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What the teams said – Sprint day in Azerbaijan

Special Contributor

Becky Hart
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - APRIL 29: Esteban Ocon of France driving the (31) Alpine F1 A523 Renault in the

Red Bull

Perez couldn’t fight his way past Leclerc off the line, but he did so midway through the Sprint with a DRS-aided move into Turn 1. From there, he controlled the pace at the front and never looked under any pressure as he picked up the maximum points on offer. Verstappen had a much busier time of it though, as he tangled with Russell on the first lap and sustained some sidepod damage for his troubles. He managed to get back past the Mercedes at the Safety Car restart, but with a damaged car, couldn’t chase down Leclerc for second.

READ MORE: Verstappen and Russell at odds after dramatic first-lap Sprint skirmish in Baku

Max Verstappen, 3rd

"It was a bit of a messy first lap and then with the damage I think it was a bit tricky to pull forward throughout the rest of the Sprint. I think overall third was fine, and to manage the damage that we had, we did alright. I need to look into the data to see how much the damage affected the race today, but it’s never ideal to have a hole in the car. Looking ahead to tomorrow, we have a good race car, you could see that today with Checo’s performance. I think the most important thing tomorrow is to stay out of trouble and I think we can go for the win."

Sergio Perez, 1st

"It was key to make sure we had good pace, good rhythm and that we pushed in the key moments of the race, that really made the difference today. I had to push quite hard initially to get past Charles, especially at the restart because on the first lap I could see he had good pace and very good mechanical grip. Later on, I was able to make the move early enough and that to me was important. In the end I think it was a really nicely executed race and it’s been a great weekend from the whole Team so far. I am really proud of my Team because we have come back from a four week gap and then straight into a new format. We have done a tremendous job but tomorrow is what matters and we must focus on that now. I am confident I will be fighting for the win tomorrow but let’s see, it is Baku and anything can happen! I just have to make sure I deliver when it happens."

Christian Horner, Team Principal

"Hard racing today. There was unfortunately some contact which resulted in quite a bit of damage to the side pod and that cost Max in performance. Tomorrow is what it is about though. Max starts on the front row and with a very good chance. Hes a very competitive driver and will come back strong tomorrow afternoon. By contrast, Checo had a much better race. He didn’t put a foot wrong. He was sensible on the first lap and wanted to get the job done quickly so he could focus on managing the tyres. He had a blinding middle sector on the second lap, made the pass and was able to eek out a gap. Then once he broke Charles’s DRS he was able to bring it home from there. Fantastic driving and a well deserved win."

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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - APRIL 29: Sprint winner Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing talks with Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner in parc ferme during the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at Baku City Circuit on April 29, 2023 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Dan Mullan - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Ferrari

Leclerc managed to make it two poles in two days in the Shootout, despite breaking his front wing at the end of Q3. Leaping away from the line, Leclerc managed to hold onto the lead in the early stages but struggling with tyre degradation, he dropped off the back of Perez once the Mexican found his way past. As for Sainz, he started fifth and finished fifth, just about managing to hold Alonso at bay.

READ MORE: Leclerc encouraged by clear Ferrari ‘step forward’ despite losing out to Perez in Baku Sprint

Charles Leclerc, 2nd

"I wanted to go for the win but at the same time, we knew that it would be difficult due to the race pace advantage Red Bull Racing have. It’s where we are lacking and what we are focusing on improving the most. On the positive side, we have a strong qualifying pace and have made a good step in the right direction since our last race in Australia. Let’s see what is possible tomorrow."

Carlos Sainz, 5th

"This weekend has not been an easy one for me but we’ll keep going at it. We managed to bring home some points and I’ll try to build from there.

"Hopefully, having completed more laps today, tomorrow I can work around the main limitations and maximise the result. The weekend is not over yet and in Baku you need to be ready to grab every opportunity, so now it’s maximum focus until the race is over."

Fred Vasseur, Team Principal

"When you start from pole and don’t bring home the win, you cannot be totally satisfied with the outcome. Having said that, Charles and Carlos produced the race we expected and delivered a good result.

