Charles Leclerc gave it his all on the windy city street circuit of Baku, starting from pole position for the first time in 2023. However, this would not be enough to win the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Having lead the pack away when the lights went down, Leclerc was able to enjoy his lead for almost four whole laps, before Max Verstappen made light work of passing the Monegasque in his less-than-ideal Ferrari on the fourth lap.

It was then the turn of Sergio Perez to surge past Leclerc, and the Mexican did so, joining his Red Bull teammate at the front of the field as both drivers enjoyed the superior pace that their cars afforded them.

The race was now between the Red Bulls, as Verstappen and Perez took turns to set the fastest lap time while in pursuit of each other. Verstappen wrongly pitted just before a Safety Car arrived on track to cover a beached AlphaTauri driven by fellow Dutchman Nick de Vries. It was during the SC period that Perez then pitted, a perfect window of opportunity to switch to hard tyres and take the lead.

As the race of the Red Bulls ensued, Leclerc struggled on in his tyre-shredding Ferrari, now holding off the advances of Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin instead of chasing down the rapid RB duo up front.

At the end of a fairly standard Formula 1 race, Perez crossed the line first, ahead of his cross teammate Verstappen in second place. Completing the podium in third place on this occasion was Leclerc, who got up on the podium for the first time this season, a stark contrast to the Scuderia’s performance last year.

With Azerbaijan ticked off for another year, the F1 circus will already be packing their bags as they prepare to fly across the world to the United States to race in the Miami GP on Sunday, May 7.

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez celebrates on the podium after winning the race REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger