Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Baku City Circuit, 2023

Leclerc relieved last-lap qualifying crash “doesn’t have any consequence”

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc was relieved his crash on the final lap of qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix sprint race did not cost him pole position.

The Ferrari driver had already set a time which provisionally put him on pole before his final run. While his rivals were unable to beat it, Leclerc slid into a barrier at turn five on his last attempt.

In F1’s new sprint qualifying format, drivers are required to use the medium tyre compound for the first two phases, then switch to softs. Leclerc said he found it tricky to get the best out of the soft tyre in SQ3 having not run it earlier in the session.

“With the soft it was a little bit tricky because you’re getting jittery and we haven’t driven on these tyres since yesterday,” he said. “It’s not a long time ago, but the conditions are very different so it was behaving much differently.”

Leclerc was one of the last drivers running on the circuit when he crashed. His team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr was among those lapping behind him, and Leclerc apologised to his team on the radio for potentially compromising the other car’s lap.

He explained how the car got away from him when he crashed. “The rear overheated on the second lap,” said Leclerc. “I tried to push a bit more to gain some lap time as I was behind my first best lap time and I lost it in turn five at the end.

“It doesn’t have any consequence on qualifying. I don’t know about Carlos behind me so it’s a shame if he was improving. But I’m very happy with the first lap and now we have to confirm that in the race.”

Despite taking his second pole position in as many days, Leclerc isn’t expecting Ferrari to have significantly reduced their deficit to Red Bull in terms of race pace. He will start both this weekend’s races with the two Red Bulls immediately behind him.

“We’ll go for it but we need also to be realistic,” he said. “Until now we have been on the back foot in the race, especially the Red Bull seems to be a step ahead. So let’s see how it is.

“Hopefully we have a good surprise, I think we improved the car quite a bit, but today we’ll have more of an answer in the race to see where we are compared to them.”

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2023 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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8 comments on “Leclerc relieved last-lap qualifying crash “doesn’t have any consequence””

  1. Astons were disappointing despite the DRS issue not hampering them anymore.
    Despite back-to-back poles, Leclerc will probably lose out also in the sprint due to Ferrari’s general race pace disadvantage.

    1. Horus Lupercal
      29th April 2023, 11:45

      There are so many areas on this track where you need the DRS open that it loses you massive amounts of time and beyond that, this was always going to be a hard track for them. They’re slow in the straights and this track is basically 90% huge straight aways connected by dinky little turns.

      Anyway, they can’t fix this for the main race they might as well start from the pit lane because they’ll just be sitting ducks on the straight/DRS zones and will finish near last place.

      Meanwhile, Leclerc’s nickname will soon be Lecrash. Guy is an error machine. No matter how fast you are, a WDC caliber driver should only be crashing once in a blue moon.

      1. I think this was a strategical mistake tbh, he brought out yellow flags and wasn’t improving his time, not the first time I’ve seen someone crash and benefit from it in q3.

  2. Charles Leclerc – maker of mistakes.

    Will he ever grow out of that?

    1. Well, Hamilton kinda did. Verstappen mostly has too.
      When they got dominant cars they didn’t have to push hard anymore, of course….

    2. When a mistake can stop the competition from improving? That’s a clever mistake.

      1. There was no competition behind him at that point, just Sainz who wasn’t improving anyway.
        Let’s not label Leclerc as that kind of driver just yet.

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