"In Melbourne, we saw we had made progress and I think that so far this weekend, that has also been confirmed here. In qualifying trim we were quicker than Red Bull and in the race, we were able to fight with Perez and Verstappen, even if we saw there is still some work to do in terms of pace.

"Today, we’ve been able to try the Medium tyres and run the car with a heavier fuel load, which produced some useful data for us to analyse with the aim of getting even more out of our package tomorrow, when Charles again starts from pole position."

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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - APRIL 29: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-23 leads Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 on track during the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at Baku City Circuit on April 29, 2023 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Mercedes

Russell managed to out-qualify his team mate in the Shootout, and made a great start on the medium tyres. He nipped down the inside of Verstappen, the two drivers making contact as he forced his way through. But the Red Bull was able to get back past at the restart, and from there Russell had a lonely afternoon. As for Hamilton, he tried a move on Sainz and ran wide, which allowed old foe Alonso to nip through. Hamilton couldn’t hang on to the back of the Spaniard and had to settle for seventh.

READ MORE: Verstappen and Russell at odds after dramatic first-lap Sprint skirmish in Baku

Lewis Hamilton, 7th

"I like that we're trying something new with this format. The extra qualifying session was fun. The sprint race was less exciting but that's probably because I was struggling. It wasn't ideal losing the position to Alonso. It's never great going backwards but that's motor racing sometimes. I didn't have the pace of the cars ahead of me, but I know why that is now, from having the Sprint. It's a good indicator of what the problem is in terms of set-up, so we'll look into it and hopefully make some improvements tomorrow. It's going to be tough, but anything can happen."

George Russell, 4th

"The move on the first lap with Max was on and I wasn't going to hold back. I am here to fight and win. I was surprised he was still trying to hold it out around the outside, as there's always a risk. I was doing my best to have a clean fight, but we made contact. That's racing.

"The car felt OK today, we just don't have enough speed. We know we've got work to do for tomorrow's race. I'll be starting further back, but the race pace looked good. I'll being doing my best to carve my way through. Hopefully I can have a clean start, stay out of trouble and from there, it's a long race with potentials for red flags and Safety Cars. Anything can happen so we will see."

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"P4 was a very solid result for the performance the car has this weekend. George's last third of the race was very strong. He benefitted from clean air but, as you can see from Lewis, when you are stuck in traffic, the tyres tend to give up. He was just stuck there in P7, and we need to analyse that so it can be better tomorrow.

"George and Max's contact was a racing incident. One was trying to go around the outside and that is never going to be easy. He picked up damage and that was sub-optimal for his race. It's understandable that he would be upset but George was defending his position.

"We wanted to see how this new sprint format would work this weekend. I think it was good that we have done it and now we can go away and assess the impact, see if we need to make any tweaks to extract the best show."

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

"The Sprint Shootout went well with George in 4th and Lewis in 6th. It seemed the hotter conditions helped us relative to the cooler session yesterday. Managing the risk of yellow and red flags is the biggest challenge here so we were out early in each session.

"The F1 Sprint was interesting as it gives us a bit of data on tyres to carry into the race tomorrow. The medium held on pretty well but without the Safety Car it may have been tricky. The soft looked very weak on those that fitted it so useful to know ahead of the race that it's one to avoid. George did a good job to finish fourth whilst Lewis struggled a bit with the balance. He lost a place at the restart and the rear degradation meant he didn't have the car to try and take it back. We'll look at tools to improve that for tomorrow as it's going to be even tougher with a hot track."

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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - APRIL 29: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W14 on track during the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at Baku City Circuit on April 29, 2023 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Aston Martin

DRS issues affected Aston Martin again in the Shootout, leaving them behind the Williams of Albon at the start. But both managed to pick off the Williams, with Alonso also getting past Hamilton in an opportunistic move that showed the Spaniard’s class. He wasn’t overly happy with the driving of his countryman Sainz ahead though, who defended hard to keep Alonso at bay.

