Max third after sprint shootout in Baku: 'I am not worried'
Published on 29 April 2023 by Kees-Jan Koster
Max Verstappen qualified during the very first sprint shootout in Baku in third position. Charles Leclerc, who came over the finish line in a damaged Ferrari, took just like yesterday pole position. Max’ teammate at Oracle Red Bull Racing, Sergio Perez, will start from second on the grid for the sprint later today. George Russell and Carlos Sainz completed the top five at the Baku City Circuit.
Everything was going quite well”, says Max afterwards. “The pace was good. But in SQ3, during the first run on the softs, I had a big moment at turn five and six. The tyres were really hot, and I had another moment at turn seven. So in the peak lap with the most grip, we had a terrible sector two. That was not fantastic. But it explains the gap to Ferrari.”
Max was able to do another quick lap. Max: “Not a lot of people were able to do that. The pace was good, just a bit unfortunate to be in P3. With this heat and how the tyres are behaving it is not going to be a straightforward sprint. A bit of tyre management will come into play. I am not worried. So, all to fight for.”
Azerbaijan hosts the very first sprint shootout in the history of Formula 1. A total of six sprint weekends will follow this season. In this sprint shootout the drivers qualify for the sprint race later today. The sprint shootouts are very similar to the regular qualifying sessions. There are some differences however. SQ1, 2 and 3 are twelve, ten and eight minutes respectively. In SQ1 and 2 the drivers are all on the new medium tyres, while SQ3 is on a new set of soft tyres.
At the start of this very first sprint shootout, it is 24 degrees at the Baku City Circuit. All twenty drivers come out quickly on the streets of the capital city of Azerbaijan. It does not take long before we see the first yellow flag: Oscar Piastri goes straight on in turn three and causes a short lived yellow in sector one. The Australian can continue. The first time of Max Verstappen is 1:43.563. Charles Leclerc is almost two tenths quicker than the Dutchman.
Nyck de Vries also goes straight on in turn three, where he parked his AlphaTauri in the wall yesterday. This time he can continue without damage. Verstappen takes the lead with a 1:43.288, but soon Leclerc takes back first position when going almost half a second quicker. With half a minute to go the red flag is waved. Logan Sargeant went hard into the wall at turn fifteen. The session is not resumed. The result is that Nyck de Vries, Pierre Gasly, Yuki Tsunoda, Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu will not continue the sprint shootout. Logan Sargeant is also unable to continue because of the damage to his car. Leclerc, Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton form the top three in SQ1.
Verstappen opens SQ2 with a 1:42.417. Nico Hülkenberg causes a yellow in sector two. He goes straight on in turn seven and can only just stay out of the wall. This mistake does cause other drivers having to abort their quick laps. Meanwhile, Max has returned to the pits. Sainz goes straight on in turn fifteen but can continue without damage. When the clock gets to zero, Verstappen finishes the session as fastest, followed by Leclerc and Sainz. The drop outs are: Sargeant, Kevin Magnussen, Esteban Ocon, Hülkenberg and Piastri.
Lando Norris went through to SQ3 but cannot continue. The rules state that a new set of soft tyres is mandatory in this final session of the sprint shootout. The Brit has no more soft tyres left as he used his last set during the regular qualifying. So SQ3 starts with only nine drivers. Perez and Verstappen are the first to come out on track. Perez sets the first time, a 1:41.876, Verstappen is almost three tenths slower. The Dutchman reports that he lost the rear in the middle sector. Leclerc goes two tenths faster than Perez and takes over the lead.
When the time is up Leclerc goes into the wall. This causes a short yellow in the first sector. This causes that his teammate Sainz cannot finish his final fast lap. Leclerc lost his front wing but can continue back to the pits. Perez improves his time but stays in second position. Verstappen also sets a faster time, but he stays in P3. Despite making a mistake, the Monegasque sets the fastest time in this sprint shootout. Perez takes P2, and Russell will start from P4. Sainz completes the top five.
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Results sprint shootout Azerbaijan:
|2||Sergio Perez||PER||Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT||1:43.858||1:42.925||1:41.844|
|3||Max Verstappen||VER||Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT||1:43.288||1:42.417||1:41.987|
|7||Alexander Albon||ALB||Williams Mercedes||1:43.987||1:43.376||1:42.846|
|8||Fernando Alonso||ALO||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:43.789||1:42.976||1:43.010|
|9||Lance Stroll||STR||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:43.879||1:43.375||1:43.064|
|10||Lando Norris||NOR||McLaren Mercedes||1:43.938||1:43.395|
|11||Oscar Piastri||PIA||McLaren Mercedes||1:44.179||1:43.427|
|12||Nico Hulkenberg||HUL||Haas Ferrari||1:44.843||1:43.806|
|13||Esteban Ocon||OCO||Alpine Renault||1:44.433||1:44.088|
|14||Kevin Magnussen||MAG||Haas Ferrari||1:44.101||1:44.332|
|15||Logan Sargeant||SAR||Williams Mercedes||1:44.042|
|16||Zhou Guanyu||ZHO||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:45.177|
|17||Valtteri Bottas||BOT||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:45.352|
|18||Yuki Tsunoda||TSU||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT||1:45.436|
|19||Pierre Gasly||GAS||Alpine Renault||1:46.951|
|20||Nyck De Vries||DEV||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT||1:48.180|