Could Charles Leclerc have taken pole position had he not crashed in qualifying at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix? Could the Ferrari driver still take an unlikely maiden victory on Sunday?
The answer to the first question will never be known. But the second will be answered on Sunday, and, unlikely as the prospect may seem from ninth on the grid, it cannot be ruled out completely.
In a normal race, on a normal track, ninth would be too far back for anyone to entertain a victory. But Baku is very far from a normal track, and it tends not to host conventional types of races either.
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‘I threw all the potential in the bin’
Leclerc’s despair as he climbed out of his crumpled Ferrari having smacked it into the barriers at Turn Eight midway through second qualifying was plain to see – and completely understandable.
The 21-year-old had looked ‘the man’ all weekend. Quicker than Vettel in first practice, as they were the only two drivers to set times before it was cancelled after George Russell’s Williams was destroyed by a loose manhole cover. Quickest in second practice on Friday. And again in final practice on Saturday morning.
He started qualifying 0.6secs quicker than Vettel in the first session, albeit pipped to fastest time by Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly, who ran later. Then, in the second session, he was again quicker than Vettel as Ferrari made the questionable decision to send their cars out on the slower medium tyres rather than the faster softs, in an attempt to start the race on them.