Fernando Alonso, 6th

“We are happy to have scored some points in the Sprint after gaining two positions. I’m not sure if the DRS issue that we’ve had all weekend is fixed, but we will analyse it overnight and hopefully it’s fine for tomorrow. Even with DRS activated, overtaking was quite difficult today and we were all very closely matched in terms of performance. I think we have learnt a bit more about the tyres because it was our first long run all weekend. I believe we have a chance to finish even higher in tomorrow’s race and there is always a chance of a Safety Car or red flag here to mix things up.”

Lance Stroll, 8th

“That was a hard-earned point, but I enjoyed the new format today. Every time we go out on the track, there is something to fight for. It keeps us on our toes and I think it is exciting for fans, too. We had some DRS issues during the Shootout, but fortunately it seemed to be working for the Sprint, which was important because overtaking is quite a challenge at this circuit. I enjoyed the battle with Alex [Albon] and having followed him for a few laps I was pleased to make the move stick going into Turn One.”

Mike Krack, Team Principal

“A good job by the team today: we scored four points in the Sprint and both drivers raced well, made decisive overtakes, and stayed out of trouble. Fortunately, the DRS issues we have encountered throughout the event did not affect us during the Sprint. It was also a valuable learning experience for the Grand Prix tomorrow and the long-run tyre data will help our strategy decision making.”

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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - APRIL 29: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) Aston Martin AMR23 Mercedes on track during the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at Baku City Circuit on April 29, 2023 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Williams

Sargeant made a mistake in the Shootout, crashing into the barriers and damaging his car to such an extent that the team withdrew him from the Sprint itself. That left Albon to fly the flag for Williams from an impressive seventh on the grid. But the Aston Martin pair proved too strong to keep at bay, and he wound up finishing just outside the points in ninth.

Logan Sargeant, DNS

"That is our first sprint day of the season done. Clearly it didn’t go the way we wanted it to go, but I think there were some good positives to the Sprint Shootout considering the speed that we had as a team and I feel like we were able to find a better window for me and the car at the start of the session. Obviously, I’m sad to have ended it the way we did, but I’m looking forward to using some of that pace tomorrow and having a good race."

Alex Albon, 9th

"I’m on the fence with the Sprint if I’m honest; it’s rewarding the top four teams and they’re already a step ahead of everyone else. It was a great race for us, but we just don’t have the pace compared to them, so unfortunately no reward for today and we’ll shift our focus to tomorrow. It’s frustrating to be sitting out of the points in the sprint when P9 in a normal race would mean points and be an excellent result for us. We were the best of the rest today, so we can take some happiness from that, and know it’s now our job to get closer to the top four."

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

"Today was the first running of the new sprint event format, which replaced the old free practice session with a qualifying shootout. Going straight into qualifying on a dusty track wasn’t easy but both drivers adapted well and were set to qualify for the 2nd section of the shootout. Unfortunately, Logan hit the wall on his final flying lap; despite a big effort from the team, we were unable to rebuild the car in time for the sprint race. We will complete the rebuild overnight and he will take his place in the Grand Prix tomorrow.

"Alex enjoyed a smoother shootout session and continued where he left off yesterday evening. He found good pace in the car, made no mistakes and was able to qualify a very impressive 7th place, helped by the fact that Norris was unable to take part.

"With points in the sprint race only awarded to the top 8 finishers, it was always going to be difficult to challenge the four fastest teams. Alex competed hard, pushed the car hard but was unable to stay ahead of the Aston Martins. Scoring no points on a day where we were constantly competing near the front is very frustrating, but we are pleased with the pace of FW45, especially as we brought only minor updates this weekend. We are now looking forward to the Grand Prix and another chance to score some points."

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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - APRIL 29: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Williams FW45 Mercedes on track during the Sprint Shootout ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at Baku City Circuit on April 29, 2023 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

McLaren

Norris was the leading driver to gamble on softs for the start of the Sprint. But while they netted him a couple of places early on, they didn’t stand the test of time and he had to pit for new rubber after falling like a stone through the field. Piastri started on the mediums, which proved to be the better bet, and picked off his team mate but couldn’t find a way past the Williams of Albon ahead.

