Max Verstappen lashes out at Red Bull in Azerbaijan

Charles Leclerc ended Red Bull’s 2023 dominance by snatching pole from title-leader Max Verstappen, as Ferrari mount a comeback.

Max Verstappen has blamed Red Bull for his failure to secure pole in Azerbaijan after the Dutchman was beaten into P2 by just 0.188 seconds.

Charles Leclerc secured Ferrari’s first pole position of the 2023 season, showing signs of a comeback for the Italian team that has struggled to find its form this year.

After the first run in Q3, Leclerc and Verstappen were locked in a tight battle, setting identical times but it would be the Monegasque who would eventually prevail, edging ahead of the Dutchman in the closing stages of qualifying.

“It is always tough around here to put a whole lap together,” Verstappen said.

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“Also, on the second run, we tried something different on the out-lap which maybe wasn’t ideal for the lap time at the end.

“But around here it is really hard. In Q3, you are on the limit and trying to make everything perfect is not the easiest. But nevertheless, we are P2, we know we have a very good race car so all in all, it is not bad.

“Of course, you want to start ahead but we will have to pass one car.”

Verstappen’s luck might change on Sunday though, as the Red Bull’s race pace has proven far superior to Ferrari’s in the opening three races of the season.

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With Sergio Perez lined up behind Verstappen, the Red Bull duo might be able to pressure Leclerc into a mistake or glide past him on the straight, something that Leclerc is well aware of.

The Ferrari driver has warned his team to not get ahead of themselves despite a strong qualifying that saw Carlos Sainz line up in P4.

Leclerc told reporters after the race that he is conscious of the strong performance Red Bull has continuously showed this season.

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“We must not forget that our race car is maybe still behind the Red Bull so it will be difficult to keep the lead,” Leclerc explained.

With the new sprint race format, Leclerc will have two opportunities to score crucial points in Baku.

Leclerc will certainly be hoping for a better performance than Australia, which saw him record his second DNF of the season when he was hit into the gravel by Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin.