- Live updates as Hamilton looks reclaim championship lead
- Saturday: Leclerc pips Hamilton to dramatic pole
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And how about some pre-race reading? Our report from yesterday’s chaotic qualifying session:
How they stand:
Lando Norris reckons his three-place grid penalty, for failing to pit immediately after a red flag, is unfair. It was reduced from the usual five places because Norris had “a very short time to react” it nonetheless moves him from sixth to ninth.
“[I’m] a bit gutted,” he said. “I didn’t feel like I did anything wrong. I felt [it] was the safest thing to do. It’s a bad decision or an unfair penalty.”
Sad news from the F1 world:
It is with deep sadness that McLaren Racing announces the death of Mansour Ojjeh, shareholder of McLaren since 1984.
Mr Ojjeh passed away peacefully this morning in Geneva, aged 68, surrounded by his family, to whom the team sends its most heartfelt condolences. pic.twitter.com/yAmp4apuYl
So, after coming seventh and 11th in practice sessions on Friday, what exactly changed for Hamilton’s car in the lead-up to qualifying yesterday? Any suspicions of sandbagging were put to bed by Toto Wolff’s account of “a really thorough engineering programme and we were not shy of trying extreme things, which were as extreme as we [have ever] experienced”.
Hamilton elaborated: ““We did some changes overnight which didn’t rectify it. We tried a few different things in P3 and then tried something right at the end and it unlocked the set-up. We hadn’t been able to get the tyres to switch on like the other cars and the difference was all of sudden the tyres started working and we were back in the game. It’s the biggest jump we have been able to make between P3 and quali. It was literally night and day with the car. It’s a bit overwhelming and we are in for a much different race than we anticipated.”
There’s nothing like a bit of misery to spur you on to greatness. Charles Leclerc was heartbroken in his home town of Monaco last week, unable to join the grid after taking pole in qualifying – but has responded in Baku with another perfectly judged lap to claim his place at the front of today’s grid. Meanwhile Lewis Hamilton, overtaken in the title race after a middling display in Monaco, has come out swinging in Azerbaijan. He left it late, though, enduring some disastrous practice sessions before screeching into second place in yesterday’s crash-strewn qualifying session, just ahead of Max Verstappen, the man who has overtaken him in the standings.
Last week was fast and furious. Or rather, Verstappen was fast and Mercedes were furious, with the Red Bull driver leapfrogging into the lead in both championships, and a squabble of the use of flexible wings having rumbled on all week. (Christian Horner on Toto Wolff: “If I was Toto with the front wing he’s got on his car, I’d keep my mouth shut.” Wolff on horner: “Christian is a bit of a windbag who wants to be on camera.”)