Ferrari planned to use Hamilton’s tow to grab Baku pole

Laurent Mekies has revealed that Ferrari successfully planned to use a tow from Lewis Hamilton to help Charles Leclerc score pole in qualifying for the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Ferrari planned to use Hamilton’s tow to grab Baku pole

After spending much of the Baku race weekend downplaying his chances of repeating his Monaco feat, Leclerc scored his second straight pole position after topping Q3 ahead of Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

A red flag at the end of the session prevented any drivers from improving on their first efforts, meaning Leclerc’s benchmark of 1m41.218s stood for pole.

A number of drivers were left frustrated by their track position in the first Q3 run as they jostled to try and get behind another car so they could pick up a tow.

But after noticing Mercedes was giving its drivers two warm-up laps before going onto a push lap, Ferrari looked to take advantage and position Leclerc behind Hamilton.

"It’s always a compromise between wanting a tow and going at the end of the group and having the risk too late, to have a yellow or red in front of you,” explained Ferrari sporting director Mekies.

“On the other hand, going in the front of the queue, and having a clean outlap but losing quite a few tenths of slipstream. It is a compromise in that case.”

Ferrari was able to position Leclerc so he gradually got closer to Hamilton throughout his lap, allowing him to pick up a slipstream through the fast final sector and long start/finish straight, boosting him to pole position.

“It was perfectly timed,” Mekies said.

“Mercedes was doing a prep lap. We knew about it, Charles knew about it, he timed his outlap perfectly, building up the right gap to land pretty much on Lewis’s gearbox for the final straight for him.

“It was definitely a super job from his side, and altogether, his team did very good managing a difficult qualifying.”

Read Also:

Leclerc will enter Sunday’s race trying to capitalise on his surprise pole position, having failed to start last time out in Monaco due to damage sustained in a qualifying crash.

Mekies was sceptical Ferrari has the outright pace to win in Baku, though, believing it would require a defensive race from the whole team to protect its advantage.

“We expect a tough fight, because we will not have the pace to fight for the win, so it’s going to be a defensive race,” Mekies said.

“The important thing is we develop as a team, and the results like [Saturday] are encouragement to do so."

shares
comments

Related video

The no-ego Williams ace foiled by 90s F1’s technology push

Previous article

The no-ego Williams ace foiled by 90s F1’s technology push

Next article

Gasly "doesn't have an answer" for improved Baku form

Gasly "doesn't have an answer" for improved Baku form
Load comments
The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address Prime

The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address

OPINION: Changes to the layout of Abu Dhabi’s circuit aim to reverse the trend of insipid Formula 1 races there - the promoter has even described one of the new corners as “iconic”. And that, argues STUART CODLING, is one of this venue’s abiding failings

How Ferrari offered Callum Ilott what Red Bull couldn't Prime

How Ferrari offered Callum Ilott what Red Bull couldn't

Last year's Formula 2 runner-up Callum Ilott could be on his way to becoming the first Briton to contest a grand prix in an Alfa Romeo since Reg Parnell in 1950. But, says Oleg Karpov, the Ferrari Driver Academy protege is having to temper his ambition at the moment – outwardly at least…

Formula 1
Jul 25, 2021
The signs that point to F1's rude health Prime

The signs that point to F1's rude health

OPINION: Formula 1's calendar might still be facing disruption as the pandemic affects travel but, says Mark Gallagher, the business itself is fundamentally strong thanks to the epic rivalry taking place on track and the consistent arrival of new sponsors.

Formula 1
Jul 24, 2021
The unexpected benefit of F1's sprint race repeat Prime

The unexpected benefit of F1's sprint race repeat

OPINION: Formula 1's sprint race trial at Silverstone drew mixed feedback on Saturday, but there remained the true test of how it would impact Sunday's Grand Prix. While fans were busy marvelling at Fernando Alonso's progress, a key lesson was being learned that would directly contribute to the dramatic lap-one clash at Copse the following day

Formula 1
Jul 22, 2021
The off-track considerations that led to Hamilton/Verstappen F1 shunt Prime

The off-track considerations that led to Hamilton/Verstappen F1 shunt

OPINION: Formula 1’s 2021 title fight turned ugly last weekend when Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton collided at the start of the British Grand Prix. Verstappen thankfully walked away unharmed, but this had been a clash long-since coming.

Formula 1
Jul 21, 2021
British Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

British Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The 2021 British Grand Prix will live long in the memory for the dramatic clash between Formula 1's two title protagonists, which opened the door for other drivers to capitalise. One did so in spectacular fashion, while others fluffed their lines

Formula 1
Jul 19, 2021
How Leclerc almost defied Hamilton after Silverstone clash Prime

How Leclerc almost defied Hamilton after Silverstone clash

A poor start for Valtteri Bottas and the lap one clash between Formula 1's 2021 title protagonists gave Charles Leclerc a surprise lead in the British Grand Prix that he almost held to the end. Here's how the Ferrari driver came close to a famous victory, ultimately denied by a recovering Lewis Hamilton three laps from home

Formula 1
Jul 19, 2021
The signs that suggest Mercedes can win at Silverstone Prime

The signs that suggest Mercedes can win at Silverstone

Red Bull and Max Verstappen scored an early blow against Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes at Silverstone, with sprint qualifying race victory. But that doesn’t mean Sunday’s grand prix is a foregone conclusion. Although Verstappen starts as the favourite, here’s why Mercedes still holds hope of winning

Formula 1
Jul 18, 2021