BAKU, Azerbaijan — Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc crashed out of qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after hitting the barriers at the tightest section of the circuit.
Leclerc looked like the favourite for pole position after topping all three practice sessions earlier in the weekend, but a mistake in the second part of qualifying brought an end to his afternoon. He had already set a time quick enough to progress through to the final session of qualifying, but the mistake means he will start ninth on Sunday’s grid.
“I am stupid. I am stupid,” Leclerc said on team radio as the session was suspended to allow track marshals to remove his car and repair the barriers.
He tweeted soon after that he had “been useless” and had “no excuses”.
No excuses. I’ve been useless. I will push to have a better tomorrow.
Sorry to all the people supporting us and even more to the whole team that deserved so much better.
📸: @motorsportpics1 pic.twitter.com/F8rDEr2L0A
— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) April 27, 2019
“I deserve what happened today,” he added after the session. “I’m very sad for what happened but I deserve it. I’ve been stupid, as I said on the radio.
“I’ve calmed down but I still think I’ve been stupid. This doesn’t change. I will push to learn from this and come back stronger and hopefully have a very good race tomorrow. But yeah, yeah, I deserve it. I don’t want to say anything stupid but I think after looking at FP1, FP2, FP3, Q1, pole was possible today and I threw all the potential in the bin. So, I am very disappointed and I’ll come back stronger from this.”
The accident came at Turn 8 as Leclerc locked up under braking and ran wide into the barriers. The section of track is the tightest on the F1 calendar and rounds Baku’s UNESCO-protected old city walls. Had he released the brakes and continued into the run off, as Lewis Hamilton did at the same corner on Friday, he would have lost his lap but saved his session.
Williams driver Robert Kubica had a similar accident at the same point of the circuit earlier in qualifying, bringing the first part of session to an early end.