Charles Leclerc has made it clear he intends to win the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, while suggesting he expects Ferrari to issue team orders.

The Scuderia driver has seen his title bid take a significant hit in the past few race weekends, sustaining a power unit failure in Baku and taking a penalty in Canada that saw him start at the back of the grid.

That has left Leclerc with a huge disadvantage in the championship chase – now 49 points behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen – and his attempts to improve this weekend come amid increased competition.

Mercedes appear to have bounced back after their troubles in the earlier stages of the season, while Leclerc's team-mate Carlos Sainz also seems to have found his rhythm – pushing Verstappen all the way in Montreal before securing a first pole position for Sunday's race at Silverstone.

While Leclerc is delighted for Sainz and made it clear the team come first, he hinted he expects Ferrari to make a strategic call for the race win if the opportunity materialises.

"If I'm happy to help Carlos to win his first race tomorrow? I think of course, I will be very happy if Carlos wins the race tomorrow, but I'm not going to hide that I want to win, too," Leclerc told a news conference.

"But I think what is most important is that we finished one-two, whatever way around it is, and if we can play strategic moves in between the cars, I'm pretty sure that we will. 

"So, let's see how it goes tomorrow. But again, I feel confident with the car. So, let's wait and see."

Dry running was restricted in the build-up to Sunday's race, with qualifying a washout, but better weather is anticipated for the race, and Leclerc added he is confident with the car's set-up.

"Much happier this morning, compared to yesterday. Yesterday, it was very, very difficult to put a lap together," he said.

"But this morning, I felt quite confident with the car. So, yeah, I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow."

Carlos Sainz expressed his surprise after he secured the first pole position of his Formula One career for Sunday's British Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver pipped championship leader Max Verstappen and team-mate Charles Leclerc to first on the grid, putting him at the front for what will be the 150th start of his career.

A wet session at Silverstone left everything to play for heading into the final minute of qualifying, but none were able to better Sainz's time of 1:40.983, finishing less than a hundredth of a second ahead of Red Bull's Verstappen.

While it was enough to secure a landmark result for the Spaniard, he did not believe his lap would be top of the pile.

"It was a good lap, I was struggling a lot with the standing water with the intermediates. It was very easy to get snaps and lose the lap, also very easy to lose the tyres," he said.

"In the end, I put in a lap that I thought was nothing special, I just put it on the board and see how it is and it was pole position, which cannot be a bad surprise."

Sainz will now be seeking the maiden win of his career and, having shown improvements in Canada with a second-placed finish behind Verstappen, believes he has the potential to do exactly that.

"The base has been there all weekend. We had some issues that we think we have corrected. If I base myself on my FP2 pace, I think we will be in a good position. I'm sure Max and Charles will put on a lot of pressure but I will try my best of course."

Verstappen had consistently set the fastest laps in qualifying, but with the weather playing a part, he ultimately could not do enough to get the job done.

Nevertheless, he feels he is in a good position as he looks for a third consecutive win.

"It was quite a tricky qualifying with the rain, you have to be on the track at the right time, but overall the car was working really well. In Q3, it's a bit of a lottery sometimes when you have to put in the best lap," he said.

"To be on the front row, it's very good for us and we have a good race car I think both in the dry and in the wet."

Leclerc, on the back of some difficult race weekends, starts on the second row after spinning on his final flying lap – though he still believes he is in a position to mount a challenge.

"I spun on the last lap, I knew it was the lap where I had to put everything together, but I didn't as the driver, so I didn't deserve to be on pole," he said.

"It's a good position to start in for tomorrow's race and hopefully we can put everything together and come back.

"I think the pace is there, if we have a clean race and everything goes well, a good start and tyre management, the strategy will be a bit mixed between one or two stops so it will be interesting to see. Hopefully we make the right choice and come back to where we want to be."

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 1:40.983
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.072
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +0.315
4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.633
5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +1.012
6. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.101
7. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +1.133
8. George Russell (Mercedes) +1.178
9. Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo) +1.736
10. Nicholas Latifi (Williams) +22.112

Lewis Hamilton was pleased with the "small step forwards" taken by Mercedes after setting the second-fastest time in practice ahead of the British Grand Prix.

