Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Leclerc takes pole again ahead of Perez

It’s now four poles in a row for Leclerc, who will be desperate to bounce back from disappointment on home soil in Monaco a fortnight ago when Ferrari made a number of strategic errors.

Teammate Carlos Sainz led the way in Baku after the initial runs in Q3 but Leclerc delivered when he needed to, almost three tenths clear of Sergio Perez, race winner in Monte Carlo, in second.

Max Verstappen will start Sunday’s race in third, alongside Sainz in fourth who struggled with his final qualifying lap.

Leclerc was on pole last year in Baku too, though a disappointing Sunday saw him finish fourth and he will be keen for an improved showing this time.

“I am really excited for tomorrow,” Leclerc said.

“This one, obviously all pole positions feel good, but this one I didn’t expect it because especially in Q1 and Q2 I really struggled to see that we were faster but it came together in the last lap and I managed to do a good lap so I am extremely happy.”

George Russell once again got everything he could out of his Mercedes and will start fifth, with Pierre Gasly sixth and Lewis Hamilton in seventh.

Neither McLaren made it through to Q3, with Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo in 11th and 12th respectively, while Lance Stroll’s crash in Q1 resulted in a red flag and he will start 19th.

Hamilton could drop further down the field if he is penalised as stewards investigate him for “driving unnecessarily slowly”.

The Brit, who finished an eye-watering 1.6secs behind Leclerc and two tenths adrift of Russell, appeared to delay fellow countryman Lando Norris in the final minutes of Q2.

Norris’ race engineer Will Joseph said to his driver of Hamilton: “He is the lead car, he will get in trouble. Don’t let him play silly b******.”

Hamilton has been summoned to the stewards and faces a possible grid drop if he is found guilty of a rules breach.

Additional reporting by PA Sport.

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