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the action as Sergio Perez wins a dramatic Sprint on the streets of Baku

Lando Norris, 17th

“Not a great Sprint for us today. We took a bit of a gamble and thought the Softs would last a bit longer than they did, but unfortunately, they didn’t. I obviously had to box and in such a short race you can’t make up for it. So, it wasn’t the right decision today, but we learned a lot about the tyres, which puts us in a better position for tomorrow and that is the priority. Full focus now on the Grand Prix.”

Oscar Piastri, 10th

“I’m pleased with P10 in the Sprint. Given the way I've been feeling this weekend I'm glad I was able to get the Sprint done. With that said, there was a lot to learn today, and it was good to get the laps in, which will really help us in the Grand Prix tomorrow. We’ll have a look at what data we gathered, get a good night’s rest and prepare for tomorrow.”

Andrea Stella, Team Principal

“Coming into today’s Sprint, with eight quicker cars ahead or around us, we knew it would be difficult to score points, so we decided to take an aggressive approach with Lando, putting him on the Soft tyre, while being prudent with Oscar on Medium tyres. The Soft degraded rapidly and we had to make a pit-stop. Oscar drove very well to P10, considering that he’s still not feeling well.

“No points today but it was a good and useful long-run practice in preparation for the race, which remains our priority. Points go up to P10 tomorrow. We have a better understanding of the tyre behaviour and will work overnight to continue our preparation for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.”

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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - APRIL 29: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL60 Mercedes comes in for a pitstop during the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at Baku City Circuit on April 29, 2023 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Dan Mullan - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Haas

After a difficult day yesterday, today offered glimmers of hope for Haas. Magnussen raced well in the Sprint from 18th on the grid, but Hulkenberg struggled for tyre life. The German suffered from high levels of degradation, which is something the team will want to understand before tomorrow’s Grand Prix.

Nico Hulkenberg, 15th

"We have to look at that one as it was weird, after the first couple of laps the rear tyres completely switched off. I think we had pretty heavy graining, so we need to investigate, but it was definitely going in the wrong direction that race. The Sprint was the long-run practice, so we’ll hopefully learn from that. There’s not much we can do being under parc ferme, which is a bit frustrating, and tomorrow we also start quite far back, so it’s going to be a tough one."

Kevin Magnussen, 11th

"The car felt good again, of course, we didn’t change it after yesterday’s qualifying, but I had a good rhythm and our pace was decent. We were fast enough to be in the top 10 – so that’s encouraging for tomorrow. It’s obviously a longer race, and unfortunately I’m starting a bit far down with the problems we had in qualifying on Friday, the electrical issue putting us in P18. But, there’s a lot more pace than that and hopefully I can get a good first lap, have a clean race and try to make it into the top 10. That would be nice."

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

"It was a much better day today than yesterday for us. I think we qualified where we thought we would in the Sprint Shootout, we knew it would be difficult to get into Q3, but we made a big step forward from yesterday. In the Sprint, with Kevin, our race pace was good. Nico struggled a little bit with his rear tyres, so we need to find out why. Now we get ready for tomorrow. We still have a chance for points."

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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - APRIL 29: Kevin Magnussen of Denmark driving the (20) Haas F1 VF-23 Ferrari on track during the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at Baku City Circuit on April 29, 2023 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Alfa Romeo

Both Alfa drivers were unlucky in Q1 in the Shootout, on hot laps when the red flags came out and thus exiting at the earliest opportunity. Starting down the field, the team split strategies with Bottas on the softs and Zhou the mediums. The latter proved a good call as Zhou made his way back through the field, while Bottas ran out of tyre life and finished down the order.

Valtteri Bottas, 16th

"When you start from pole and don’t bring home the win, you cannot be totally satisfied with the outcome. Having said that, Charles and Carlos produced the race we expected and delivered a good result. In Melbourne, we saw we had made progress and I think that so far this weekend, that has also been confirmed here. In qualifying trim we were quicker than Red Bull and in the race, we were able to fight with Perez and Verstappen, even if we saw there is still some work to do in terms of pace.

"Today, we’ve been able to try the Medium tyres and run the car with a heavier fuel load, which produced some useful data for us to analyse with the aim of getting even more out of our package tomorrow, when Charles again starts from pole position."

