What does Baku mean for Charles Leclerc?
By: Leona Stewart
Since the season began in Bahrain, Charles Leclerc and Ferrari have been called for the championship, and fans thought it was his year. Yet we are moving onto round 8 and Charles has slipped into second in the championship behind Max Verstappen.
Following on from a disappointing home race in Monaco, Leclerc moves on to another street circuit in Azerbaijan, which has always been an exciting race.
Having never had a consistent winner, pole-sitter or fastest lap, Baku is certainly hard to predict for all teams, and with strategy not yet clear the win is anyone.
Ferrari has never won in Baku, however both Red Bull and Mercedes have. With Perez claiming a win here last year, and Leclerc holding the fastest lap record since 2019, it could shape up to be interesting between the two.
Looking at previous races here, pole position does not seem to be vital to a race win. with only two drivers, Nico Rosberg and Valterri Bottas, having won from pole in Baku.
Deemed as a mix of Monaco and Monza, Azerbaijan is littered with space for overtakes across its 20 turns and two DRS zones. One on the pit-straight and the second coming out of turn 1 provides the chance for drivers to fight for positions before being hit with slow tight corners, perfect for the last of the late brakers.
The pressure truly is on Charles to win this weekend. With Verstappen leading the championship, and Perez’ win in Monaco pushing him ever closer up the board, a win is vital to keep his second place. Particularly as Perez is only 15 points away from leading ahead of his teammate, the three-way fight is exciting.
Max Verstappen is currently the bookies favorite to win the race, particularly as he was set to win last year if it wasn’t for a crash with 5 laps remaining. Charles of course is the second.
After a disastrous weekend in Monaco for the Ferrari boys which left them trailing behind Red Bull, it truly is hard to predict if Leclerc will be able to regain his lead in Baku. Perhaps the championship will continue to fade in front of him.