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Baku F1 GP qualifying: Leclerc on pole ahead of Hamilton

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Baku (Azerbaijan), June 5 (IANS) Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc on Saturday claimed pole position ahead of world champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes in a turbulent qualifying session for Sunday’s Azerbaijan Formula One Grand Prix.

A fourth red flag on the afternoon, after crashes from Alpha Tauri’s Uki Tsunoda and Leclerc’s team-mate Carlos Sainz, ended the session just as Hamilton, championship leader Max Verstappen and others had started their final fast lap.

As a result, Leclerc led the way in 1 minute 41.218 seconds on the 6.003km Baku City street circuit, reports DPA.

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It was the ninth career pole for Leclerc who also topped qualifying two weeks ago in his native Monaco but then could not race owing a car problem.

Hamilton was a surprise second, .232 of a second behind, after Mercedes struggled for pace in Monaco and Baku practice.

Verstappen of Red Bull will start Sunday’s race from third on the grid, .345 off the pace and clearly not amused after what he named “a stupid qualifying”.

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Leclerc admitted to the big surprise that he was top again — with a little help from Hamilton.

“It was quite a s*** lap I thought!” Leclerc said. “There were 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.”

Verstappen moved four points ahead of seven-time champion Hamilton with his Monaco win, and Red Bull are also one clear of Mercedes in the constructors’ list.

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–IANS

akm/qma

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