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Max Verstappen is seeking a first ever Azerbaijan Grand Prix race win this weekend – and will hope to put himself on pole position in Baku this afternoon. The Red Bull driver, the Drivers’ Championship leader by nine points, chases a fifth win from eight races so far in 2022 but will face competition from his team-mate Sergio Perez as well as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
But Verstappen’s rival last season Lewis Hamilton is well off the pace in the Mercedes and will not be in contention for a win this weekend. The Silver Arrows are struggling with porpoising yet again.
Leclerc was 0.2seconds faster than the Red Bulls in FP2 on Friday after Perez had gone quickest in the first practice session earlier in the day. The Mexican also went fastest in P3 and has some history at this race. He won in Azerbaijan last year and was on the podium here in 2018 with Force India.
Verstappen has never won in Baku and suffered a major tyre blow-out last year while leading the race. He is looking to right those wrongs but Leclerc and Ferrari are also looking for their first victories in the country, which has only entertained racing since 2017 with Daniel Ricciardo, Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas the only other victors.
Qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix gets underway at 3pm UK time. Express Sport brings you live updates below.
McLaren discuss Ricciardo
McLaren’s Andreas Seidl has been talking about Daniel Ricciardo’s problems, with the Australian’s future with the team the subject of speculation due to his poor results.
Seidl told Sky Sports F1 this afternoon: “There’s no magic. We simply have to keep working hard, analysing together with him where we think we can find the last percentages, which are sometimes missing at the moment, especially when it comes to qualifying and pushing the car to the limit.
“As we have seen yesterday and overnight, by keeping on doing this, using all the energy within the team, together with Daniel, by being committed on both sides to make it work, we are making steps.”
Pierre Gasly has been mentioned as a potential option to replace Ricciardo should he indeed lose his seat.
Qualifying will not begin until around 3.15pm due to a crash in the F2 sprint.
Repairs need to be made to the barriers before we can begin. Just under half-an-hour to go.
Lewis Hamilton was only 12th fastest in both FP2 and FP3 – will he make it through to Q3 today?
A top-10 start seems it would be a small victory for Mercedes given the severe bouncing the Briton is suffering around Baku.
Here’s how the time-sheet looked after the third and final practice session earlier.
It’s very, very tight between the Red Bulls and the Ferraris.
The two teams are split by 36 points in the Constructors’ Championship, with Max Verstappen just ahead of Charles Leclerc in the Drivers’ Championship.
Hello and welcome to Express Sport’s live coverage of Azerbaijan Grand Prix qualifying.
Sergio Perez has been the man to beat in two of three practice sessions until now.
Can the Mexican claim pole today? We get underway in 30 minutes’ time.
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