Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Baku City Circuit, 2023

Leclerc reveals near-miss with “a cat in the middle of the road” in sprint race

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc described how he and the Safety Car had to avoid an errant cat on the circuit during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix sprint race.

Leclerc led the early phase of the 17-lap sprint race from pole position including under the early Safety Car deployed due to a high level of debris along the Baku city circuit.

Leading the field behind the Safety Car, Leclerc rounded turn one at the start of lap five and saw Safety Car driver Bernd Maylander take avoiding action to miss a stray cat on the circuit. Leclerc reported the fearless feline over team radio, which was misinterpreted on the world feed as him reporting a “cut” on his car.

“I said a ‘cat’, which is different!,” Leclerc said in the post sprint race press conference. “There was a cat in the middle of the road and the Safety Car had to stop. But I think I was probably the only one who saw that.

“In the exit of turn one, there was a cat and the Safety Car braked. It wasn’t too bad.”

After the race restarted on the following lap, Leclerc was soon overtaken by Sergio Perez for the lead of the race along the main straight when DRS was activated. Leclerc tried to stay close to the leader but eventually faded over the end of the race to finish second, four seconds behind Perez.

“Basically once you start with the tyre degradation, that’s where they started to go away or that Checo started to go away,” Leclerc explained. “So from that moment onwards we had a little bit of a disadvantage.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Leclerc will start on pole position again for tomorrow’s grand prix. He says he is encouraged by the improved performance of his Ferrari team compared to the opening rounds of the season.

“I don’t know how much of a fight it was, but I tried my best,” he said.

“We are still lacking some pace in the race. This is definitely where our focus is at the moment. It’s been the case now since quite a bit, so we are working on that, trying to find something for the races. In qualifying, we seem to be okay.

“Having said that, I believe we did a step forward. I mean, if you look at Australia and here we are, we are better. We are not yet at the level of Red Bull, so still a lot of work to do.”

Bringing the F1 news from the source

RaceFans strives to bring its readers news directly from the key players in Formula 1. We are able to do this thanks in part to the generous backing of our RaceFans Supporters.

By contributing £1 per month or £12 per year (or the equivalent in other currencies) you can help cover the costs involved in producing original journalism: Travelling, writing, creating, hosting, contacting and developing.

We have been proudly supported by our readers for over 10 years. If you enjoy our independent coverage, please consider becoming a RaceFans Supporter today. As a bonus, all our Supporters can also browse the site ad-free. Sign up or find out more via the links below:

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Browse all 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix articles

Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

8 comments on “Leclerc reveals near-miss with “a cat in the middle of the road” in sprint race”

  1. Aleix Espargaro had a run in with cat during MotoGP quali and now this

  2. Would have been ironic if the Safety Car had run it over.

  3. I guess that’s what you get if you let a lot of cars go “meeeeowwww” through the city.

  4. A cat ran across the track in the castle section on the inaugural 2016 weekend, so the second time a cat has invaded the Baku City Circuit in its relatively short history.
    Search for ‘Cat runs across F1 track’ on Youtube to see my reference.

  5. A cat on the track should be an immediate red flag, but last time out, everyone got mad when the race was interrupted with a little paws.

  6. A fortunate feline as they were not going flat cat.

  7. Did anyone get it on timing?
    Could’ve been a CatFlap.

Comments are closed.