The Briton was 0.163 seconds slower than pace-setter Carlos Sainz in FP2, while compatriot Lando Norris was third and championship leader Max Verstappen in fourth.

Hamilton has yet to win a race this season, but he offered plenty of promise heading into a big weekend on home soil at a packed Silverstone with his performance in practice.

However, the seven-time world champion offered a word of caution over the ongoing porpoising issue that has dominated recent races.

"It's bouncing still, quite a bit," he said. "Not necessarily on the straights but through the corners it's pretty harsh – not physically harsh but in the car on the tyres and everything.

"So we still have work to do but it feels like a small step forwards.

"Our long run pace isn't as good as the other guys but it's not miles off. We've definitely made an improvement. I'm sure overnight we can work and improve the car a bit more."

Hamilton may have endured a difficult campaign to date, lagging as he does 98 points behind leader Verstappen, but he boasts an impressive record on his home turf.

The 37-year-old has won the British Grand Prix eight times and could become the driver to have won the most races at a single Grand Prix with victory this weekend.

Mercedes, meanwhile, have recorded eight of the last nine wins at Silverstone, while also taking eight of the last nine poles.

McLaren driver Norris looks good value to challenge for a second podium of 2022 after a surprising rise up the timesheets, having finished 15th last time out in Canada.

"As good as it looked, it is still difficult to put things together and be consistent but I am happy," he said.

"The car seems to be in a decent place, at least a little better than we were expecting."

Friday was rather unimpressive for Red Bull's Verstappen, who has won six of the nine races this year, including five of the last six.

But the Dutchman – who is out to surpass Valtteri Bottas and equal Rubens Barrichello as the driver with the eighth-most podiums ever (68) – is confident of finding improvement.

"It's always a bit tricky, of course, after not driving in FP1 and then FP2 becomes a bit of guessing, let's say it like that," Verstappen said. 

"It was maybe not ideal, but also not a big issue. I think we know what we have to work on and that's what we'll try to do overnight. 

"But, again, tomorrow probably it's raining so you have again different kinds of conditions. This time probably was not amazing, but it was also not really bad."

Charles Leclerc is confident Ferrari will be fighting for the win at Silverstone – as long as the team can avoid any further reliability woes.

Power unit issues have led to recent retirements in Spain and Azerbaijan, the last of which resulted in a back-of-the-grid start for the Canadian Grand Prix after taking a third unit of the season.

Those troubles, accompanied by a wrong strategy call in Monaco, have seen Max Verstappen and Red Bull take a commanding lead in both championships – with the defending champion winning four of the past five races.

Ferrari's potential is undeniable, with six pole positions out of nine, but only two have resulted in race wins and the last came in Australia almost three months ago.

In his career overall, Leclerc's 15 poles have returned just four wins for a 27 per cent winning percentage – the second lowest in F1 history among drivers who have won at least one race, behind only Jarno Trulli (25 per cent, one win from four pole positions). 

Despite a 49-point deficit in the driver's championship, third-placed Leclerc remains upbeat and believes reliability will be an issue for all teams to contend with this season.

"No, I'm not worried. I mean, it's a big gap but, but I'm just focusing on the job, and I'm confident that we can take that back," he told Motorsport.

"I think reliability seems to be a concern for everyone this season. And yeah, if we fix our reliability, the performance is there to come back. So already from Silverstone we'll try to get a few points back.

"I really like Silverstone. And hopefully we will be competitive enough to be starting on pole and finally win from pole."

Mercedes' hunting ground

Eight of the past nine British GPs have been won by Mercedes, with the only exception being Sebastian Vettel with Ferrari in 2018, and improvements shown in Canada will provide encouragement for the Silver Arrows.

Lewis Hamilton's second podium finish of the season in third was the highlight in Montreal, but George Russell's consistency continues to stand out, with the British driver finishing in the top five in all nine races in 2022.

A win for Hamilton would be the ninth of his career at Silverstone, setting a new record for the most wins in a single GP – overtaking his eight victories in Hungary and Michael Schumacher's eight wins in France.

Driver market

Away from the track itself, the F1 driver market is starting to heat up as teams outline their plans for the 2023 season, and there are a number on the grid who could be under threat of losing their seats.

Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel are both out of contract at the end of the season – although each could still extend – while Daniel Ricciardo has work to do to impress McLaren to retain his seat despite being tied down for a further year.

Nicholas Latifi at Williams and Mick Schumacher at Haas are also under pressure, with F2 champion and Alpine reserve Oscar Piastri expected to get a chance in 2023. Antonio Giovinazzi has been touted for a return to the grid, too.

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 175
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 129
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 126
4. George Russell (Mercedes) 111
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 102

Constructors

1. Red Bull 304
2. Ferrari 228
3. Mercedes 188
4. McLaren 65
5. Alpine 57

Former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has issued a blunt verdict on Charles Leclerc's title hopes and has declared those backing Ferrari this season will "get nothing".

Red Bull's defending champion Max Verstappen has won six of the nine races so far this season to establish a dominant 49-point advantage over Leclerc – who is also three points adrift of Sergio Perez – in the drivers' championship.

That deficit has come amid a huge swing in the standings, with Leclerc previously holding a 46-point advantage over Verstappen following the opening three rounds of the season as the Dutch driver was forced to retire from two of those races.

However, Leclerc's most recent victory came in Australia in April and Verstappen has won five of the six races since, with Ecclestone stating he now has it "easy".

"Errors are creeping in again. The reliability we are seeing is often reminiscent of the old days and the drivers themselves are not always confident on the track," he told Blick.

"It means Max is having an easy time in the Red Bull with six wins already."

Ecclestone added that he had wanted to see Ferrari perform better in the 2022 season but early showings have ultimately led him to write off the team's chances.

"Like many people, I had hoped that Ferrari would succeed again after more than 14 years," he said.

"Unfortunately, I have to say that anyone who continues to put their money on Ferrari or Leclerc will get nothing."

Ferrari have not won the constructors' championship since 2008 and, from 1999 to 2008, had clinched the title in eight of the ten seasons.

Kimi Raikkonen was the last Ferrari driver to win the drivers' championship with his triumph in 2007, and is the only driver to win with Ferrari since Michael Schumacher's last success in 2004.

Carlos Sainz is optimistic his first Ferrari win could be just around the corner after pushing Max Verstappen close to the limit in the Canadian Grand Prix.

Defending Formula One drivers' champion Verstappen defended expertly to keep Sainz at bay over the closing laps in Montreal, sealing a sixth win of his season and extending his championship lead to 46 points.

Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, who abandoned Sunday's race in its early stages, sits second, while Sainz is fifth but producing strong results every time he finishes.

The Spaniard has had three DNFs, twice crashing out, but he has had five podiums and a fourth place in the other six races to date.

For the 27-year-old, however, the wait for a first Formula One race victory goes on.

Formerly of Toro Rosso, Renault and McLaren, he has been a staple of the top 10 in recent seasons, without yet scaling the top step.

He said of Sunday's race: "I was pushing flat out. I wasn't leaving any inch to the walls. I was pushing everything with the battery.

"I tried everything to pass Max, but today we just didn't have enough pace to get close enough in the hairpin to then get him a bit out of line into the chicane.

"But the positive thing is we were quicker, we were faster all race, we just [needed] that little bit more to overtake around here.

"I'm particularly happy with the race pace, with the way we managed to put pressure on Max during the whole race, and the timing of the pit stops I think was right."

Team-mate Charles Leclerc, third in the championship, has won twice already this season. He surged from a back-row start to earn fifth place in Canada.

Silverstone and the British Grand Prix is next on the calendar, with Sainz seeing grounds for Ferrari optimism.

He said: "Honestly, we tried everything, and we were very, very close to winning today, so I take the positives and keep trying in the next one."

Max Verstappen showed dogged resistance to secure victory in the Canadian Grand Prix after holding off Carlos Sainz, as Lewis Hamilton returned to the podium.

