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F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE: Race build-up, Leclerc starts on pole, Hamilton and Verstappen behind – latest updates

CHARLES LECLERC put his Monaco heartache behind him by claiming pole at the Azerbajan Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton will be on the front row of the grid with Max Verstappen third-fastest in qualifying.

Meanwhile, the Singapore Grand Prix has been AXED from the 2021 calendar due to Covid.

Get all the latest F1 updates from Baku here…

  • Joshua Jones

    GOOD MORNING F1 FANS

    Charles Leclerc is on pole position for today's Azerbaijan Grand Prix after yesterday’s fascinating qualifying session in Baku.

    There were FIVE crashes and a joint-record four red flags, as Lewis Hamilton profited from the smashes and stops to clinch an unlikely second-spot on the grid.

    The Brit, who had been struggling for pace all weekend and was only NINTH quickest on Friday night, pipped Red Bull's unhappy Dutchman, Max Verstappen, who will start in third in what promises to be an explosive race.

    Hamilton could not hide his delight at snatching second on the grid thanks to receiving a tow down the huge straight from his team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

    Hamilton also lucked-in after Carlos Sainz and Yuki Tsunoda both crashed late on to bring an early end to qualifying, scuppering Verstappen's flying lap.

    Hamilton said: "We definitely weren't expecting that and this is such a monumental result for us because we've been struggling like you couldn't believe all weekend.

    "We kept our composure. We've continued to have difficult discussions in the background and challenging one another, and just never taking no for an answer.

    "To be up there and so close to these guys is a great start. It has been the biggest challenge in a long time. It has been a bit of a disaster."

  • Anthony Chapman

    FER-WOW-RI

    Can Charles Leclerc drive to victory in Baku tomorrow?

    The Ferrari ace bagged pole in qualifying today.

    And he did it in dramatic style too!

  • Anthony Chapman

    BAKU BASH

    How about this for a crash?

    It was so intense it ended qualifying on Saturday!

  • Jake Lambourne

    VETTEL WOE

    Sebastian Vettel was not happy after just missing out on Q3.

  • Jake Lambourne

    LEW BEAUTY

    Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton has spoken of his delight at securing second on the grid.

    Hamilton said: “We definitely weren’t expecting that and this is such a monumental result for us because we’ve been struggling like you couldn’t believe all weekend. You can see it.

    “We kept our composure. We’ve continued to have difficult discussions in the background and challenging one another, and just never taking no for an answer. We’ve moved around, made so many changes, over these two days. Just chasing our tail and it’s been so difficult.

    “But the work overnight and particularly between the sessions was amazing from the team and really proud of everyone for keeping positive. To be up there and so close to these guys is a great start.

    “It has been the biggest challenge in a long time. It has been a bit of a disaster”

  • Jake Lambourne

    F1 STANDINGS

    Max Verstappen leads the F1 World Championship following his victory at Monaco last time out.

    The Red Bull driver sits for points ahead of Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.

    🏁F1 2021 calendar: practice times, dates and racetrack info

  • Jake Lambourne

    STARTING GRID

    This is how the starting grid looks for Sunday's Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

  • Jake Lambourne

    WAR OF WORDS

    Toto Wolff has blasted Christian Horner and called him "a windbag" as the two F1 bosses traded insults.

    Mercedes chief Wolff was responding to Horner's comments that Wolff should "keep his mouth shut" over their row over flexi-wings.

    Mercedes feel that Red Bull's rear wing breaches F1 rules while Red Bull believe the same accusation can be levelled at Merc's front wing.

    But while Horner appears to have taken it on the chin as his team currently lead the drivers' and constructors' championship, Wolff is not happy.

    He snapped: "Christian is a bit of a windbag who wants to be on camera. It is easy to be punchy when you are on top of the timesheets but you should be a little bit more modest."

    Red Bull's Max Verstappen joked: "They should sort it out in the ring! I am all for a ring in F1 instead of penalties!

    "But it is Formula One, everyone wants to win and everyone is competitive, so it is only natural and it is good for people to read!"

    Merc's Lewis Hamilton added: "They are the top leaders of the two teams and both contributed to success and they are going head to head in this battle."

