Monday, April 15, 2024

Max Verstappen: “We just need to try and get a good start into the weekend”

Championship leader Max Verstappen says he is eager to get back racing after the four-week break as he bids to further extend his advantage at the top of the standings this weekend in Azerbaijan.

Verstappen took his second victory in three races last time out in Australia and also won in Azerbaijan last year, but with it being a sprint race weekend, he is expecting it to be more of a chaotic three days at the Baku City Circuit.

The twenty drivers will only get one hour of free practice before the important sessions get underway this weekend, and the Oracle Red Bull Racing driver says they will need to have a ‘solid’ session to prepare enough for Qualifying later in the day.

“It’s good to be back!” said Verstappen.  “It’s been a long break and I’m looking forward to getting back to racing.

“Baku is a challenging track to get right. As it’s a street circuit with long straights, it gives us multiple options on what wings we can run. It’s also the first Sprint race weekend of the season so that might make it slightly chaotic.

“We just need to try and get a good start into the weekend with a solid FP1 session. Let’s see what we can do.”

“Everyone knows I really enjoy a street circuit” – Sergio Pérez

Team-mate Sergio Pérez is a former winning in Baku with Red Bull, and the Mexican is bidding to return to the podium this weekend after missing out last time out in Australia.

A problem in Qualifying left Pérez at the back of the field, but he stayed pretty much out of trouble despite chaos ensuing around him to claim fifth place and keep himself close to Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship standings.

Pérez knows the importance of having a clean weekend, and he will be hoping for one this weekend in Azerbaijan.  And with the Mexican’s impressive track record around street circuits, his confidence is high that he can secure a second victory of the season on Sunday afternoon.

“It feels like ages since we have been racing!” said Pérez.  “It has been nice to have a break, to work hard in the gym and with my Team at the factory. You must take advantage of these moments away from the track, especially when you see how busy the period is coming up.

“Australia wasn’t perfect for us, having the car and performance consistent is my aim this season. For two races we had that and now as a Team we must make sure that’s the standard we keep to for the remaining races of the season.

“We have five races in six weeks and after that, with the mix of circuits we are visiting, we are really going to see how good the RB19 can be this year. We had a great Team result in Baku last season and everyone knows I really enjoy a street circuit – winning is always the aim.

“The new weekend format is going to make things tricky when it comes to car set-up but every team is in the same position and we just have to make sure we are on it from the minute we roll out on Friday. I can’t wait to get back in the car now.”

Sergio Pérez is aiming for victory in Azerbaijan – Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images