After the devastatingly long break, F1 is back and back with a bang! The FIA before the weekend started announced a new format for this race-week, Baku at the beginning of the season was named a track that would be one of the few sprint races we have this season. However, after review, it was decided a new format should be trialled out.
The new format consists a practice session in the morning, followed by Qualifying for the race on Sunday, pretty standard so far. Yet the drastic changes come in on Saturday. On Saturday morning we have another Qualifying session which applies to the sprint race ONLY. The sprint race takes place on Saturday after the Sprint Quali. The result in the sprint race will NOT determine the grid for Sunday as it has previously.
Essentially on Saturday we now have a mini race week squeezed into one day. It is unknown whether this format will be continued in the future and for the remainder of the sprint races this season, but for this week it is definitely structured in this way.
Regarding component wear, all teams are allowed to increase their components by one, this means no issues will be flagged up about components with the new format in-place.
Charles Leclerc Claims Three In A RowEmbed from Getty Images
After an intense qualifying Leclerc claimed pole position for the third year running.
Before going into the final lap he and Max Verstappen had set the same time! But it would all mean nothing in the end as he would go faster on his final flying lap for Friday and claim Pole for the race on Sunday.
Leclerc has looked strong this weekend and been significantly ahead of his teammate Carlos Sainz. Around an 0.8s gap was between them which should surely raise some alarm bells within the Ferrari camp, but nevertheless, Sainz will start P4 for the race on Sunday alongside Sergio Perez.
He took pole with a lap of 1:40.203 with Max Verstappen coming second with a time of 1:40.391. A super lap from Charles who will hope to score some significant points for the race on Sunday. They had the pace in Quali, now lets see if they have it in the race.
Q1 ChaosEmbed from Getty Images
Chaos descended in Q1 as a variety of issues decided to happen. Only a couple minutes into Qualifying De Vries crashed the car into the wall, with the car wedged in the first Red Flag was brought out.
As the Red Flag was brought out we had two drivers complaining about their issues on the radio, first was Kevin Magnussen who went on to the radio exclaiming engine issues, the team came back explaining they may have some electrical faults, It wasn’t clear if they were resolved in the remainder of the session. Despite if the issues were solved or not, Magnussen ended up qualifying P18.
The second driver was Max Verstappen who had issues with his headrest, issues were that potentially it was loose, but during the red flag in the pits it was changed and there was no further issue for the remainder of qualifying.
The chaos didn’t end their though! With the session being resumed, shortly after, Pierre Gasly clipped the same wall that De Vries had crashed into, resulting in his rear wing being broken and his retirement to the session. A bad day at Alpine with Gasly starting the race P19 and Ocon P12.
It didn’t help that in the first session, Gasly’s car had also caught fire which Alpine managed to just get fixed in time, so for all that fixing to result in nothing must be a harsh one for the Alpine team. Hopefully they’ll pick up some consistency and pick some points up for Sunday.
Overall, a very hectic Friday with a lot of drama involved in it, the grid order for Sunday has been determined but the Saturday race still remains unknown. Another Qualifying session lays ahead as well as a sprint race with points up for grabs.
Who do you think could be a surprise this weekend? Let us know down below!