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'We've Been Struggling': Lewis Hamilton Hopes to Fight it Out with Leclerc, Verstappen

News18 Sports

Last Updated: June 05, 2021, 23:53 IST

Lewis Hamilton (L) with Charles Leclerc at Azerbaijan GP (Photo Credit: AP)

Lewis Hamilton (L) with Charles Leclerc at Azerbaijan GP (Photo Credit: AP)

Lewis Hamilton talked about Mercedes' pace struggle and said he was hoping to fight his competitors in pole-sitter Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen.

Lewis Hamilton took the second spot in Azerbaijan Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday and hailed his qualifying result as “monumental". He said he was hoping to be able to fight with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who took the pole position, and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who finished third. “The lap was OK and we definitely weren’t expecting that. We’ve been struggling like you wouldn’t believe", said Hamilton, targeting his record-extending 99th career win on Sunday. “Our race pace is a lot better than our one-lap pace - we don’t understand why - and hopefully we can take the fight to these guys tomorrow," he added.

Leclerc got his second straight pole but after crashing his way to the pole at Monaco Grand Prix, he had to pull out of the main race. In Azerbaijan, he will be looking for redemption. He said he didn’t have expectations and so he was happy with the result.

“I didn’t expect us to be this competitive so I’m happy with how it went," Leclerc said. “The car felt OK but I feel Mercedes and Red Bull have a bit more from us so it will be difficult tomorrow." — Leclerc

Verstappen, whose car required flash repairs after a crash in third practice, cut a frustrated figure, the Dutch driver saying: “It was just a stupid qualifying to be honest. It is what it is though, we’re still P3.

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“Our car is still strong so let’s see what we can do for the race.

“Let’s hope for a clean start, three different cars at the front which is always good to have."

For Gasly meanwhile there was the satisfaction of matching his best ever grid position.

“It’s been a fantastic day I must say, We couldn’t have hoped for anything better. We were fighting with Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull."

Lando Norris in the McLaren had qualified sixth and was destined for the third row alongside Sainz but he was hit with a three place grid penalty for not pitting soon enough after the second of four red flag appearances.

“I didn’t know I was under investigation so I have to speak to the team. I was in the middle, didn’t know at what point I could go left or right, I slowed down right away, I don’t think I did anything wrong" said the Briton placed third in the driver’s standings.

Q1 was suspended for 10 minutes when Lance Stroll crashed his Aston Martin, with the red flags out again when Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo struck a barrier.

Q2 was halted with a minute and a half left to run after Daniel Ricciardo gave his McLaren an unscheduled crumpled makeover.

And the red flags came out for a fourth and final time towards the end of Q3 but by then Leclerc had sealed his pole to put Ferrari in sight of their first win since Singapore 2019.

(With AFP inputs)

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first published:June 05, 2021, 23:53 IST
last updated:June 05, 2021, 23:53 IST