Verstappen relaxed in Baku: Better than last!

Max Verstappen will start Sunday's 2023 Azerbaijan GP from second on the grid

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Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was relaxed about the weekend ahead despite missing out on pole position for the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

After dominating qualifying in the opening three rounds of the 2023 F1 season, Red Bull’s reign of dominance was halted when Charles Leclerc secured pole position for Ferrari in Baku, pipping Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

“It’s not bad it’s better than last!” joked Verstappen to the media.  “It’s been alright it’s tough to put the whole lap together around here, and the last run in Q3 maybe wasn’t the cleanest.

“We tried a different out-lap, I didn’t feel it was better. When you have that feeling, you’re not as confident as the lap before. “I think that’s why the lap didn’t come out [better]. 

“But at the end of the day, it’s also not bad for us we know we have a quick race car, and we have to try and use that on Sunday, we’ll wait and see what we can do tomorrow.”

Pays tribute to confident Leclerc

For Verstappen’s old karting rival, pole position in Baku couldn’t have come at a better time for Leclerc after a month of upheaval at the Maranello-based outfit following a turbulent start to the 2023 F1 season.

On Wednesday, it was announced the team would be losing its sporting director Laurent Mekies to AlphaTauri at the end of the season, with Leclerc’s future at Ferrari a cause for intense speculation.

“We know he’s really good around here,” said Verstappen. “Otherwise, you don’t get three poles, he felt good today.

“He always has a lot of confidence which is good. Around here, you get everything out of [the car], and that’s why he put it on pole.”

Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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