Ferrari surprised to be quickest for the second weekend running

Lap time watch: 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Azerbaijan Grand Prix pole-winner Charles Leclerc admitted he did not expect Ferrari to lead the way at the Baku City Circuit as they did in Monaco two weeks earlier.

Ferrari’s form around the very slow Monaco circuit was widely expected given their slow-corner performance. While Baku also features many slow turns, its long straights were expected to favour Ferrari’s rivals.

But the SF-21s were quick on Friday and backed that up in qualifying. Leclerc’s surprise pole position may have owed something to the fact everyone had to abandon their final runs due to crashes (again), but he had genuine pace and felt he could have improved on his second effort even without a tow.

“The complete explanation I don’t have it,” he admitted after qualifying, “but for sure it’s the result of the guys back at the factory, also the guys here at the track who have been working extremely hard since the beginning of 2020 when we obviously started the season and it was very difficult.

“We kept working and the car just got better and better. It’s small steps all the time but small steps in the right direction and this is not always a given so this makes us competitive.”

Leclerc said Ferrari “did not expect to be as competitive as we were this weekend until now, so this is a bit of a surprise, but we’ve been also working very, very hard for that.”

AlphaTauri returned to their round-one high of being the fourth-quickest team in terms of outright pace. There was just two-thousandths of a second between Pierre Gasly in fourth on the grid and Max Verstappen ahead of him. Though after heading both Friday practice sessions, the Red Bull drivers know they could be further up the grid for tomorrow’s race.

Remarkably, having set the pace in the season-opening race in Bahrain, Red Bull haven’t done so again in any of the five races since.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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6 comments on “Ferrari surprised to be quickest for the second weekend running”

  1. Position of Carlos saint way pole of Leclerc is not only luck.

  2. They are a bit like Alpine, strong in quali but less so in long runs. So the good start is there for Ferrari. Now the challenge is to not let the car eat the tyres during the race

  3. That graph must hurt like hell for Haas.

  4. Think we’re all a bit surprised.

    It’s easy to say they were great in Monaco so Baku, another street circuit should suit them, but it wasn’t expected to translate here given the long straights and slightly higher speed nature of the end of sector 2 and all of 3.

    Their race pace in practice wasn’t good, but it might not matter so much if they can stay ahead and control the race.

    1. Indeed, they seem to be good on street tracks, but wasn’t expected cause baku is a lot faster track than monaco and ferrari this year is better on low speed corners than straights; this speed might also have to do with the softer tyres they bring here, or they could simply have found more pace, either way it’s good to have a 3rd competitive team.

  5. For pole Ferrari was supported by a red flag situation twice. Hope they are back but what I read they don’t think they have a remote chance against RB and Merc at the moment.

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