Azerbaijan GP: Preview - Red Bull


How does it feel to have secured the Monaco race win and to lead the championship for the first time in your Formula One career?
Max Verstappen: It was a very good weekend and of course I've never stood on the podium there before so it was very nice to get the win. Taking the lead in the championship feels good but we need to be there at the end of the final race, that's all that matters. Where we are now feels good and of course it shows that we had a decent start to the year but we have to keep on pushing because we still need to improve and do better. Nobody is ever perfect or standing still in this sport. So far we have made the smallest mistakes but nothing major and that is why we are first at the moment but we all know it can change very quickly.

Apart from the win, what sticks out from the Monaco weekend?
MV: We struggled on Thursday in practice but the Team put a lot of work into making sure that the car was a lot better on Saturday. At the start of the weekend we didn't have it quite right and it wasn't all easy, but everyone analysed the data very well and made the car very competitive again for qualifying so we could be in the fight.

It's also very easy to make a mistake around Monaco, you have to keep focussed lap after lap, but last Sunday it felt really good to be leading the race and controlling it. I was not going to throw away my first Monaco win that's for sure.

Moving on to Baku, is it a circuit that you enjoy and what are you expecting from the RB16B?
MV: The track is ok but probably not a favourite of mine if I'm honest. I've never been on the podium there so it's time to change that. Let's see how competitive we are, I do expect Mercedes to come back strong there though.

Looking back on Monaco, how happy are you with the result given where you started and how hard it is to gain positions there?
Sergio Perez: I'm happy that in the end we managed to have a good result, especially given where we qualified after a poor Saturday.

Sunday's race was the quickest Monaco Grand Prix in history. Mentally, just how hard is it to stay focused and concentrated for those 78 laps and stay out of the barriers?
SP: It was very tough mentally. As always, Monaco is just hard to keep the car out of the walls whilst being on the limit. Especially you need to know when to push and when not to, that is the key! The result on Sunday is a big boost for the Team and we're definitely looking forwards to keeping it up there, but we cannot forget that it's only race five of the season and there's still a very long way to go.

The next race in Baku is another circuit you've been on the podium at. Do you enjoy this race and will it play to our strengths?
SP: I'm really looking forward to Baku and I hope we can put a strong qualifying together because we've proved that our race pace is right up there with the best. We just have to improve our Saturdays and then we should be fine.

Now we're in the lead of the constructors' championship, does it add any additional pressure? Or does it give us added confidence?
SP: It doesn't change anything. We have to stay realistic and know that it's race five of the season. It doesn't matter where we are now, it only matters where we end up at the end of the season in Abu Dhabi. We need to keep our heads down and continue working as hard as we have been doing in the past months.

• Red Bull Racing Honda are leading the Drivers' and Constructors World Championships for the first time since 2013.

• Baku is the only unique circuit layout on which Checo has twice finished on the podium prior to 2021. He has also been on the podium twice in Bahrain, but on different layouts. Baku is also the only circuit on which he has finished on the podium more times than Max Verstappen (2 to 1).

• Red Bull Racing were the winners of the first Azerbaijan Grand Prix in 2017 (the first race held in Baku was the 2016 European GP), thanks to Daniel Ricciardo's victory.

• Turn 15 of the Baku City Circuit is near to the Deniz Mall, which will host the Red Bull Cliff Diving event on October 16. The 85 km/h entry speed of turn 15 is approximately the same entry speed as will be experienced by the divers as they jump indoors into the 12-metre-wide pool.

• At 28 metres below sea level, Baku is the lowest-lying capital city in the world and the lowest-lying F1 venue. If Max Verstappen wins here he will complete a unique double, having won in Mexico City in both 2017 and 2018 at an altitude of 2,240 metres.

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Published: 31/05/2021
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