Max Verstappen heads into Azerbaijan nine points clear of Charles Leclerc at the top of the drivers’ standings, the reigning champion now looking to make up for a devastating retirement that cost him a maiden Baku victory in 2021…
The Red Bull driver looked set to take a comfortable victory in 2021 before a tyre issue sent him into the barriers at high speed, with just five laps of the race remaining – team mate Sergio Perez going on to win the Grand Prix.
“I’m looking forward to returning to Baku, we have some unfinished business there after last year,” said Verstappen. “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,” he added.
Team mate Perez took his first victory of the season last time out in Monaco and soon came the news that his contract with the team had been extended until the end of 2024.
“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.
“I can only say that I am happy and very grateful for the opportunity. Today I think I am in the best moment of my career and driving for a team that always seeks perfection, which is the perfect match for me and for any driver.
“The championship fight is really tight, so we need to be totally focused,” continued Perez. “It was very special winning my first race with the team in Baku last season, it brought me great joy.
“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.”