Zhou Guanyu, 12th

"When you start from pole and don’t bring home the win, you cannot be totally satisfied with the outcome. Having said that, Charles and Carlos produced the race we expected and delivered a good result. In Melbourne, we saw we had made progress and I think that so far this weekend, that has also been confirmed here. In qualifying trim we were quicker than Red Bull and in the race, we were able to fight with Perez and Verstappen, even if we saw there is still some work to do in terms of pace.

"Today, we’ve been able to try the Medium tyres and run the car with a heavier fuel load, which produced some useful data for us to analyse with the aim of getting even more out of our package tomorrow, when Charles again starts from pole position."

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative

"When you start from pole and don’t bring home the win, you cannot be totally satisfied with the outcome. Having said that, Charles and Carlos produced the race we expected and delivered a good result. In Melbourne, we saw we had made progress and I think that so far this weekend, that has also been confirmed here. In qualifying trim we were quicker than Red Bull and in the race, we were able to fight with Perez and Verstappen, even if we saw there is still some work to do in terms of pace.

"Today, we’ve been able to try the Medium tyres and run the car with a heavier fuel load, which produced some useful data for us to analyse with the aim of getting even more out of our package tomorrow, when Charles again starts from pole position."

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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - APRIL 29: 17th placed qualifier Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Alfa Romeo F1 walks in the Pitlane during the Sprint Shootout ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at Baku City Circuit on April 29, 2023 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Alpine

It was another tough day for Alpine, with Gasly unable to take much part in the Shootout after an exhaust issue was detected. Then the team opted to start Ocon from the pit lane for both the Sprint and the Grand Prix tomorrow after changing the car in parc ferme conditions. Ocon’s Sprint didn’t go to plan either, as he ran out of rubber and was forced to pit. Gasly did make some headway back through the field, and he’ll have to do likewise tomorrow from a lowly grid slot.

F1 SPRINT: Who gained and lost the most positions in the Baku Sprint?

Esteban Ocon, 18th

“It’s been a difficult day for us, but there are positives that we can take from today. It was key for us to change the set-up of the car ahead of the Sprint Race, a collective decision we knew was necessary to give us a better chance this weekend. The car was a lot better this afternoon after our changes, and we were able to collect valuable data, something we’ve unfortunately lacked so far this weekend. It will be a Pit Lane start for me again tomorrow for the Grand Prix but if there is a place where anything can happen it is Baku. We’ll be giving it our all and we’ll be ready to seize any opportunity which may occur in the race.”

Pierre Gasly, 13th

“It was important for us to have a clean run in today’s Sprint Race after what has been a very challenging weekend for the team up to this point. We were on the backfoot this morning with an issue in the Sprint Shootout, but I’m pleased that we completed some laps in the Sprint Race to gain a handful of positions. We needed to do some learning and I think we have some ideas on what we can do tomorrow in the main race. We’ll keep working hard together as a team and see what decisions we take in order maximise our chances tomorrow. I believe we have a quick race car and I’m aiming for the top ten to take some points from this tricky weekend.”

Alan Permane, Sporting Director

“It’s been another frustrating day for the team in Baku but we are firmly focused on tomorrow’s race where points are on offer. Unfortunately, like yesterday, Pierre’s day was compromised with an exhaust leak in the Sprint Shootout, which meant he could not set a competitive lap time and we had to pit him during the session to avoid any potential damage. After Esteban exited in SQ2, we decided to make changes to his car set-up by amending the front and rear suspension with an eye on Sunday’s race and maximising our chances to score points. We’ve certainly learnt a great amount from today’s Sprint Race and we have some ideas on potential strategies for tomorrow’s Grand Prix with the target to progress both cars into the points. We did it in Bahrain earlier in the season to go from last to ninth, and we can still get something from this weekend.”

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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - APRIL 29: Pierre Gasly of France and Alpine F1 looks on in parc ferme during the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at Baku City Circuit on April 29, 2023 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Dan Mullan - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

AlphaTauri

Tsunoda and De Vries had a small coming together on the first lap, which may explain why the Japanese racer then understeered into the barriers. That left him missing a tyre, with the AlphaTauri in a race versus the Pirelli rubber as to who would make it back to the pits first. In the end, the tyre stopped out on track, leading to a Safety Car while AlphaTauri opted to fix Tsunoda’s car and send him back out, only to discover the suspension damage was too great. He coasted back to the pits, with the stewards having a look at the incident and handing the team a €5,000 fine.

