At Red Bull, Verstappen asked the team to send him to the track, but his car had a small problem. However, he managed to get out.
The drivers didn’t want to risk traffic jams or have a lap wasted, and Sainz crossed the line 2 minutes from the end of the session to start his time. The Spanish driver brushed the wall in turn 2 and was late after the first sector.
Leclerc set the best time in 1’41″359, almost half a second behind his teammate. Verstappen improved and was second by three tenths… but Pérez took second place from his teammate. The gap between Leclerc and the Mexican was 0.282.
Leclerc and Pérez will therefore be on the front line tomorrow ahead of Verstappen and Sainz, who is paying dearly for his missed second lap. Russell and Gasly will be in the third row, ahead of Hamilton and Tsunoda, then Vettel and Alonso.
|pos.||Pilot||Car||Q1 time||Q2 time||Q3 time|
|01||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari F1-75||1:42.865||1:42.046||1:41.359|
|02||Sergio Perez||Red Bull RBPT RB18||1:42.733||1:41.955||1:41.641|
|03||Max Verstappen||Red Bull RBPT RB18||1:42.722||1:42.227||1:41.706|
|04||carlos sainz||Ferrari F1-75||1:42.957||1:42.088||1:41.814|
|05||george russell||Mercedes W13||1:43.754||1:43.281||1:42.712|
|06||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri RBPT AT03||1:43.268||1:43.129||1:42.845|
|07||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes W13||1:43.939||1:43.182||1:42.924|
|08||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri RBPT AT03||1:44.418||1:43.376||1:43.056|
|08||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22||1:43.279||1:43.268||1:43.091|
|10||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault A522||1:44.083||1:43.360||1:43.173|
|11||Lando Norris||McLaren Mercedes MCL36||1:44.237||1:43.398|
|12||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren Mercedes MCL36||1:44.437||1:43.574|
|13||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault A522||1:43.903||1:43.585|
|14||Guanyu-Zhou||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42||1:43.777||1:43.790|
|15||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42||1:44.478||1:44.444|
|16||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari VF-22||1:44.643|
|17||Alex Albon||Williams Mercedes FW44||1:44.719|
|18||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes FW44||1:45.367|
|19||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22||1:45.371|
|20||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari VF-22||1:45.775|