Max Verstappen opened a 21-point advantage over teammate Sergio Perez in the Formula 1 World Championship as Red Bull finished 1-2 in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on a disastrous day for Ferrari.
Verstappen had a turbulent start to defending a title he won in dramatic fashion last year, as he struggled with reliability issues at the start of the season that are now a thorn in Ferrari’s side. Charles Leclercwho started from pole position in Baku and has done so in six of the season’s eight races so far, led the race until the engine failed after 19 out of 51 laps.
. said Ferrari A man retired from the lead in two of the last three doctors. “We really don’t need this to happen again. We didn’t have big problems at the start of the season and we didn’t change big things. It’s hard to understand and it’s very frustrating.”
Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz also retired early due to hydraulic issues, marking the Italian team’s first double retirement since the 2020 Monza handover. Red Bull Race on the board.
Perez, the Baku specialist and winner in Monaco two weeks ago, led the early laps after beating Leclerc in the first corner, but after overtaking Verstappen for the second race in a row, he suffered worse tire degradation and had to put in the best of defense for the champion after 14 laps The Dutchman continued to win comfortably. His 25th victory put him on par with former sports legends Jim Clarke and Niki Lauda.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: “It was unlucky for Ferrari today. They took a cheap early stop under VSC. [virtual safety car] For Leclerc, which gave him a head start but would have meant spending a very long time on those tyres. We had a good pace and we would have been in better shape later. It was great to see how things would turn out.”
At one point, Red Bull drivers were instructed to “not fight” at a track notorious for the danger of closed walls and a lack of runoff areas. However, Horner explained: “Sergio was a magician in qualifying yesterday but we may have prioritized qualifying a little more in his side of the garage. He got into some graininess in the rear tires a little bit faster than Max did today. All we asked of them was to give each other room. , and they did. It’s been a very mature drive by Max and payback for the past year.” In Baku in 2021, Verstappen was robbed because a tire exploded six laps from the end, while he was in front.
Behind the dominant Red Bulls, George Russell scored his third on the podium this year and maintained his record as the only driver to score in every race. But driving a Mercedes still suffered from “hog birds” or rebound, as a result of this year’s new aerodynamic regulations, the afternoon was not a comfortable one. “It was pretty brutal in there,” Russell confirmed. “I’m going to sleep well tonight after a race on a track that’s not usually that physically fit.”
Lewis Hamilton knew exactly how he was feeling, struggling to get out of his car after finishing fourth behind teammate Russell for the seventh time in eight races. “I was biting my teeth in pain,” said the seven-time world champion. “I can’t express it. The adrenaline just got past me. I was just praying for it to end.”
Once again, the constructors’ champs weren’t impressive, but Hamilton was still upbeat enough to offer some hope. “I think we lose one second per lap with that rebound and as soon as we fix it we will be there in the race,” he said.
This, though, was a familiar refrain since the opening round of the championship, with Toto Wolff apologizing for what Hamilton had gone through. “We all know it’s very difficult to drive at the moment, and we’re sorry about the back, but we will work to sort ourselves out,” said the Mercedes team principal.
For almost a man, drivers have been wondering about the rebound phenomenon not unique to Mercedes and which they fear could cause long-term physical damage.
Pierre Gasly posted his best result of the season with fifth for Italy’s AlphaTauri team, ahead of a solid lead from former four-time Aston Martin world champion Sebastian Vettel, who could have finished fourth but on a fast escape route. 12 laps.
Fernando Alonso, who is 7,771 days old, can now boast the longest running F1 career in terms of duration, finishing seventh with Albin, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Britain’s Lando Norris at McLaren, and fellow Frenchman Esteban Ocon.
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