Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari driver, has expressed his delight in securing pole position in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The Monaco-born driver was surprised by his achievement, especially given the challenges he has faced at the beginning of the season.
"It's really good, especially considering the beginning of the season I've had," Leclerc said. "Obviously, we haven't had the greatest of beginnings, but it's great to be back on pole. Honestly, I did not expect it."
An Unexpected Triumph
Leclerc will commence the race on Sunday from the coveted first position, however, under the new sprint weekend format of Formula One, he will have to participate in a second qualifying session on Saturday.
The results of this session will then determine the starting grid for the 100 km sprint race, also on Saturday. "I think we came into the weekend thinking that it would already be a great result if we were in front of the Aston Martins and the Mercedes, and we find ourselves on pole," he said.
"So really really happy with that."
Defending the Lead
Despite his impressive performance in the qualifying round, Leclerc remains cautious about his ability to defend his lead from the Red Bulls over the course of the race.
"I hope so, but I don't have the answer yet," he said. "But one thing for sure is that I think we did a step forward in Australia." Leclerc retired from the previous round in Australia following a collision with Lance Stroll in the first corner.
However, he believes that the team has made progress, even if it was not reflected in his own performance. "On my side, obviously couldn't show it. But on Carlos [Sainz]'s side, I think the feeling was much better during the race.
Then how much better it is, we still need to see on Sunday. So I think on that, we still have some question marks."
A Close Call
In the final lap of the qualifying round, Leclerc came close to the barriers at the first corner.
However, he managed to recover and complete the lap successfully. "On street circuits, you always try and do one lap in Q3 pushing obviously more than any other lap before," he said. "But then for the last lap, you just put everything in and see how it goes." "So it was a close call in Turn 1, but overall, it was quite a clean lap. And yeah, again, really happy with the lap."
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