Max qualifies third in Baku: 'A stupid qualifying'
Published on 05 June 2021 by Kees-Jan Koster
Max Verstappen qualified third for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. In an eventful qualifying which was stopped no less than four times by a red flag, the field was close, and Max seemed to have good opportunities. In the final phase of Q3 a red flag because of the incidents of Yuki Tsunoda and Carlos Sainz caused that nobody could finish their final quick laps. Max had to settle for P3, with Charles Leclerc, taking his second pole position in a row, and Lewis Hamilton in second position.
After qualifying Max says: “It was a stupid qualifying with so many red flags, but it is what it is. We are in third position and have a good car. We made a good recovery from FP3 and everything was working fine. It is just unfortunate, but it is a street circuit, and those things can happen.”
Even though a frustrating end of qualifying, Max is confident for a good result of the race: “I would have liked to be further to the front, but everything is possible in the race. We have a strong car, so I hope we will be able to take care of the tyres in the race tomorrow and score many points. And as we saw in qualifying, a lot can happen, so maybe these things can happen again. Let’s hope we have a good start and then we will see. There are three different cars up front, so that is always good.”
Ahead of qualifying the Red Bull Racing mechanics were busy fixing the damage on the RB16B after Max’ crash in FP3. While Red Bull fixed Verstappen’s car in time, the Williams mechanics were still working on George Russell’s car at the start of qualifying.
There is a long row of cars at the end of the pitlane when the lights go green for the start of Q1. Max also comes out on track quickly on a set of soft tyres. Just when he starts on his first flying lap, Lance Stroll hits the barrier at turn fifteen. The Canadian has to stop his Aston Martin with a broken right front and the first red flag comes out.
After a delay of about ten minutes, the track is cleared. The Williams of George Russell is fixed and he can take part in qualifying. Max comes out again on a set of soft tyres. He sets the fastest time in his first flying lap (1:41.760) with teammate Sergio Perez in second position. Just after Max sets his time on the clocks, Antonio Giovinazzi crashes his Alfa Romeo, at the same place as Stroll, at turn fifteen. The Italian has to retire and there is again a red flag situation. At that time only ten drivers have set a time.
With nine minutes on the clock the lights go green again. Verstappen does come out, but does not improve his time. Only Lewis Hamilton is in his last flying lap faster than Max, who goes safely through to Q2. Drop outs after Q1 are: Nicholas Latifi (P16), Mick Schumacher (P17) and Nikita Mazepin (P18). The crashed Stroll and Giovinazzi will share the last row on the grid.
In the second session of qualifying everyone comes out on the soft tyres. Max sets in his first flying lap the fifth time, after which he improves his time in a second quick lap to 1:41.625. This puts him in first position, only five thousandths of a second faster than his teammate Perez in second position and nine thousandths of a second faster than Hamilton in P3. In the final phase of the session Daniel Ricciardo crashes his McLaren into the barrier at turn three. The Australian can step out of the car unharmed, but with only one and a half seconds on the clock, the second qualifying session is not restarted. Max finished first, while Sebastian Vettel (P11), Esteban Ocon (P12), Daniel Ricciardo (P13), Kimi Raikkonen (P14) and George Russel (P15) drop out of Q2.
In Q3 Max sets a 1:41.563 in his first flying lap, which is good for third position, three tenths behind Charles Leclerc in P1. A little later takes Hamilton second position from Max. All drivers come out for a final quick lap. Yuki Tsunoda and Carlos Sainz both crash independently in turn three, causing another red flag. Nobody can finish their laps and qualifying finishes. Charles Leclerc takes his second pole position in a row. Hamilton shares the first row on the grid with the Ferrari driver and Max qualifies third. Pierre Gasly finishes fourth, with Carlos Sainz in P5. Lando Norris finishes in P6, while Sergio Perez, Yuki Tsunoda, Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas complete the top ten.
Sunday 14:00 Dutch time the Azerbaijan Grand Prix will start.
|3||Max Verstappen||VER||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:41.760||1:41.625||1:41.563|
|4||Pierre Gasly||GAS||AlphaTauri Honda||1:42.288||1:41.932||1:41.565|
|6||Lando Norris||NOR||McLaren Mercedes||1:42.167||1:41.813||1:41.747|
|7||Sergio Perez||PER||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:41.968||1:41.630||1:41.917|
|8||Yuki Tsunoda||TSU||AlphaTauri Honda||1:42.521||1:41.654||1:42.211|
|9||Fernando Alonso||ALO||Alpine Renault||1:42.934||1:42.195||1:42.327|
|11||Sebastian Vettel||VET||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:42.460||1:42.224|
|12||Esteban Ocon||OCO||Alpine Renault||1:42.426||1:42.273|
|13||Daniel Ricciardo||RIC||McLaren Mercedes||1:42.304||1:42.558|
|14||Kimi Räikkönen||RAI||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:42.923||1:42.587|
|15||George Russell||RUS||Williams Mercedes||1:42.728||1:42.758|
|16||Nicholas Latifi||LAT||Williams Mercedes||1:43.128|
|17||Mick Schumacher||MSC||Haas Ferrari||1:44.158|
|18||Nikita Mazepin||MAZ||Haas Ferrari||1:44.238|
|0||Lance Stroll||STR||Aston Martin Mercedes||---|
|0||Antonio Giovinazzi||GIO||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||---|