Azerbaijan GP: Charles Leclerc crashes out of F1 qualifying
Pole-favourite Leclerc crashes into Turn Eight barriers in Q2; Ferrari driver to start from 10th in Sunday's race, lights out 1.10pm on Sky Sports F1
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 28/04/19 1:23pm
A distraught Charles Leclerc rebuked himself for the "stupid" crash which wrecked his chances of securing pole position for the Azerbaijan GP.
Leclerc had appeared the favourite for pole in Baku after impressing in practice, but his hopes spectacularly unravelled in Q2 as he smashed into the barriers at the entry to the castle chicane.
"I am stupid, I am stupid..." lamented Leclerc over Ferrari team radio.
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The 21-year-old did not go any easier on himself when speaking to Sky Sports F1 afterwards.
"I've been stupid. I will push to learn from this and come back stronger and hopefully have a very good race tomorrow," said Leclerc of the Turn Eight shunt.
"For the next three or four hours I will be beating myself up."
Leclerc also posted on social media:
The 21-year-old crashed at exactly the same point of the circuit as Robert Kubica, who lost his Williams in similar circumstances at the end of Q1.
Both accidents prompted lengthy delays while trackside officials repaired the barrier, which is on the entry to the narrowest corner in F1.
Leclerc was fifth-fastest at the time of his accident, with Ferrari attempting to make Q3 on the slower medium tyres. His previous lap time proved enough to see him through and he will start Sunday's race from 10th.
"Ferrari are shell-shocked. I don't think they can quite believe what has happened," said Sky F1's Ted Kravitz.
After Mercedes went on to claim an unexpected front-row lockout, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted: "Charles should have been on pole today and I think if he made it to Q3 he would have been, but would haves don't count in Formula 1."
What went wrong for Leclerc?
The Monaco-born driver had established something of a reputation as a Baku expert heading into this weekend, winning in F2 in 2017 and then finishing sixth for unfancied Sauber in F1 last year.
His supreme pace throughout practice on Friday and Saturday morning had then appeared to underline that before Leclerc, in his own words, "throwed all the potential in the bin".
"I don't want to say anything stupid but I think after FP1, FP2 and FP3 and Q1, pole was possible today and I throwed all the potential in the bin. I'm very disappointed and will come back stronger from this," said Leclerc.
"I braked as much as I did on the softs but I was on the mediums and locked up. It's no problem with the tyres it's just myself."
Leclerc was on the slower medium tyres at the time of his accident and, as it turned out, his only timed lap of Q2 would ultimately have been sufficicent to make Q3. He will start Sunday's race, which begins at 1.10pm on Sky Sports F1, from ninth.
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