READ MORE: AlphaTauri boss Tost explains timing of departure announcement and choice to bring Ferrari's Mekies on board

Nyck de Vries, 14th

“We were lacking a lot of grip in today’s SQ1 and tyres were far from ready, which I think was the same for others too, so we didn’t get the chance to properly go for it. The track was still very green, so my first lap was a warm-up lap, and then the next push lap was interrupted.

“For the sprint race, we have to look at the positives. We had encouraging pace and were racing forward. Compared to other cars in the midfield, we didn’t seem to struggle as much with tyres, which is encouraging for tomorrow. We gained four places in 17 laps, so if we keep that up for the race, I will be a happy guy tomorrow night. It was good to get out there under racing conditions because it gives you an idea of how to race the first couple of laps. Our top speed has been more competitive than at previous races and the team has put a lot of effort into focusing on that asset of the car at this track. With our package, I believe points will be possible tomorrow.”

Yuki Tsunoda, DNF

“This morning, I think we could’ve gotten through to SQ2, but unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to do the last push lap. The track was hotter today, but the pace of the car was similar to yesterday. Obviously, the result of the Sprint Shootout was frustrating, but it was interesting with everyone on the same tyre compound.

“On the first lap of the Sprint Race, Nyck and I touched as I was trying to pass. I had no space and after the contact, my front wing was damaged, I understeered into the wall and my race was over. It's very frustrating, as we weren't able to maximise today’s opportunity. For tomorrow, I’ll reset myself, and starting from a good position I’ll try to score as many points as possible. Our car suits this track well, so there is huge potential.”

Guillaume Dezoteux, Head of Vehicle Performance

“The first-ever Sprint Shootout didn't work out well for us. We knew traffic and tyre management were the key factors today, but unfortunately, the yellow and red flags prevented us from closing a good enough lap in SQ1. We will review in detail how the session went to understand if we could have done things differently.

“Regarding the Sprint Race, both cars were racing hard from the start and ended up side by side at the apex of Turn 3. Nyck made contact with Yuki's front wing while exiting the corner, and as a result, Yuki understeered into the wall in Turn 13. Unfortunately, the damage to his rear right end brought an end to his race. As for Nyck, he was able to overtake some cars which were struggling with the tyres.

“We have gathered some useful data for tomorrow and we'll review the strategy simulations tonight to come up with the best possible scenario for the race.”

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Alpha Tauri's Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda has a tyre problem during the sprint race ahead of the Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the Baku City Circuit in Baku on April 29, 2023. (Photo by LISI NIESNER / POOL / AFP) (Photo by LISI NIESNER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Pirelli

Mario Isola, Motorsport Director

"The new-format Sprint weekend made this a rather different Saturday at Baku. We saw a spectacular and competitive shootout, with this afternoon’s race probably more closely-fought than it would have been had the result determined the grid for the grand prix, as was the case up to the end of last year. The medium tyre was chosen by the large majority of drivers (17 out of a total 19, as Sargeant didn’t start), with a roughly equal split between new sets and used sets: eight versus nine. This showed how the medium was able to offer not only good peak performance, having been used by all the drivers in SQ1 and SQ2, but also its ability to maintain that level over a notably longer distance. As expected, some of the teams that didn’t expect to have much of a chance of scoring points today used the 17 laps of the sprint race to try two different compounds and gather extra information ahead of tomorrow’s grand prix. From our point of view, an initial view of the data suggests a one-stopper to be the mostly likely strategy, probably using medium and hard. A total of 18 drivers will have two sets of hard tyres available, which would allow them to capitalise on any eventual neutralisations: distinctly possible on this street track, as we saw today both in the Formula 2 Sprint Race and the Formula 1 Sprint."

FACTS AND STATS: Perez sets an unexpected record with Baku Sprint victory as Leclerc cashes in the points

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