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Leclerc: Red Bulls in another league

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While Ferrari hailed what was indeed a team morale-boosting, first podium of the season, by Charles Leclerc, however after the race in Baku the driver himself lamented the fact that he was so well beaten by the pair of Red Bulls “in another league” at the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Leclerc was stellar in both qualifying sessions, for the Sprint on Saturday and the GP a day later, because he is such a good one-lap specialist, which could translate to a 51-lap specialist, for a race such as Sunday’s if the Scuderia had a car with race pace to do service to his immense abilities.

But in the race, it was the same old story. Afterwards, in post-race parc ferme, the Ferrari driver acknowledged the superiority of the Red Bulls: “Yeah, again they are in another league once it comes to race. A really good lap managed to put us in front but over 51 laps it was just not possible they have so much more pace than we do race pace.”

Leclerc convinced Red Bull have found something extra

The Ferrari driver continued: “I think they found something that we haven’t yet and that’s where our focus is at the moment. Everyone is working flat out to try and understand what we can do in the races especially to just get some more performance.

“Honestly the feeling is a little bit better but when I see the gap and I’m pretty sure that when you have this type of gap you are not pushing 100%. We don’t really know how much we are closing the gap, the feeling is a little bit better but also the Aston Martin was really quick so we still have a lot of work,” insisted Leclerc.

His only threat of a podium came briefly from former Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso late in the race but to no avail, as Leclerc had him covered: “Yeah, he was pushing, I mean what his intentions were at the beginning because he always tries to keep the tyres at the beginning of the stint and tries at the end. I tried the same and in the end it was close but not enough for Fernando.”

Sainz: A very difficult weekend

While fifth place by Carlos Sainz meant a handy double points score, he was disappointing this weekend in which he was comprehensively outmatched by his teammate on outright pace and in the race too, which will have the Spaniard’s side of the garage scratching their heads.

Of course, in a sport where you are measured first against your teammate, thus no surprise that the ten points hall on the day did not make Sainz happy: “A very difficult weekend. P5 brings home some points but I must put my hand up and admit I lacked confidence under braking and the pace was not there.

“On the Medium tyre I could push a bit more, but with the harder compound I simply didn’t feel the car. Now I look forward to a reset, as Miami is just around the corner and I can’t wait to jump in the car again and keep pushing,” added Sainz.

Heading to Miami for Round 5 this forthcoming weekend, the 2023 F1 World Championship standings make for bleak reading for Mercedes and their fans:

2023 f1 standings after Round 4 Azerbaijan gp F1 baku verstappen red bull lead