Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Baku City Circuit, 2023

Leclerc reveals “close call” on lap which delivered surprise pole position

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc reveals he came close to spoiling the lap which put him on pole position at the first corner.

The Ferrari driver ended Red Bull’s run of pole positions after a tight scrap with Max Verstappen. The pair produced an identical lap time with their first runs in Q3 before Leclerc eased ahead of his rival with his final effort.

However Leclerc admitted he nearly made a costly error at the first corner, where his team mate spun earlier in the session.

“I think in street circuits you always try and do one lap in Q3 pushing obviously more than any other laps before,” he explained. “But then for the last attempt, you just put everything in and see how it goes.

“So it was a close call in turn one, but overall it was quite a clean lap and again really happy with the lap.”

The Ferrari driver admitted he was “surprised” to take pole position following his tough start to the season. He arrived in Azerbaijan 10th in the championship having only taken points in one of the first three races.

“It’s really good, especially considering the beginning of the season I’ve had,” he said. “Obviously we haven’t had the greatest of beginnings, but it’s great to be back on pole.

“Honestly, I did not expect it. I think we came into the weekend thinking that it will already be a great result if we were in front of the Astons and Mercedes and we find ourselves in pole. So I’m really, really happy with that.”

However he admitted he doubts the Ferrari is likely to be competitive enough to challenge the Red Bulls in Sunday’s race.

“We need to see obviously tomorrow for the sprint race and for the race on Sunday as I think we are a little bit more on the back foot there. But anyway, a really good surprise and extremely happy with my lap.”

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2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Author information

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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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7 comments on “Leclerc reveals “close call” on lap which delivered surprise pole position”

  1. One lap wonder

  2. This lap was up there amongst the best quali laps I’ve ever seen. Lewis’ 2018 Singapore lap was the only one in recent history that was as spectacular.

  3. Now they’ve changed the sprint rules again, I have literally no idea what this actually means ha ha!

    1. Exactly. Since the race qualifying has happened, I guess this means the cars are in Parq Ferme. So does that mean no changes for sprint race qually or the sprint race itself?

      1. @Johns Yes, nothing new regarding parc ferme restrictions.

    2. @bip No further changes have happened to my knowledge.

  4. He didn’t seem to have any close call at T1, though.

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