  • Jake Lambourne

    LAND BEFORE TIME

    Lando Norris has been handed a three-place grid penalty for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

    He will now start in ninth after being penalised for failing to pit when the red flag was shown.

    Speaking before the decision was announced, Norris said: "I was in the middle, I was continuing my lap but then I didn’t really know at one point I could turn left or go right.

    "I slowed down straight away, I don’t feel like I was doing anything wrong. And I was going at quite a high speed, going into that pit at that time.

    “So I don’t know, I need to speak to the team, but I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong."

  • Kostas Lianos

    TON OF PRAISE

    Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton is very pleased with the result at the final practice.

    Hamilton took to Twitter after the race and praised his team for the overall effort.

    The British star tweeted the following:

  • Kostas Lianos

    LECLERC REACTS

    Ferrari star Charles Leclerc reacted to his second pole in a row.

    Leclerc said: "It was quite a s*** lap I thought! There were like two or three corners where I did mistakes, but of course I had the big tow from Lewis in the last sector which helped me a little bit.

    "But overall I think we would have been there or thereabouts for pole without the slipstream, so it's a good day.

    "I did not expect to be as competitive as we were today. I was improving again [before] the red flag but it's like this, another pole, and I'm happy anyway"

    GETTY IMAGES
  • Ben Hunt

    THE GRID FOR THE RACE

    1 Leclerc; 2 Hamilton; 3 Verstappen; 4 Gasly; 5 Sainz; 6 Norris; 7 Perez; 8 Tsunoda; 9 Alonso; 10 Bottas

  • Ben Hunt

    HUGE DRAMA – RED FLAG – SESSION STOPPED

    Leclerc is on pole as Sainz and Tsunoda crash out on track.

    It is Turn 15 again. Tsunoda loses it and then Sainz slams into the barriers

    Wow. That's the fourth red flag in qualifying.

    Hamilton will line up in P2 and Verstappen in P3. Gasly in P4.

    Wow. Incredible stuff.

  • Ben Hunt

    STONKING LAP FROM GASLY

    The Frenchman goes into the top four with a mega lap.

  • Ben Hunt

    HAMILTON TAKES PROVISIONAL P2

    Bottas punches the hole in the air, as Hamilton sits in the slipstream and gets on the front row.

    His time is good enough for P2 behind Leclerc, who was 0.232 seconds quicker.

    Five minutes to go.

  • Ben Hunt

    FERRARI ARE FLYING

    The two boys in red are blasting their way around the track as Leclerc and Sainz set the early pace.

  • Ben Hunt

    Q3 IS GO – THE SHOOT OUT FOR TOP 10

    Is this going to be a Red Bull lockout? Or can Hamilton fight back?

  • Ben Hunt

    BIG BLOW FOR RICCIARDO

    It is just not clicking for him at McLaren just yet. Surely his luck has to change soon.

  • Ben Hunt

    RICCIARDO HAS CRASHED – RED FLAG – END OF Q2

    The McLaren man has locked up and crashed into Turn Three. He is out of qualifying.

    His accident means the session is red-flagged and means that Vettel and Ocon miss out on getting into Q3.

    Russell, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Ocon and Vettel are out in Q2. Vettel extremely disappointed to miss out.

  • Ben Hunt

    VERSTAPPEN LEADS PEREZ. HAMILTON IN P3

    It looks as though Hamilton has discovered some performance in his Mercedes. Less so for Bottas, who is in P9.

  • Ben Hunt

    FIVE MINUTES TO GO

    Russell, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Tsunoda and Ocon in the drop zone.

  • Ben Hunt

    HERE IS THE INCIDENT INVOLVING NORRIS

  • Ben Hunt

    BUSY TRACK – MISTAKES ARE COSTLY IN BAKU

    We have had two red flags already. The record for qualifying is four. We are halfway there.

  • Ben Hunt

    Q2 IS GO

    Can Mercedes make it into the top 10? They should do, but accidents could pay their part.

  • Ben Hunt

    Q1 IS DONE

    Stroll, Giovinnazi, Mazepin, Schumacher and Latifi are out at the first hurdle.

    Hamilton eventually tops the session, but it was a scrappy one. Norris also under investigation for missing the pitlane when the red flag was deployed.

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