Perez ‘totally focused’ as he looks to jump Leclerc and Verstappen for championship lead

Sergio Perez won last year's Azerbaijan Grand Prix, and claimed victory last time out in Monaco.

Fresh off his victory in Monaco a fortnight ago, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez is looking to continue his championship momentum going into the eighth round of the season in Baku.

Perez claimed the second win of his career and his first with Red Bull in Azerbaijan last year, and he has generally gone reasonably well at street circuits so far in 2022, taking pole in Jeddah before finishing on the podium in Australia.

His win in Monte Carlo epitomised the excellent improvements the Mexican has made since last year, so he cannot wait to get going this weekend with a new contract under his belt.

“I was very happy to extend my stay with the team until at least 2024, that tells you the great work we have done together and how happy we are with each other,” said Perez in Red Bull’s team preview of the race.

“It was very special winning my first race with the team in Baku last season. 

“I think I am in the best moment of my career and driving for a team that always seeks perfection

“The championship fight is really tight, so we need to be totally focused.

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“I like street circuits because it is where the driver can really make the difference, of course it is easier to make a mistake when you’re trying to go on the limit, but at the end of the day that is what gives you the tenths you need to be competitive.”

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Perez’s win last year came after Max Verstappen was comfortably leading proceedings, but suffered a scary, race-ending puncture on the home straight.

Sir Lewis Hamilton made an error on his brake settings on the subsequent red flag restart, leaving the 32-year-old to claim victory, so Verstappen is eager to set the record straight this time around.

“I’m looking forward to returning to Baku, we have some unfinished business there after last year,” explained the reigning champion.

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“It’s a tricky track with big braking zones and a tight run off, finding the best set-up for the car will be difficult in terms of making sure we get the correct wing level.

“It will also be interesting to see if we can make our one lap performance better for qualifying as we’ve been lacking a little.”

Verstappen leads the Drivers’ Championship by nine points from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Perez a further six points back in third.