Scuderia Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc crossed the line in third place at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, unable to convert his pole position after struggling to defend against the dominant pace of Red Bull Racing on race day.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen were able to take control of the race after swiftly overtaking Leclerc within the first six laps. With this, Leclerc said that improving the race pace of SF-23 is a priority.
“We are still not quite there in terms of race pace and we know that’s what we have to work on the most at the moment.”
Having taken pole position for both the sprint and Grand Prix and achieved his first podium of the season, Leclerc said he was happy with his results in Baku and the support of his team throughout the weekend.
“We maximised every session throughout the weekend and couldn’t have done anything differently, so that’s something to be happy about and the team did a great job.”
The areas for improvement for the team are clear to Leclerc, with development at top of mind going into the Miami Grand Prix and beyond.
“The bottom line is that we have to focus on race pace and tyre management and push to make even more progress in the coming races.”
“This has been a very difficult weekend” – Carlos Sainz
Ultimately finishing in fifth place, Team-mate Carlos Sainz admitted that his weekend in Baku was a tough one, feeling uncomfortable with braking at Baku City Circuit and struggling to find pace in his SF-23.
“This has been a very difficult weekend. P5 brings home some points but I must put my hand up and admit I lacked confidence under braking and the pace was not there.”
The safety car restart in the beginning stage of the race saw Sainz lose his starting position of fourth place to Fernando Alonso, who would remain ahead for the remainder of the fifty-one lap race.
Sainz said that his troubles came primarily with the use of the hard compound, which he ran for the final forty laps of the race. Looking to put this weekend in his rearview, the Spanish driver is excited to start out fresh in Miami.
“On the Medium tyre I could push a bit more, but with the harder compound I simply didn’t feel the car. Now I look forward to a reset, as Miami is just around the corner and I can’t wait to jump in the car again and keep pushing.”