Red Bull driver Sergio Perez staved off Dutch teammate Max Verstappen in a brilliant showing of pace and cool nerves. Only six points separate the two drivers as they’ve both racked up two wins, Max sits on four podiums while Checo three.
Verstappen was unfortunately disadvantaged because of his poorly timed pit stop which occurred because of Alpha Tauri driver Nyck de Vries. His car had a steering failure and couldn’t get his car sufficiently out of the way. Verstappen had pitted shortly before the safety car was deployed and was unable to pull away on his fresh tires. To add insult to injury, the safety car also allowed for all the drivers to pit essentially for free.
It was honestly an impressive feat that Verstappen managed to recover from an ailing 9th position at the start of the safety car to just behind Perez at the end of the Grand Prix; despite his teammate besting him he still showed a recovery drive worthy of a world champion.
The top 17 drivers on the grid opted for the medium compound tyres to start the race with. Leclerc took pole position with Verstappen and Perez right behind him. Heading into the first corner of the Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc comfortably pulled away in first with Verstappen and Perez following, Carlos Sainz held up just behind Perez.
Verstappen was very close to overtaking Leclerc’s Ferrari from lights out, DRS gave him the advantage necessary to get the move done on the Monegasque by utilising his slip stream. Two laps later, Perez followed his teammate to overtake the Ferrari putting him into second place and completing a Red Bull 1-2.
After he’d passed Leclerc, Perez kept close to his teammate Verstappen up until the Alpha Tauri crash occured at turn five of the circuit. It’s then when the lead changed hands and Verstappen was relegated to 3rd place behind Leclerc.
The race resumed on lap 14 with Perez leading Leclerc and Verstappen, but Verstappen immediately passed Leclerc on the run to turn three to assume second place. Both Red Bulls began to draw away from Leclerc and the rest of the field, with Verstappen trailing his race-leading teammate by less than a second.
The two Red Bulls led the pack with no competition in pursuit. At turn 15, both Perez and Verstappen faintly brushed the wall while engaged in a private duel – Perez on the entry and Verstappen on the exit.
With ten laps remaining, Perez was closing out a lead of around three seconds to his teammate. As the laps began to pass by, Verstappen was unable to close the distance and mount an effort for the lead. Instead, he could only maintain the gap at approximately three seconds.
Perez eventually crossed the finish line at the conclusion of lap 51 to earn his second victory of the season. Verstappen was only a few seconds behind him in second place, and Leclerc took the final podium spot approximately 20 seconds behind the victor.
Azerbaijan Top 10 Classification:
- Sergio Perez – Red Bull
- Max Verstappen – Red Bull
- Charles Leclerc – Ferrari
- Fernando Alonso – Aston Martin
- Carlos Sainz – Ferrari
- Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
- Lance Stroll – Aston Martin
- George Russell – Mercedes
- Lando Norris – McLaren
- Yuki Tsunoda – Alpha Tauri