Red Bull secures 1-2 with Perez on Top
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix comes to an end with Red Bull securing the 1-2. Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez (Red Bull) was able to capitalize on the weekend winning both the Sprint race and the Grand Prix. Perez missed out on the extra point for fastest lap as George Russell (Mercedes) was able to muster enough pace to secured the extra point. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) was not able to convert his pole position to a win which is a disappointment for Monegasque driver. Leclerc did however secure his first podium of the season which is a consolation given the issues Ferrari has faced so far this season with reliability.
How it Happened
Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez checked out at the front of the grid early in the race. The two traded fastest laps but on Lap 11, De Vries (Alpha Tauri) clipped the wall at Turn 5, stopping his car just before the Turn 6 barriers and bringing out the yellow flags. Verstappen jumped into the pits to swap to hard tires – the Safety Car then being deployed to cover the sidelined AlphaTauri.
The defining moment for the race winner came after Verstappen pitted. The following lap that yellow flag changed to a safety car and Perez was able to pit for a cheap stop which allowed him to return in the lead with on a lap fresher tires. Verstappen came out of the pits in 3rd but was later able to pass the Ferrari of Leclerc ahead. With the win Perez climbs to within 6 points of Verstappen in the drivers championship points standings.
Elsewhere on the grid
Esteban Ocon (Alpine) and Nico Hulkenberg (Haas) made suspension set-up changes under parc ferme conditions which meant they both had to start from the pit lane. The two did not finish in the top 10. There were talks of the medium tires not lasting as long as expected due to track temperatures. Some teams opted to pit early in an effort to create separation from the field on a longer tire stint with the hard tires. Ultimately the early stops had no effect as the front runners were able to extend their tire life to pit later in the race; erasing any advantaged that would have been gained with an earlier stop.
Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) and George Russell (Mercedes) had a bit of a scuffle as the entered the pit lane. Stroll was pacing back to ensure he did not come in too early behind his teammate Russell ended up along side of Stroll in the pit lane in a bizarre move. However, no contact was made and the Mercedes pit was positioned before the Aston Martin garage. No action was taken by the stewards. Stroll would later make contact with the barrier at Turn 5 clipping the wall. He was able to avoid major damage. Stroll also had another late run off after struggling to find a groove all weekend.
The Battle for the Top 5
Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) was putting pressure on Leclerc for 3rd place in the later stages of the grand prix. Leclerc started to fall off pace as Alonso seemed to find pace, but there was not enough race distance left for Alonso to make a lung for 3rd. This ended Alonso’s streak of podium finishes in 2023. However, Alonso took home valuable points to help Aston Martin maintain their second place standing in the constructors championship.
The Mercedes were not able to amount an offensive to challenge for podium positions in this race. Unfortunately, for Lewis Hamilton his success in Australia did not translate to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku. Zhou Guanyu also had a failure that required him to retire the car for the race’s second and final DNF. Guanyu was not in points contention.
After the Race
Perez had the following comments for F1.com after the race, “It really worked out today for us. We managed to stay in the DRS train, and we managed to keep the pressure on Max. I think we had better deg on that first stint. It was looking good already from that side, then the Safety Car came and bunched everyone up and it was again another race on the hard tire.
I think it was very close between us [myself and Verstappen]. We pushed to the maximum today. We both clipped the wall a few times…we were pushing out there. The way Max pushed me throughout the race was really hard, but we managed to keep him under control.”
Max Verstappen also commented post race,
“Overall it was quite a good race. Of course, I was a bit unlucky with the safety car call, but I think in that second stint both of us were pushing flat out. We used every centimeter on that track and touched a few walls! It was a good Team result and there were a lot of learnings from this weekend to take forward to the rest of the season. We bought it home and a 1-2 for the Team was ideal, Checo had a great race and did very well today. I’m already looking forward to Miami and seeing what we can do there.”
Full Race Results are below
|1||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||LAP 51|
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+2.137|
|4||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin||+22.024|
|7||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+51.617|
|10||Yuki Tsunoda||Alpha Tauri||+83.862|
|18||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||1L|
|19||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo||DNF|
|20||Nyck De Vries||Alpha Tauri||DNF|
Red Bull extended its lead in the constructors championship with Aston Martin retaining second place. Full championship standings are available here: Formula 1 Championship standings