Baku F2: Leclerc grabs fourth pole in a row

Ferrari Formula 1 junior driver Charles Leclerc claimed his fourth successive Formula 2 pole position as he topped an interrupted qualifying session in Baku ahead of Nobuharu Matsushita.

Baku F2: Leclerc grabs fourth pole in a row
Charles Leclerc, PREMA Powerteam
Charles Leclerc, PREMA Powerteam
Charles Leclerc, PREMA Powerteam
Nicholas Latifi, DAMS
Nyck De Vries, Rapax
Nobuharu Matsushita, ART Grand Prix
Louis Deletraz, Racing Engineering, Nobuharu Matsushita, ART Grand Prix, Ralph Boschung, Campos Racing

Leclerc – who currently leads the championship standings – set a best time of 1m52.129s after the 30-minute session was held up by three red flag periods.

His closest title rival, DAMS racer and Renault F1 development driver Oliver Rowland, ended up in ninth place.

Matsushita headed Leclerc at the top of the times after the first runs on the streets of the Azerbaijan capital had been completed.

But the session was then disrupted by the first red flags, which came out as a result of Russian Time driver Luca Ghiotto locking his left front wheel going into Turn 15 and sliding into the barriers on the exit of the corner.

After his car was recovered and the debris was swept away by the marshals, the field headed back out on to the circuit but were swiftly sent back to the pits when the session was stopped for a second time.

Once race control was finally happy to let qualifying resume, Antonio Fuoco and Rowland were just able to squeeze in improvements before the session was stopped for the third time after the Briton's DAMS teammate Nicholas Latifi knocked the right front wing endplate off of his car at the tight Turn 8.

Once the session finally got back underway for good, Leclerc set about securing his fourth F2 pole from his first four races in the category.

The Prema Racing driver pushed Matsushita into second place by a massive 0.7s and improved again on his final lap.

ART Grand Prix's Matsushita was able to improve on his last effort but still wound up 0.5s behind Leclerc.

Latifi recovered from his earlier error to set the third fastest time ahead of practice pacesetter and McLaren F1 junior Nyck de Vries.

Artem Markelov finished fifth ahead of Fuoco, Johnny Cecotto, Sergio Canamasas and Rowland, who complained about "pretty glazed" brakes ahead of his final run.

Robert Visoiu rounded out the top 10 for Campos Racing.

Jordan King finished down in 15th place for MP Motorsport, while Sergey Sirotkin – who is filling in for the injured Alexander Albon at ART – qualified 17th on his return to the second-tier F1 support series.

Ghiotto had only set a warm-up lap time before his accident and will start the feature race from 20th place on the grid.

ClaDriverTeamLapsTimeGap
1 monaco Charles Leclerc  italy Prema Powerteam 10 1'52.129  
2 japan Nobuharu Matsushita  france ART Grand Prix 9 1'52.697 0.568
3 canada Nicholas Latifi  france DAMS 10 1'52.865 0.736
4 netherlands Nyck de Vries  italy Rapax 10 1'53.018 0.889
5 russia Artem Markelov  russia RUSSIAN TIME 10 1'53.135 1.006
6 italy Antonio Fuoco  italy Prema Powerteam 11 1'53.220 1.091
7 venezuela Johnny Cecotto  italy Rapax 10 1'53.313 1.184
8 spain Sergio Canamasas  italy Trident 13 1'53.354 1.225
9 united_kingdom Oliver Rowland  france DAMS 11 1'53.479 1.350
10 romania Robert Visoiu  spain Campos Racing 10 1'53.670 1.541
11 brazil Sergio Sette Camara  netherlands MP Motorsport 8 1'53.853 1.724
12 france Norman Nato  united_kingdom Arden International 10 1'53.900 1.771
13 indonesia Sean Gelael  united_kingdom Arden International 10 1'54.032 1.903
14 sweden Gustav Malja  spain Racing Engineering 10 1'54.286 2.157
15 united_kingdom Jordan King  netherlands MP Motorsport 10 1'54.295 2.166
16 switzerland Ralph Boschung  spain Campos Racing 10 1'54.339 2.210
17 russia Sergey Sirotkin  france ART Grand Prix 13 1'54.384 2.255
18 switzerland Louis Deletraz  spain Racing Engineering 11 1'54.688 2.559
19 malaysia Nabil Jeffri  italy Trident 11 1'54.857 2.728
20 italy Luca Ghiotto  russia RUSSIAN TIME 3 2'06.148 14.019
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