Sergio Perez has admitted he is slightly concerned about Ferrari’s one-lap pace around Baku after the Italian outfit managed to secure their first pole position of the season.
Charles Leclerc capitalised on an improved performance to take pole position in the sprint race and grand prix in Azerbaijan, with Ferrari hoping this is the start of a comeback for the team.
“It was a tricky session in the end,” Perez told F1 TV prior to the Sprint race.
“I think just having a little bit more of a clean run on my lap will have helped me probably to get pole, with Charles hitting the wall, but they’re just a bit stronger than us in over one lap.
“So hopefully this afternoon we are able to close the gap and beat them on race pace.”
However, despite Perez’s fears, Ferrari failed to capitalise on their P1 start, with the Mexican gliding past Leclerc due to the impressive speed of the RB19.
Verstappen would have likely surpassed Leclerc too if it hadn’t been for the damage he incurred on the side of his car after making contact with George Russell early on in the race.
Russell and Verstappen tussled in the early stages of the race, with the Mercedes causing damage to the sidepod of the Red Bull.
Despite constant complaints from Verstappen and an angry confrontation between the Dutchman and the Brit post-race, Russell was not penalised for the incident.
Going into Sunday’s race, Verstappen remains the title-leader, while Perez is hot on his heals, only 13 points behind his teammate.
Red Bull has a clear lead in the Constructors’ race, having won all three feature races so far and the sprint race around Baku.
Given the pace of the RB19, it is likely that, pending a strong fight from Leclerc, Sunday’s race will go their way as well, with both Verstappen and Perez ready to take on the Monegasque.