After the ninth leg of the 22-race season, Verstappen's lead in the Formula One drivers' championship stands at 46 points, and that is because his Red Bull team-mate and closest rival in the championship Sergio Perez was an early casualty in Montreal.

Sainz, in the Ferrari, clung tight behind Verstappen over the closing laps after a lengthy safety car delay but could not quite forge an overtaking opportunity.

That meant Verstappen's 150th grand prix was a triumphant one, as Sainz was kept waiting for his first F1 victory.

Hamilton had not finished on the podium since the season-opening race in Bahrain, a wait of seven races, so the Briton was delighted to get third, ahead of Mercedes team-mate George Russell. Hamilton said it was "quite overwhelming".

Perez, who crashed out in Q2 on Saturday, pulled over to the side of the track and abandoned the race on lap nine, seeming to lose power and complaining of being stuck in gear.

It was clear that Fernando Alonso, in the Alpine, would not be able to convert second place on the grid into a top-three finish as the two-time champion gradually drifted down the field.

Alonso did not pit until lap 29 and came back out on hard tyres in seventh place, behind team-mate Esteban Ocon and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

Leclerc first went to the pits on the 42nd lap, but it was a painfully sluggish stop and left the man from Monte Carlo down in 12th place. It was a credit to him and his team that he was able to surge through the field and close in to just three points behind Perez in the championship.

Yuki Tsunoda crashed out on lap 49 and that forced the drivers to proceed behind the safety car for five laps, drawing the field tightly together.

Leclerc, who started on the back row of the grid after his car was fitted with an all-new power unit, jumped ahead of the Alpines of Alonso and Ocon to go fifth, while at the front, Verstappen fittingly showed the defence of a champion to fend off Sainz.

Max Verstappen clinched pole position for Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix and Fernando Alonso secured an unlikely spot on the front row in Montreal.

Alonso, who set the pace in the final practice session, claimed second place in tricky, wet conditions in Saturday's qualifying session.

That hands the 40-year-old Spaniard his first front-row start in Formula One since he won from pole position at the German Grand Prix just under 10 years ago.

The two-time world champion, racing for Alpine, was the recipient of a huge ovation from the crowd as he celebrated his supreme qualifying performance, clocking up a time of 1:21.944 behind championship leader Verstappen's 1:21.299.

"It feels great. It was an unbelievable weekend for us so far, we’ve been competitive in free practice – which we normally are on Friday but on Saturday we seem to lose a little bit of pace – but in wet conditions today the car was mega, I was so comfortable driving this car and I think the fans gave me a push," a jubilant Alonso said.

When asked what his approach will be on Sunday, Alonso quipped: "Let's see, I think I will attack Max on the first corner."

Verstappen's pole ended the day on a high note for Red Bull, with team-mate and fellow title contender Sergio Perez set to start in 13th place after crashing out in Q2.

In difficult conditions, the reigning world champion – who will be further buoyed by title rival Charles Leclerc having to start at the back on Sunday due to Ferrari changing his entire power unit – was delighted with the composure shown by his team.

"Of course I still expect it not to be a straightforward race, today with tricky conditions, we stayed calm and we made the right calls in Q3 so of course, super happy with that to get pole position here and to be back in Montreal and great to see all the fans," he said.

"You really get that go-karting sensation back on this track with proper curves. We always enjoy driving here and I’m looking forward to tomorrow."

Carlos Sainz looked poised to push Verstappen, but a mistake on the final corner cost the Ferrari driver, who will start third on the grid. An incident involving the Spaniard and Esteban Ocon was investigated, but the stewards decided no further action was required.

Sainz said: "I was feeling quite okay with the car, especially in the full wet. In that lap I knew I had lost a bit too much, I tried to do a very quick last corner but it didn't pay off and it cost me half a second. I ended up with three for that mistake. I think it's going to be a good fight with Max up front and Fernando has been fast all weekend."

Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton – who did not hide his frustration with his car after struggling in practice on Friday – was lifted by claiming fourth.

