Max Verstappen incident reviewed by stewards after Azerbaijan GP qualifying

Max Verstappen will start on the front row in Azerbaijan for the first time.

Max Verstappen enjoyed a solid qualifying session on Friday at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with the Dutchman having secured a strong front row start.

Despite being blisteringly quick in the last sector throughout qualifying, Verstappen couldn’t beat Charles Leclerc to pole at the Baku City Circuit, with the Monegasque having claimed his third consecutive pole in Baku.

Verstappen was beaten to what would’ve been his third pole position of the 2023 F1 season by 0.188s, with Leclerc having had the edge in the first two sectors.

Starting second in Baku isn’t the worst place to be, though, given that the reigning World Champion will be on Leclerc’s inside as they approach Turn One.

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As well as that, Leclerc hasn’t converted his pole position into victory in Baku in 2021 or 2022, with Red Bull having won in both years.

So whilst Verstappen might be disappointed to have missed out on pole position, all is certainly not lost, especially as he gets to do it all over again in the sprint qualifying Saturday morning.

Speaking in parc ferme after qualifying second for Sunday’s main race, Verstappen explained how “tough” it is in Baku to be perfect throughout the lap, given how challenging the street circuit is.

“It’s always tough around here, to put the whole lap together,” Verstappen said after jumping out of the car.

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“On the second run we tried something on the out lap which maybe was not ideal for the lap. It’s not the easiest but nevertheless we are P2, we know that we have a very good race car.

“Looking forward to it to see what we can do there, maybe we can find a few things to do better.

“It’s all about keeping it clean, it’s super easy around here to make a mistake.”

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Qualifying wasn’t all plain sailing for the Dutch driver, with the FIA having noted him during Q1.

In the opening minutes of Q1, Verstappen exited the pits before returning to his garage at the end of his out-lap, after informing his team on the radio that his headrest had become loose.

The FIA decided that the incident didn’t require an investigation, with it having been determined that Verstappen’s headrest broke whilst he was out on the circuit, rather than before he had left the garage.