Charles Leclerc steals Sergio Perez’s seat

Charles Leclerc's podium in Azerbaijan was Ferrari's first of the 2023 F1 season.

Charles Leclerc enjoyed his best weekend of the season so far at last weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix; however, the Ferrari driver did admit after finishing third that it was the “loneliest race” of his career.

It certainly wasn’t a race that will be remembered anytime soon, given how little action unfolded for multiple reasons.

Overtaking was a rarity on Sunday at the Baku City Circuit, with all the drivers having worked tirelessly to make a one-stop strategy work, whilst they also faced struggles following one another.

Despite this, both Red Bull drivers overtook Leclerc, who started from pole position for the third consecutive year in Azerbaijan.

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Red Bull’s straight-line speed was simply too much for Leclerc to deal with, resulting in him finishing 21 seconds behind Perez.

Despite this, the Monegasque and the Mexican had a comical moment ahead of the podium celebrations, after Leclerc suddenly realised that he was sitting in the seat designated for the race winner, whilst watching the uneventful highlights.

“Do you want your seat?” Leclerc asked Perez in the cooldown room after recognising he was sitting in the winner’s seat.

“No, no, It’s good,” replied Perez, who then sat in Leclerc’s actual seat.

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“Let me have it at least. At least the seat,” joked Leclerc.

Despite being overtaken by Perez and Max Verstappen, Leclerc certainly enjoyed a strong weekend in Baku, with the 25-year-old having also finished second on Saturday in the first sprint race of the season.

He started on pole for that as well, highlighting that one lap pace isn’t an issue for Ferrari.

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Race pace certainly is a weakness, though, with Leclerc recognising after the race that they “have to work” on it.

“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,” Leclerc said.

“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 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.”