Mercedes team-mate George Russell had to settle for eighth, however, after a decision to go on slicks in Q3 failed to pay off.

Charles Leclerc's Formula One world championship hopes have been dealt a blow after it was confirmed he will start at the back of the grid in Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix.

The title-chasing driver was already handed a 10-place grid penalty on Friday for changing his electronics control unit, following two power unit failures in the last two races that have dealt a significant blow in his push for the championship.

Leclerc's task in Montreal will now be one of damage limitation and Ferrari have elected to give him an entirely new power unit – a new internal combustion engine, turbo, MGU-H and MGU-K.

Drivers are only allowed to use three of each component over the course of a season but Leclerc will now use his fourth in Canada, while the ECU change leads to his third unit of the campaign when only two are allowed.

Leclerc's bad luck has led to an 80-point swing in the drivers' standings in favour of Red Bull's defending champion Max Verstappen, with his team-mate Sergio Perez also climbing above the Ferrari driver last weekend.

Two engine failures in back-to-back races have both come when Leclerc was leading the race, while he also lost the lead in Monaco after a team error in the pit lane saw him slip to fourth.

Leclerc had won two of the opening three races of the season to hold a 46-point lead over Verstappen, who had to retire in both of the events where the Monaco driver was victorious.

Charles Leclerc believes Ferrari have made "the best decision" by accepting a 10-place grid penalty for the Canadian Grand Prix.

Leclerc will start towards the back of the grid in Montreal after taking a new control electronic – his third used this season.

The Monegasque had little choice given the state of his power unit after the Azerbaijan GP, although it could have been the source of some frustration after he finished just 0.081 seconds behind Max Verstappen in FP2.

"Well, obviously I'm starting a little bit more in the back," Leclerc said. "But I think it was the best decision to make, so let's see how it goes.

"The overtaking was a little bit more difficult than I expected today, but the pace is there, so hopefully we can come back to where we want to be."

Indeed, despite championship leader Verstappen topping the charts in both Friday practice sessions, Leclerc added: "It is pretty close.

"The race pace we need to work on – I mean it's a bit difficult to have a clear picture, because I was on a different compound all the time – but overall, it didn't look too bad, so that's good."

Ferrari's recent issues with reliability have put a major dent in their driver's and constructor's title hopes, but they will need to quickly bounce back at this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix.

It was a painful day for the Scuderia at the Azerbaijan GP on Sunday, with both cars retiring due to technical issues.

For Charles Leclerc, it was the second time in three races he was forced out because of a power unit problem while leading, and the fourth consecutive race where he failed to convert pole position into a race win.

Sergio Perez took full advantage in Baku, moving ahead of Leclerc in the driver's standings with his win, with Max Verstappen opening up a 34-point gap to the Ferrari driver.

With two retirements sandwiching Ferrari's strategic blunder at his home race in Monaco, the Monegasque moves to four wins from 15 pole positions, with only Jarno Trulli holding a lower conversion rate (25 per cent) among winning drivers in the history F1.

Meanwhile, only Michael Schumacher (+23) and Alain Prost (+18) have a higher differential between race wins and pole positions than Max Verstappen, who has claimed 25 and 14 respectively.

Verstappen will already be making his 150th GP appearance at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, looking for his sixth win of the season out of nine starts.

It would provide little solace to the 24-year-old but he has been in supreme form on the Saturday, claiming six poles out of eight this season, and could match his highest tally in a single season from 2019.

Pole position is not essential but it has proved to be convenient in recent years, with each of the past five winners in Montreal coming from the front of grid on the Saturday, the longest such streak in F1.

Since the opening race of the season in Bahrain, Ferrari remain one more one-two finish away from surpassing Mercedes for the most all-time in F1, with both on 82.

Ferrari customers facing similar strife

Problems have persisted for the factory team and Ferrari power unit customers since the first upgrade at the Miami Grand Prix, where Zhou Guanyu retired.

Both he and Leclerc then retired from the Spanish GP, after Valtteri Bottas was forced out of FP2 in the other Alfa Romeo due to an engine failure.

Both Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen experienced MGU-K failures in Monaco, before Leclerc, Magnussen and Zhou had power unit-related DNFs in Baku.

Red Bull in control

After rectifying their own reliability issues at the start of the season, Red Bull have picked up the pieces and are now in control of both championships.

Red Bull drivers have finished on the podium in 11 of their 13 finished races, securing the one-two in three of the last five Grands Prix and are one more from securing the highest tally in a single season.

The last time the team had six wins in the opening eight races of the season was when Sebastian Vettel coasted his way to the driver's title in 2011.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 150
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 129
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 116
4. George Russell (Mercedes) 99
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 83

Constructors

1. Red Bull 279
2. Ferrari 199
3. Mercedes 161
4. McLaren 65
5. Alpine 47

Charles Leclerc was left struggling for words after Ferrari's recent woes continued as he was forced to retire from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Leclerc claimed pole for the street race in Baku but became the first driver since Juan Pablo Montoya in 2001 to start on pole in four successive races and not win any of them.

An engine failure saw him retire on lap 20, ending any hope of what looked to be a looming battle with championship rival Max Verstappen.

His retirement followed that of team-mate Carlos Sainz on lap nine due to a hydraulics issue, with further worries coming as Ferrari customers Alfa Romeo and Haas saw Zhou Guanyu and Kevin Magnussen end their races early, the latter seemingly due to an engine problem.

Verstappen went on to cruise to a victory that puts him 34 points ahead of Leclerc, with his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez leapfrogging the Monegasque in the standings. Perez leads Leclerc by 13 points.

Ferrari are also 80 points behind Red Bull in the constructors' standings and Leclerc could not hide his disappointment after a second retirement in three races.

"It hurts, we really need to look into that for it not to happen again, I don't really find the right words to describe this," Leclerc told Sky Sports.

"It's very, very disappointing. I don't know.

"We really need to look into it. We've been fast and we didn't have big problems in the first part of the season.

"Now it seems we have a bit more compared to the beginning of the season, but we didn't change massive things, if anything we made the thing better.

"It's difficult to understand for now, we will have to analyse, obviously I don't have the full picture of what happened but just personally again it hurts."

Sainz was slightly more upbeat after his third retirement of the year.

He said to Sky Sports: "It's a bad day for the team, but we need to make sure that we stay together, we stay positive, better days will come and so far the 2022 season is definitely not going my way.

"On my side we've just been terribly unlucky the whole season, it's been quite difficult to get any kind of momentum going this season. I cannot do two consecutive races without anything happening.

"I need laps and I need races to keep understanding the car. It's a shame but we are a team, we're going to stay united, we're going to stay positive because better days will come."

Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes know they must "take a beating" in order to recover the lost ground they trail Red Bull and Ferrari by ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion will start seventh on the grid following another disappoint qualifying session in Baku, while team-mate George Russell will start in fifth.

Mercedes have remained dramatically off the pace of their rivals, with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc sealing a fourth consecutive pole position in his title race with Max Verstappen.

Hamilton – who won on this track in 2018 – admitted he and his team are continuing to draw the same conclusions from their struggles, in what could be a bad omen for their prospects over the rest of the season.

"I'm not surprised [about the gap], I mean it was the same in Monaco," he told Sky Sports. "It was a really difficult qualifying session, we're constantly pushing.

"We have a very, very small window where we can work this car and everything we try doesn't give us what we want.

"So, we're making lots of changes, but we're always out with the same conclusion, which is most often bouncing, which loses us a lot of performance.

"All the performance is when you get the car low… so we said let's take a beating in our necks and backs to get the car as low as possible for the performance."

Russell, who is out to better his best-ever 15th-place finish at the circuit, posted in 2019, suggested improvements were harder to decipher from within the cockpit.

"The lap felt good, the car felt good but obviously it is pretty shocking when you cross the line and you are one and a bit seconds behind pole position," Russell said.

"We expect so much of ourselves and we are working so hard to bring more performance, but definitely this weekend has brought out the strengths and the weaknesses of all of us.

