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    Leclerc makes it back-to-back pole positions as crashes stop Baku qualifying

    Jun 5, 2021
    Max Verstappen congratulates Charles Leclerc for taking pole position.
    PHOTO: AP

    BAKU, Azerbaijan — Charles Leclerc won his second consecutive pole position, again under the red flag because a crash stopped qualifying, to earn the top starting spot for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

    Leclerc set his time of 1 minute, 41.218 seconds early in Saturday's third session. Championship leader Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton were among the drivers just starting their late flying laps when Yuki Tsunoda hit the wall and then Leclerc's teammate Carlos Sainz crashed right behind Tsunoda.

    It brought an immediate end to the session and put Leclerc on pole for the second consecutive grand prix.

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    It was Leclerc who crashed his Ferrari to end qualifying at the Monaco Grand Prix two weeks ago, and even though he retained his starting position at his home track, repairs to his car were not completed in time and he did not race.

    "It feels very good, on the other hand it was with a red flag again, so I wish we had it under normal track, but at the end a pole is a pole," Leclerc said.

    Tsunoda's crash brought out the fourth red flag of the qualifying session and stopped any challenge to Leclerc.

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      Hamilton was .232 off the pace in second — a rebound after Mercedes had struggled to match Red Bull and Ferrari in practice. Verstappen took third, .113 back.

      Lance Stroll and Antonio Giovinazzi both went off at the same corner in the first qualifying session before setting a time, and Daniel Ricciardo crashed in the second session. The Australian is in his first season with McLaren but has finished behind teammate Lando Norris in four of five races so far this year.
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      Max Verstappen congratulates Charles Leclerc for taking pole position.
      PHOTO: AP
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