Azerbaijan GP review: Perez setting records and Leclerc is Ferrari's star boy

Published on 2 May 2023 at 20:00

Megan Taylor

Lights were out, and away they went at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The new schedule shook up our usual Grand Prix weekend, delivering even more action-packed racing.


Free practice 1 was chaotic. A red flag was waved, caused by Gasly's hydraulic leak in his Alpine and Magnussen losing power in his Hass. Tsunoda clipped his type resulting in him limping it back to the pits. He wasn’t the only one, though; multiple drivers had run-ins with Buku’s tight corners.

Qualifying took place on Friday, giving the drivers only 60 minutes to familiarise themselves with the track. For the first time this season, Ferrari had pole position, with Charles Leclerc taking the front row ahead of the Red Bulls.


The sprint race shoot out saw Sargeant out in Q1 for Williams. Remarkably Charles Leclerc set the fastest time despite crashing into the wall.


The sprint race included both a yellow flag and a safety car. Verstappen and Russell had contact, leaving Verstappen furious with the Mercedes driver for ‘not leaving room’ and Russell defending that he had ‘no grip.’

On lap 7, Perez overtook the pole position holder Leclerc and earned the maximum 8 points from the sprint race.


The Azerbaijan weekend saw the same three drivers in the top three across the qualifying, sprint shoot out, sprint and the main race. Charles Leclerc earned himself pole position in Qualifying but finished in a respectable third place, behind Verstappen and the street circuit specialist Sergio Perez.


Sergio Perez was delighted with his win. He is the first driver to win more than once in Baku and added the trophy to his last 4, which were all on street circuits. He expressed his gratitude and praised his team for how proud he was of them. The Grand Prix winner went on to say:

“I can only think back to the problems we had in Melbourne. I think without those; we should be leading the championship.”

His teammate and 2-time world champion, Max Verstappen, classed himself ‘unlucky’ with the safety car coming out after he pitted. He couldn’t get back into the DRS (Drag reduction system) zone. And just like the other drivers, the heat was not good with the tyres. However, he came out second on the podium and, between the two, secured the maximum points for the constructor's championship.


During this Grand Prix weekend, we’ve seen significant progress from Ferrari. In the past, being known as a good qualifying car but struggling in the races, it is up to them to improve. Red Bull might be too big a challenge to them right now, but Aston Martin and Mercedes are their focused overtakes.


It was Ferrari’s highest finish so far this season. However, both drivers weren’t entirely happy with their performance. In a post-race interview, Charles Leclerc said:

“I am here to win, and third is not what I want. Aston Martin and Red Bull are quicker than us, and we need to work on it.”

His teammate, Carlos Sainz, revealed he had “No confidence to push.” In an interview with Formula 1. The Spanish driver agreed with Leclerc that they need to work on their pace if they want to compete with Red Bull and Aston Martin.

Luckily for all Formula 1 fans, we don’t have long to wait for the next Grand Prix. The united states Grand Prix starts on the 5th of May in sunny Miami. Who will be on the temporary circuit this weekend?

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