"To be honest, it truly is just not going fast enough.

"It feels ok from within, except when we are going down the straights because every single bump is the most rigid I have ever felt from any race car before.

"In the breaking zones, it is so bumpy down those straights and feels awful from within but through the corners itself the car feels good.

"So we know it isn't a balance thing getting the car in the right window with the set up, it is more we don't have the downforce and we are balancing a lot of limitations to try and get the downforce.

"We know there is a lot there but we don't know how to extract it."

Charles Leclerc is desperate to "finish the job" after surging to pole position for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. 

In Baku on Sunday, the Ferrari driver will start from the front of the grid for the fourth successive grand prix. 

Leclerc has failed to turn each of his previous three pole positions into a victory, something that has become a familiar story for the Monegasque. 

From his 14 pole positions in Formula One, he has managed just four victories (29 per cent) – only Jarno Trulli (25 per cent – one win from four poles) has a worse ratio among drivers to have topped the podium at least once. 

Leclerc is keen to avoid another disappointment and believes upgrades made by Ferrari can help him get over the line this time. 

"I just want to finish the job. The past two weekends I've already said that on the Saturday and it didn't happen on the Sunday," said Leclerc. 

"So, we need to make it… I mean, we don't need to make it work but it will be very nice if we make it work. Let's see how it goes in the first few laps, and then I will try to keep the lead.   

"I think since we have the new package, we've tried different things. And from my feeling it feels better in the race. But we still need to confirm it. But the feeling is there and it's good, so I'm optimistic." 

Verstappen qualified third for the second successive Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Last year he crashed out from the lead with three laps remaining, handing Sergio Perez the win. 

The reigning champion does not expect to make his move early but still believes he will be in with a good shot of a fourth victory in five races. 

"I think last year I started third here, so a lot of things happen. If you have good pace, I do think you can do something out there in the race," said Verstappen. 

"We'll just look through the data to optimise everything and make sure that the car is good on the tyres. 

"The run to Turn 1 is super short, so there's not a lot you can do there, but it's a long race. Baku has shown that a lot of things happen. We just need to stay calm and focus on having a good race car." 

Charles Leclerc stormed to pole position for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, surprising himself by getting the better of the Red Bulls.

Leclerc produced a sensational final lap in Baku to become the first Ferrari driver since Michael Schumacher in 2001 to record six pole positions in the first eight races of a season. 

He was almost three tenths of a second faster than Sergio Perez, who pipped team-mate Max Verstappen to a place on the front row. 

"It feels good. Obviously all poles feel good, but this one I did not expect because in Q1 and Q2 I really struggled to see that we could be faster," said Leclerc. 

"In the last lap everything came together and I managed to do good, so I'm extremely happy. 

"I'm really excited for [the race]. Tyre management is a big thing here. In Barcelona and Monaco we were managing it well but overall our race pace has gone a step up since we brought in the upgrades." 

Championship leader Verstappen was disappointed to miss out on a place on the front row but is confident Red Bull will be able to challenge for the win on Sunday. 

"I think the start was good, then it went away from me a little bit with tiny mistakes," said Verstappen. 

"It's not ideal but in general I was just struggling to find balance over one lap. It's not what I want but being second and third the team has a good opportunity. 

"We'll find out tomorrow, but we maybe seem to lack a bit of pace over one lap but in the long run we should be quite good." 

Perez, who experienced an issue in the garage in Q3, said: "On the first run of Q3 is when you go all out. I hit the wall a couple of times – luckily we managed to survive, which is the key here. 

"We had a problem with the engine at the end, we couldn't turn it on. We lost a few tenths, but I think Charles has done a very good job. 

"It's a very long race ahead, so we just have to make sure we are there. You can make a mistake at any point and that's it." 

Lewis Hamilton could only qualify seventh and was facing an investigation for driving unnecessarily slowly in Q2.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:41.359
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.282s
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.347s
4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.455s
5. George Russell (Mercedes) +1.353s
6. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +1.486s
7. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +1.565s
8. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) +1.697s
9. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +1.732s
10. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +1.814s

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