Red Bull on P2 and P3 in Azerbaijan: “All in all, it’s not bad”

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Championship leaders Red Bull were forced to take a step back today in Baku. After having scored all three pole positions available in 2023 so far, today Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc set the fastest time in Q3, leaving them in P2 and P3.

It will be, however, Max Verstappen’s first front row in Baku, with the two times world champion left with a positive feeling after the first qualifying session of the weekend:

“It’s always tough around here to really put the whole lap together. I think also on the second run we tried something different on the out lap, which maybe was not ideal for the lap time ahead.”

Earlier this morning Verstappen and Leclerc had fought for the best time in the only practice session of the weekend, with the Dutch driver managing to end in the top spot by a very small margin. In Q3 instead, the Ferrari driver had a gap of 0.180s on Verstappen, who is still feeling hopeful for a better outcome in the actual race.

“Around here it’s really hard. In Q3 you’re on the limit and trying to make everything perfect, it’s not the easiest. But nevertheless, we are P2, we know we have a very good race car, so all in all it’s not bad. Of course, you always want to start ahead, but we have to pass one car.”

The championship leader is excited to test out the new Sprint Weekend format, especially as it will give him another opportunity to score his first pole position at this track:

“I’m looking forward to it, to see what we can do there. Maybe we can find a few little things to do better, but overall, it was just about keeping it clean.

“It’s super easy around here to make a mistake and that’s what we don’t want to do, and then we will see tomorrow.”

P2 man in the drivers‘ standings Sergio Perez wasn’t completely satisfied with his run either, as he said to Sky Sports after the race:

It started pretty tricky in Q1 with the amount of red flags, and then sticking to the same set, you don’t want to waste anymore sets in Q1, so that was difficult with the warm-up.

“Just to get through without making mistakes, without much practice, it was really challenging. I think the team has done a great job,” he added, stressing the hardships encountered in Q1 with the two red flags issued for De Vries and Gasly’s crashes.

The 2021 Azerbaijian GP winner was hoping to find his second pole position of the season, but will instead start from the second row on Sunday.

“I’m a bit disappointed to be sitting P3. I felt definitely there was more in it, my lap wasn’t that clean. But if there’s a place where you can race, it’s definitely here.”

Asked about Ferrari’s positive afternoon, Perez wasn’t surprised by the Italian Scuderia’s and especially Charles Leclerc’s performance, as he considered them his main rival for the weekend even before the beginning of the racing weekend at Baku:

“We knew they were going to be very strong; they are very efficient. We knew coming here the Ferrari was going to be the biggest threat to us, and I think Charles has done a tremendous lap as well,” he concluded, praising his rival for P2 in the drivers’ standings last year.

Photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool