Leclerc concedes Red Bull in 'another league' after Perez wins in Baku

By Sports Desk April 30, 2023

Charles Leclerc conceded Red Bull are in "another league" after Sergio Perez triumphed at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday.

Perez was the fastest in Saturday's sprint and managed to stave off the pursuit of Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen the following day in Baku, the Spaniard claiming his second win of the season.

Leclerc finished in third and the Ferrari driver acknowledged Red Bull are way ahead at present.

"Red Bull are in another league when it comes to the race," he told Sky Sports. "A very good [qualifying] lap managed to put us in front but over 51 laps it was just not possible, they have so much [more] pace than us in race pace. They found something that we didn't yet.

"The feeling is a little bit better but when I see the gap, we don't really know how much we closed the gap. The Aston Martin was also really quick so we have some work to do."

Red Bull are the seventh team in F1 history to have won the first four races of a campaign, with the victories split evenly between Perez and Verstappen.

They have now surpassed Mercedes as the team with the most wins in Baku as the individual battle between team-mates Perez and Verstappen continues to play out.

World champion Verstappen pushed throughout the race but was unable to usurp Perez, who lauded his control when leading the charge.

"It really worked out today for us," Perez said on Sky Sports. "We managed to stay in the DRS train and keep the pressure on Max. 

"I think we had better degradation on that first stint. I think it was very close between us, we pushed to the maximum today, we both clipped the wall a few times.

"The way Max pushed me today was really hard but we managed to keep in control."

Verstappen had the lead after the third lap before clipping the wall on Turn 4, which allowed Perez to overtake, before the Dutchman pitted just before a safety car was deployed.

He labelled that decision to pit as "unlucky", before adding to Sky Sports: "I think the tyres were overheating a bit because of that, trying to follow. 

"Also, the balance, I was struggling to be really consistent, I was playing around with the tools a little bit. Once I got that sorted, I'd say the last 10 laps were actually quite good again, but just a little bit too late.

"A lot of things learnt again throughout the race, at the end of the day, a good team result."

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