Max Verstappen believes tire management and an effective strategy can aid him in bagging a potential win at the Azerbaijan GP. Speaking at the FIA's post-qualifying drivers' press conference, the Dutchman spoke to Sportskeeda about his expectations from the race.
Upon being asked about his strategy to capitalize from the second row on the grid, the Red Bull driver said:
“I think last year I started third here. So yeah, a lot of things happen. If you have good pace, I do think you can do something out there in the race. So yeah, we’ll just, you know, look through the data to optimise everything for tomorrow. And yeah, just make sure that the car is good on the tyres.”
The Dutch driver believes there will be plenty of opportunities to maximize his chances of claiming victory at the Azerbaijan GP, a race with a reputation for incidents that can be unpredictable. Despite his past disappointments at the venue, Max Verstappen mentioned that he would approach the race just like any other weekend. With a third-place grid start, the Red Bull driver will have to capitalize on the events of the race and use strategy to aid him ahead of Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc.
Overall, he was disappointed with his qualifying result and complained about difficulties in finding the right balance with his car. Describing his qualifying session overall, Verstappen said:
“To be honest, just consistently a bit off. So, just a bit tricky to find, again, a good balance front-to-rear throughout the weekend, qualifying…and yeah, basically that just continued every session the same until the flag.”
Max Verstappen believes optimizing a good team result is going to be very important at the Azerbaijan GP
With Red Bull’s advantage over Ferrari in straight-line speed being 9 kmph, the reigning world champion downplayed the importance of the figure and the role it plays in his confidence going into the race. Max Verstappen believes it is going to be equally important to be quick in the corners and not just on the straights. The Dutchman’s plan for the race is to capitalize on the opportunities of an unpredictable weekend and contribute towards a good team result.
On whether the straight-line speed advantage over Ferrari was a confidence boost, Max Verstappen said:
“I’m not sure it’s nine, but maybe we are a little bit faster. But a lot of things can happen. I mean, you also need to be quick in the corners, of course, it’s not only the straights, so we’ll find out tomorrow.”
Outlining the plan for the race, the Red Bull driver kept his reply concise, saying:
“The plan is, of course, as a team, to optimise the results. So that’s what we’ll try to do. The run to Turn 1 is super-short, so there’s not a lot you can do there. But yeah, like they said, it’s a long race, Baku has shown that a lot of things happen. And yeah, we just need to stay calm and focus on having a good race car.”
The reigning champion leads the 2022 Drivers' Championship with a narrow margin over Leclerc and Perez, both of whom are on the front row for Sunday’s race. With Max Verstappen's last race win being in Spain, Baku is an important weekend for him to deliver a good result to extend his lead.